News Wrap


India's Union Home Ministry has reverted to the system of handing over seized cattle, at the Indo-Bangladesh border, to the Indian customs department, instead of burdening the Border Security Force, with the additional duty of manning the animals. The judiciary-orders that the animals be banded to the local public. There are about 1327 head of cattle currently kept at border outposts, along the Bangladesh border in the Meghalaya sector. Around 1124 head of cattle died in the past year, for lack of basic amenities. The BSF had seized over 10,000 head of cattle, valued at more than Rs 16 crore, in 2019.

Tribal Status
More than 90% of Ladakh's population is tribal. The primary Scheduled Tribes in Ladakh are Balti Beda, Bot, Brokpa (or Drukpa, Dard, Shin), Changpa, Garra, Mon and Purigpa. Prior to the creation of Union Territory of Ladakh, people in Ladakh region had certain agrarian rights, including right on land, which restricted people from other parts of the country to purchase or acquire land in Ladakh. The neighboring Lahul-Spiti district, in Himachal Pradesh, enjoys tribal status.Ladhakis are demanding tribal status for the area by including them in the Sixth Schedule. Following; abrogation of Article 370 and Article 371 of India's Constitution, fear haunts the locals in Ladakh that "outsiders" might step in to purchase their lands and compete for government jobs. The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) has recently recommended to the Union Government of India, to include the Union Territory of Ladakh in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, which makes special   provisions for administration of tribal areas.

Education In Bangladesh
Primary education in Bangladesh had a net enrolment ratio of 97.94% in 2015, up from 60.5% in 1991. The enrolment ratio for girls was 98.8% and for boys 96.6% Bangladesh suffered from a high national poverty rate of 71.3%, and an abysmally low adult literacy rate of 29.3%; 17.9% for females and 39.73% for males in 1980. In the wake of the global education-for-all campaign, the 1990s; ushered a turnaround: in Bangladesh. Primary schools in Bangladesh were nationalised in two phases, one as early as in 1973, and the next in 2013. About 80,000 primary schools are now under a common administration, through nationalisation. The Primary Education (Compulsory Act), 1990, eliminated school fees. Under a series of primary-education development programmes (PEDP) launched since 1998, free distribution of textbooks was introduced. The girls' enrolment in primary schools reached over four million by 2000, from about 0.6 million in 1980, while secondary enrolment more than doubled to about 8.5 million, in which girls constituted about 55%. Bangladesh has one of the largest concentrations of NGO activities in the world. More than 2500 of them had been operating in different sectors, including education in 2017. Capitalising on the innovative school designs of NGOs, Bangladesh extended education outreach to geographically remote areas, and ethically and socially marginalised groups. Foreign aid made entry only at a later stage. Proactive government action, adoption of the Sector Wide Approach (SWAP) in 1998 to avoid duplication of work and financial waste, enlarged the state's footprint in the education sector. The massive Food for Education (FFE) programme of 1993 doled out grain rations to disadvantaged and landless families to encourage the school enrolment for boys and girls. These schemes boosted the enrolment and attendance for girls, raising it by 44%, as against 28% for boys.

The low stipend amount of the Primary Education Stipend Project (PES), 2001 was replaced by a five years long single cash based stipend programme, the primary Education Stipend Programme (PESP) of 2002, with four times more stipend amount, targeting the poorest 40% of primary school students in rural areas. The programme ensured a bank mediated cash transfer, directly to the mothers in a family. The Female Secondary School Scholarship Programme (FSSSP) of 1993, provided monthly cash stipend, and a school fee waiver for those girls who remain unmarried till the age of eighteen, to bridge the gender gap. A new stipend programme benefited about 2.3 million students, of whom 55% were girls. About 98% of, secondary schools and madrasahs in Bangladesh are privately operated with public subsidies. The private public partnership has raised enrolment for girls from 39% in 1998, to 67% in 2017. The Bangladesh Bureau of Educational Information and Statistics has noted that the overall drop-out rate is 42%, and completion rates a mere 59% in 2017. The "poor quality of teaching", results in an average loss of 4 to 5 years of schooling. The programme "Transforming Secondary Education for results" (TSER) for the 13 million students from grades 6 to 12, aims to remedy the "learning crisis', especially for girls and children from poor household. The national education policy (2010) and law (2016) does not have a rights based approach, similar to India's Right to Education (2009). Education is now 2% of GDP in Bangladesh. Gender parity in Bangladesh school enrolment, has reduced Bangladesh's poverty rate to below 9%, in 2018.

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Vol. 52, No. 36, Mar 8 - 14, 2020