Dhaka, Bangladesh
'Bangladesh achievements may appear as development puzzle'

'Bangladesh achievements may appear as development puzzle'

A research carried out for the International Growth Centre, London School of Economics, has extolled Bangladesh's rapid and spectacular improvements in many social development indicators during the last two decades or so, reports bdnews24.com
The decline achieved in infant and child mortality rates since the early 1990s, for example, is among the fastest in the developing world, it says.
"Bangladesh has already eliminated gender disparity in primary and secondary school enrolment and is near to achieving universal basic education. Its success in reducing the population growth rate through the adoption of birth-control methods is also unique among countries at similar per capita income levels. Within south Asia, Bangladesh has improved its position ahead of India and the region as a whole, in a number of these indicators," an article, drawn on the research, published in the Economic & Political Weekly (EPW)'s November 2, 2013 issue, mentioned.
The research was carried out by three prominent economists, Wahiduddin Mahmud, M Niaz Asadullah, Antonio Savoia.
Wahiduddin Mahmud recently retired as a professor of economics at the University of Dhaka and is currently a member of the United Nations Committee for Development Policy. M Niaz Asadullah teaches economics at the University of Reading, United Kingdom and Antonio Savoia teaches at the Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester, United Kingdom.
Their cross-country comparisons showed that in relation to per capita income, Bangladesh has transformed itself "from being a laggard to a clear leader" in many of the indicators of health, education and demographic outcomes.
They said Bangladesh's above achievements might appear as a "development puzzle", given the country's desperate initial conditions, still widespread poverty and allegedly poor record in governance adversely affecting the quality of public service delivery.
Significantly, the achievements were made despite the fact that Bangladesh's public spending on both health and education as a proportion of gross domestic product (GDP) has remained lower than what is expected even at comparable low levels of per capita income.
They observed that social mobilisation has played an important role to make this progress possible.
"Much of it seems to have been due to the adoption of low-cost solutions like the use of oral rehydration saline (ORS) for diarrhoea treatment leading to a decrease in child mortality, and due to increased awareness created by effective social mobilisation campaigns such as for immunisation or contraceptive use or girls' schooling," they wrote in the article.
"The scaling up of programmes through the spread of new ideas is helped in Bangladesh by a strong presence of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and also by the density of settlements and their lack of remoteness made possible by an extensive network of rural roads," they added.
But as the gains of Bangladesh from low-cost solutions are reaped, they however, warn that further progress may increasingly depend on higher public social spending and an improvement in service delivery systems.
Further, reductions in child and maternal mortality would require more expensive interventions and the provision of relatively costly health services, they said in the article.
While remarkable progress has been made in school enrolment, especially for girls, there were serious concerns now about the quality of education, the article further pointed out.

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