The donor of a major primary education development project seeks to shift unutilised money of the scheme for the Rohingya children.
Global Partnership for Education (GPE), the project financer, has recently written to the Finance Minister AMA Muhith, expressing its interest for shifting some $9 million, ministry sources said.
The global agency supporting education in 65 countries provided $100 million grants to Primary Education Development Programme (PEDP-3), of which $9 million is likely to remain unutilised at the end of this month, the scheme’s completion deadline.
According to terms and condition of the grants, the unutilised money is supposed to be returned to the donor agency, but GPE seeks to transfer it for educating Rohingya children.
Economic Relations Division (ERD) has sought opinions from the primary and mass education ministry about GPE’s interest for the shifting of funds, but the ministry is yet to give any decision regarding this, official sources informed.
“We’ve requested the ministry for its opinion about the matter. But we’ve not yet got any opinion from them. They are taking time as the issue involves some calculations,” ERD Secretary Kazi Shofiqul Azam said.
He said the scheme is scheduled to be complete by this December, adding that it is very important to be sure about whether the $9 million remains unutilised after the deadline before allowing the money transfer.
“If the money eventually remains unutilised, there is a rule to refund the money to the donor agency. They can spend the money in any other sector if they wish to,” he noted.
PEDP-III is the third in a series of large, multi-donor investments in education over the past 13 years, which is being implemented by Local Government Engineering Department (LGED).
Its scope is the entire primary education sector and this is reflected in the comprehensive result and financing frameworks, which encompass all interventions, and funding supporting the pre-primary and primary education system.
The total estimated cost of the programme is Tk 58,359 crore. Total development partners’ financing is $1085.50 million or Tk 7,600 crore to the GOB.
In its letter to Muhith, GPE said it wants to spend nearly $9 million or nearly Tk 72 crore potentially unutilised money of PEDP III on education for Rohingya children and other beneficiaries.
The registered number of Rohingyas now crossed eight lakh who have flown to Bangladesh from neighbouring Myanmar to save lives from a military and sectarian crackdown in the Rakhine state since August 25.
Of the fleeing Rohingyas, a major portion is reported to be children whose nutrition, healthcare and education facilities have been put in danger with the atrocity in Myanmar.
As a densely populated country with resource constraints, Bangladesh is struggling to provide basic rights to Rohingya population took shelter here.
GPE’s interest in supporting the helpless Rohingyas came after some development partners, including the World Bank and ADB, said they were keen to stand beside Bangladesh government to help the Rohingyas.
According to some analysts, there should not be any objection from the implementing ministry to the fund transfer, if it is found that the said amount of money actually remains unused.
They also suggested that development partners should come forward with fresh funding arrangement to help the Rohingyas.