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Breaking ground in gender parity in Bangladesh’s primary schools

Shilpa Banerji's picture
Girls attending school in Bangladesh
With nearly 6.4 million girls in secondary school in 2015, Bangladesh is among the few countries to achieve gender parity in school enrollment, and have more girls than boys in the secondary schools. Photo Credit: Shilpa Banerji/World Bank

Going through the narrow streets of Savar, you are surrounded by homes and shops on both sides - doors opening for business, the smell of heated oil in the pan, and the wait for the morning rush hour to begin. Then you spot the uniformed children: in pairs, in threes or walking solo to school. Among them you see many self-assured young girls, equal in numbers, with their heavy bags and tight braids. Some are being escorted by their mothers and siblings, and some are being dropped off by a mode of transport. But everyone is excited to come to school.
 
As part of the government led Third Primary Education Development Program (PEDP3), the Dhorendra Government Primary School in Savar – about 2 hours from the nation’s capital – is an example of how Bangladesh has made remarkable gains in ensuring access to education in the past two decades. The program, initiated in 2011, covers Grades I through V and one year of pre-primary education. It aims to enhance the quality of education in Bangladesh, and reduce disparities in access and learning.
 
More than 70% of donor partner financing is linked to results achieved on the ground and disbursed after meeting program targets associated with a set of key indicators. These indicators represent critical reforms, and cover a subset of the government’s program for primary education. The program is a good example where the government and donor resources are well harmonized, according to co-Task Team Leader Saurav Dev Bhatta.
 
As a result, the country’s net enrollment rate at the primary school level has increased from 80 percent in 2000 to above 90 percent in 2015. Furthermore, the percentage of children completing primary school is close to 80 percent. With nearly 6.4 million girls in secondary school in 2015, Bangladesh is among the few countries to achieve gender parity in school enrollment, and have more girls than boys in the secondary schools.

Sister Niyoti Margaret Rosario, School Principal, said that girls regularly outperform the boys in class, and primary school completion rates were at nearly 100 percent. She also pointed to the washrooms and arsenic free water on the school premises, which have been provided through the program. “These facilities help the children to come to school,” she said.

But the key challenge for the program remains the quality of primary education in Bangladesh. Although PEDP3 has recruited about 100,000 teachers to reduce teacher-student ratio in the classrooms, and introduced a Diploma for Education for teachers, there is still a long way to go. Boosting the quality of education will remain the main focus for the next program under preparation.

Last year, around 36,000 schools in 297 upazilas (sub-districts) were provided with grants to promote decentralized planning and management. More than 90 percent of schools received free textbooks within the first month of the academic year, and January 1 is now officially celebrated as Text Book Day in Bangladesh.

“All the schools have such dedicated staff and the students are eager to learn,” said Ms. Afroza, Upazila Education officer for Savar. “We feel proud of their achievements.”

Then a universal school ritual begins: the assembly bell; a voice on the loudspeaker asking the whispers to stop; and it’s time to sing the national anthem.

Comments

Submitted by Mohammad Salim Ullah on

Dear Shilpa Benerji, It's my pleasure as well as great honor to let you know that it's a wonderful as well as uptodate report has been written by you regarding a complete focus of education. Thanks a lot for your assignment in such modern civilization. However, I would like to add one more thing alongwith your writings that now-a days, our government has given more priority for Gender Equity. Moreoever, it's more interesting, in our public exam such as JSC, SSC & HSC Exam, female candidates are more than male students. So, we are getting fruits of it and women are encouraging to work together in National and International platform. Hope to interact with you more in respect to share our knowledge and experience, views and ideas. Looking forward------
Kind regards
Salim, Bangladesh

Submitted by aadhar card on

educate children is priority for the govt of a country. Bangladesh paying his responsibility very well. youth is the future of a country. if youth is educated then the future of that country will be bright. i appreciate worldbank to give money for educate children. scheme like aadhar card in india play a very important role to encourage children to go to school. govt of india give money to below povety line stutdent who are attached with aadhar card.some people download aadhar card from http://www.uidaiaadharstatus.in/ and get benifit of subsidy. this kind of scheme should be launch in bangladesh. so that more children come to school and get education.

Submitted by Dr Pradip Kumar Mishra on

Dear Shilpa Banerji
Thanks for the inspiring report on Bangladesh.
It is nice to see that Bangladesh is coming up in a big way in the filed of education for children.
Education should no more be a privilege but a right of every child in every country .
This is the best thing that every government can gift every child with !
With regards
Pradip

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