Sumi, a bright 10-year old girl I met in Dacope Upazila, one of the most cyclone-prone areas in Bangladesh, has been on my mind as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Sumi wants to be a doctor to help the people of her village. To reach Sumi’s village, we traveled for an hour by speedboat. The cyclone shelter operates as a school and concurrently a haven during natural disasters. As the pandemic threatens to reverse a decade of human capital gains in Bangladesh, will she able to achieve her dreams?
Similarly, the share of households benefiting from social safety net coverage more than doubled from 12 percent in 2005 to 28 percent in 2016.
Bangladesh also achieved gender parity in school enrollment, leading to improvements in health and nutrition outcomes in early years. Studies show that participation in early childhood education is linked to significant improvement in literacy, numeracy, and socio-emotional skills development among children. That is why
Bangladesh also achieved gender parity in school enrollment, leading to improvements in health and nutrition outcomes in early years.
In addition, more girls and women now have access to higher education and health services.Moreover, a decline in fertility rates has led to an increase in female labor force participation.
Since 2009, the foundations for digital learning were laid with the establishment of the Bangladesh Research and Education Network (BdREN), setting up high-performance bandwidth, hotline numbers for students, secure network connectivity at institutions. Consequently, all higher education courses were streamed online during the lockdown. Today, an average of 3,800 classes are held online with more than 220,000 students attending.
But challenges remain. According to the 2020 Human Capital Index (HCI), a child born today in Bangladesh will be 46 percent as productive as she could have been, if she had complete education and full health. A child who starts school at age 4 can expect to complete 10.2 years of schooling by her 18th birthday. This score is lower than the average for the South Asia region and lower-middle-income countries.
Only a third of adult women participate in the labor market, and less than 6 in 10 youth not currently studying or in training are engaged in productive employment. Graduate unemployment is high due to skill mismatch as the job market demands change.
A child who starts school at age 4 can expect to complete 10.2 years of schooling by her 18th birthday. This score is lower than the average for the South Asia region and lower-middle-income countries.
The pandemic has exacerbated these challenges. The most vulnerable have been affected by income loss while gender-based violence has seen a significant rise during the lockdown. digital learning opportunities during the pandemic.. A recent survey shows that only one in five children from poor households is accessing
In such prevailing uncertainties, one cannot but wonder what the future of a girl like Sumi in a rural remote village of Bangladesh would look like. How can we respond to these challenges and build back smarter and better so that systems are fit for purpose and are resilient to future shocks?
There is no gainsaying that more and better investment in people is fundamental. This means more investments in a robust healthcare system, resilient and flexible education, and responsive social protection programs, particularly for the poor.
However,Efforts to digitize payment mechanisms mean poor households can receive cash support through secure mobile and other electronic financial services, closer to their homes. Moreover, And, offering a second chance for poor out of school children will lead to unleashing Bangladesh’s human capital potential which is key to economic resilience going forward.