Helping all children to reach their potential
Bangladesh faces a number of challenges in providing accessible and quality education to all children and adolescents.
Only 19 per cent of children aged 3-5 attend an early childhood education programme. Despite Bangladesh’s success in near universal enrolment in primary education among both girls and boys, data suggests that the older they get the more children drop out of school. For girls, this is often due to child marriage, and for boys, it is often due to child labour.
Only 64 per cent of children go on to complete secondary education. This is worrying, given that Bangladesh’s 58 million children represent 34 per cent - a significant chunk - of the population, and the future of the workforce rests on their young shoulders.
The poorest children, children with disabilities and children living in disaster-affected parts of the country are most at risk of being excluded from school.
For example, children with disabilities are seven times more likely to be out of school than other children, while married girls are over four times more likely to be out of school than their unmarried friends. Nearly 20 million children in Bangladesh are seriously exposed to climate hazards, with floods, cyclones, extreme heat and droughts frequently disrupting their education.
At the same time, many children who do attend school struggle to acquire basic academic skills. Less than a third of children aged 3-5 are on track to meet literacy and numeracy goals. Only 43 per cent of 10-year-old students in Bangladesh were proficient in reading before the COVID-19 pandemic, and only 25 per cent of secondary school graduates attained basic competencies.
Barriers to accessible and quality education were further exacerbated by the pandemic as children in Bangladesh faced one of the longest school closures in the world.
If Bangladesh is to achieve its vision of becoming a middle-income country, it cannot afford to have millions of children drop out of education or leave school without basic literacy and numeracy skills.
This is why UNICEF is working with the Government of Bangladesh to build a robust education system which is inclusive, relevant and accessible. UNICEF is also working to improve the rate at which children complete secondary education so that they can keep learning by equipping them with blended education opportunities, skills and smart technologies.
.To do this, UNICEF and partners are focusing on three priority areas:
Early learning: UNICEF strengthens the capacity of the education system to ensure that early learning and pre-primary education is available to all children, so that progress towards attaining key skills begins as early as possible.
Quality inclusive primary education: UNICEF enhances national capacity and the education system to deliver uninterrupted high quality primary education that is accessible to all, including the most disadvantaged and marginalised children.
Education and skills for adolescents: UNICEF works to enhance national capacity to strengthen education and skills for adolescents embedding transferable skills into the curriculum to prepare young people for the 21st century. It also works to institutionalize alternative learning pathways for the most disadvantaged out-of-school adolescents with life and livelihood skills and essential services to reduce their vulnerability.
UNICEF is also working to strengthen national capacity to deliver education that is resilient in the face of emergencies and climate change.