Education for adolescents

Not lost in transit, but preparing for success

Girls participate in physical exercise as part of school activities at Chowrapara, Rangpur

The challenge

There is an urgent need for more skills-based education opportunities

Despite there being a very high transition rate from primary to secondary schools in Bangladesh, a comparatively few can continue learning in the education system.

These children form three categories:  

1.  Those out of school, including dropouts and those never enrolled

2. Those attending school, but at risk of dropout

3. Those completing their education, but without employment skills

Fourth grade student in Dhaka

The proportion of children in secondary schools in Bangladesh is lowest in South Asia. Barely 46 per cent of the 95 per cent who pass the primary school level

The net enrolment rate in secondary education is only 50 per cent, with girls higher than boys. The secondary school cycle is not completed by 75 per cent of children at that age. The rate of girls dropping out of sixth and seventh grade is more than double than boys.

Dropout rate reaches a peak in eighth grade. At this stage, 14.6 per cent of both boys and girls leave school

Their vulnerabilities around education are influenced by other vulnerabilities: gender discrimination, socioeconomic status and living in hard-to reach areas. If dropouts are to be prevented, school lessons need more quality and relevance, especially to skills needed for employment. 

Because of the distance students must travel to reach school, many adolescents in hard-to-reach areas stop going to classes

There are even more factors: the cost of education, the absence of child-friendly environment and lack of protection from sexual harassment. Girls also drop out because they are married early.

The mainstream form of education cannot support all children, who require more options beyond formal education. But there is limited scope of alternative or skills-based education, which can eventually lead to better livelihoods.        

Saiful Islam, 14, displays his English alphabet writing skills capacity at the UNICEF-supported Ability Based Accelerated Learning at Satkhira's Tetulia Upazila
Saiful Islam, 14, displays his English alphabet skills at the UNICEF-supported Ability Based Accelerated Learning at Satkhira's Tetulia Upazila.
 Saiful Islam, 14, is pursuing his primary education. He works as a van-puller in early mornings and afternoons to support his mother and attends school starting at 10:00 am.
Saiful Islam, 14, is pursuing his primary education. He works as a van-puller in early mornings and afternoons to support his family and comes to school late at 10:00 am.

The solution

UNICEF employs many interventions for adolescents based on their needs

For out-of-school adolescents, UNICEF creates alternative learning pathways, as per the National Technical and Vocational Qualification Framework, that link them with employment.

Working with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and BRAC, a supervised informal apprenticeship programme has been setup for out-of-school adolescents.

Foundational, transferable and employable skills are offered to adolescents under Second Chance Education and other flexible alternative education options.

UNICEF creates pathways for Technical and Vocational Education and Training or TVET, which provide strong relevancy and motivate learners to continue education. Two-thirds of adolescents say they want to enrol in TVET and get apprenticeships, according to the Education Watch survey.

UNICEF gathers evidence to include these alternative pathways in the national education programme, besides costed action to increase access and retention in education.

Eti Akter, 16, works on motobike repairs
Eti Akter, 16, repairs a motobike at a school supported by UNICEF.

For in-school adolescents, UNICEF focuses on removing barriers to increase the flow and continuation of secondary education.

UNICEF improves the condition of secondary schools through school-based planning. It is an approach that keeps adolescents in school, reduce dropout and increase secondary cycle completion.

Communities have major impacts on adolescents. So society figures including religious representatives are tasked with monitoring the developments needs of children

UNICEF strengthens platform like school cabinet to engage adolescents who face many personal and social challenges, from drug addiction to sexual harassment and early marriage.

UNICEF bases its long experience and expertise on mainstreaming life-skills based education to increase relevancy of secondary school education by embedding skills in to curriculum, teaching learning process and teacher.


Adolescent data

National Strategy for Adolescent Health 2017-2030; Directorate General of Family Planning, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare