The Government of Bangladesh has made primary education a high priority since passing the Primary Education Compulsory Act in 1990, which made education through 5th grade mandatory and free for all students. Nonetheless, Bangladesh still faces many educational challenges.
It has one of the largest primary education systems in the world, with an estimated 18 million primary school aged children (ages 6 to 10 years). Because of this, the student to teacher ratio in government primary school is 59:1, which is challenging for students and teachers alike, and school hours are limited to four hours per day. Access to resources can also be a problem, with no formal library system in the country’s schools.
As a result of these and other factors, school completion rates and academic achievement in Bangladesh remain low, with 56% of all students dropping out before secondary school.
As in many other developing countries, educational access is particularly poor in rural areas, where schools are few and far between and children are expected to work to contribute to family income. This divide is reflected in the stark contrast between literacy rates in rural and urban areas—a nearly 30% difference.
For girls in Bangladesh, the barriers to education are even greater than those of their male peers, with cultural norms and early marriage often preventing young women from fulfilling their academic potential.