Bangladesh

 

Room to Read Bangladesh focuses on literacy and girls’ education where literacy rates are among the lowest in Southeast Asia. Our Literacy Program encourages fluency and informs national curriculum, while our Girls’ Education Program uses acting to help girls graduate and negotiate key decisions.

Room to Read is a leading nonprofit for children's literacy  & girls' education programs at work in Bangladesh. Learn more, donate, or get involved. Support Our Work

Poverty, Child Labor Contribute to Dismal Literacy Rates

After a war of independence separated Bangladesh from Pakistan in 1971, natural disasters, famines, political turmoil, and military coups plagued the fledgling country. In 1991, despite economic advancements after the implementation of parliamentary democracy, challenges loom. Home to 159 million residents, Bangladesh is one of the world’s most densely populated countries. Poverty is in decline, but 31.5 percent of the population still lives below the poverty line and the country remains 142nd out of 179 countries on the Human Development Index. Many young children work to contribute to family incomes, which makes it difficult for them to attend school. In part due to this reality, Bangladesh has one of the lowest adult literacy rates in Southeast Asia.

Our Work in Bangladesh

Room to Read initially focused on rural areas—particularly the sandbar islands of the Sirajganj District, the low-lying terrain of the Brahamanbaria District, and the remote plains of the Natore District. We have made great strides in these districts, and our strong relationships with the local communities have helped us support primary school students and girls battling long-standing cultural barriers. In 2015, we expanded beyond rural areas and began our Literacy and Girls’ Education Programs within the city of Dhaka.

Room to Read is a leading nonprofit for children's literacy  & girls' education programs at work in Bangladesh. Learn more, donate, or get involved. Support Our Work

Lack of Access, Resources Contribute to 56 Percent Dropout Rate

The Bangladeshi government prioritized primary education by passing the Primary Education Compulsory Act in 1990, making education through grade 5 mandatory and free for all children. Nonetheless, the country’s education system is still lacking in quality and accessibility. Bangladesh has one of the largest primary education systems in the world, with an estimated 18 million primary school aged children. The student-to-teacher ratio in government primary schools is 59:1 and students attend class for only four hours per day, creating a challenging environment. Access to resources is also a problem, with no formal library system in schools.

School completion rates and academic achievement in Bangladesh remain low; 56 percent of all students drop out before secondary school. Just over 25 percent of students achieve the expected minimum competencies of primary school by age 11. Educational access is particularly poor in rural areas, where schools are scarce and children often work to contribute to the family. Rural area literacy is about 30 percent lower than in urban areas.

Why Bangladeshi Girls Need Help

Girls enroll in school at equal or higher numbers than boys through grade 5, and perform better. But female dropout rates skyrocket at the secondary level with attendance decreasing by roughly 18 percent for girls ages 13-17. The barriers to education increase dramatically for girls during this period, and include risks associated with leaving the home unaccompanied, expectations to contribute to the household, and pressures to marry. Between 2005 and 2013, 29 percent of girls in Bangladesh were married before the age of 15, and 65 percent of girls were married before the age of 18.

Schools provide little opportunity for girls to develop relevant life skills, limiting their potential for success and their participation in society. Of the 1.5 million girls out of school in Bangladesh, most have dropped out. 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.

 

Room to Read is a leading nonprofit for children's literacy  & girls' education programs at work in Bangladesh. Learn more, donate, or get involved. Support Our Work

Room to Read Helps Overhaul National Curriculum

After launching our programs in Bangladesh, literacy education improved at primary schools across the country. The national government took notice, and in 2010 it invited Room to Read to join a national curriculum overhaul committee. This was the first time nonprofit organizations were invited to join the government curriculum revision process and influence national literacy textbooks and teachers’ guides. In 2011, we led a national round-table discussion on how to best teach early grade literacy skills in Bangladesh. Our findings and recommendations were submitted to the Bangladesh National Curriculum and Textbooks Board and published in newspaper articles, blogs and official reports.

Girls Advocate for Education through Theater

Bangladesh has one of the highest early marriage rates in the world. About 66% of girls marry by age 18, and over one-third are married by age 15. This illegal but common practice often leads to girls dropping out of school. To combat this trend, students from our program in Bangladesh often use acting and performance art to advocate for prioritizing girls’ education over early marriage. Performing in front of their peers, families, community members and government officials, girls build their confidence and teach the value of delaying marriage to keep girls in school.

Room to Read is a leading nonprofit for children's literacy  & girls' education programs at work in Bangladesh. Learn more, donate, or get involved. Join Our Team

Room to Read Bangladesh
Please note that due to security reasons, we don't publish the address of our local Bangladesh office.

Phone: +88-02-9871201

More local information coming soon!

Join the Conversation: Bangladesh

Urban Realities

Meet Shahin, a child from the urban slums who hopes to go to school.

Room to Read is a leading nonprofit for children's literacy  & girls' education programs at work in Bangladesh. Learn more, donate, or get involved.
Room to Read is a leading nonprofit for children's literacy  & girls' education programs at work in Bangladesh. Learn more, donate, or get involved.

>600

More than 600 schools across Bangladesh have partnered with Room to Read through our Literacy Program.

>600

More than 600 schools across Bangladesh have partnered with Room to Read through our Literacy Program.

<1%

Less than 1% of girls supported by our Girls’ Education Program in Bangladesh dropped out of school in 2015.

<1%

Less than 1% of girls supported by our Girls’ Education Program in Bangladesh dropped out of school in 2015.

The Latest from Bangladesh

Room to Read is a leading nonprofit for children's literacy  & girls' education programs at work in Bangladesh. Learn more, donate, or get involved.

Benchmarking Reading Fluency in Bangladesh


October 16, 2017

Literacy, Bangladesh

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Room to Read is a leading nonprofit for children's literacy  & girls' education programs at work in Bangladesh. Learn more, donate, or get involved.

5 Ways Room to Read is Improving Worldwide Literacy


August 03, 2017

Literacy, India

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Room to Read is a leading nonprofit for children's literacy  & girls' education programs at work in Bangladesh. Learn more, donate, or get involved.

Breaking the Cycle of Illiteracy for the Love of Books


April 26, 2017

Literacy, Bangladesh

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Room to Read is a leading nonprofit for children's literacy  & girls' education programs at work in Bangladesh. Learn more, donate, or get involved.

4th Grader Raises $3k for Bangladeshi Students


March 15, 2017

Community, Bangladesh

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Room to Read is a leading nonprofit for children's literacy  & girls' education programs at work in Bangladesh. Learn more, donate, or get involved.

Turning Classrooms into Playgrounds with the IKEA Foundation


Dr. Geetha Murali

| November 20, 2016

Literacy, Asia

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Room to Read is a leading nonprofit for children's literacy  & girls' education programs at work in Bangladesh. Learn more, donate, or get involved.

Room to Read and IKEA Foundation Make Learning Fun For 93,000 Children in Bangla...


November 20, 2016

Press Releases, Asia

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Room to Read is a leading nonprofit for children's literacy  & girls' education programs at work in Bangladesh. Learn more, donate, or get involved.

For Room to Read, Quality Children’s Books Start in the Writers’ Workshop


June 29, 2016

Literacy, Asia

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Room to Read is a leading nonprofit for children's literacy  & girls' education programs at work in Bangladesh. Learn more, donate, or get involved.

#ThankstoEducation We Can Help Our Children Reach Their Dreams


November 09, 2015

Girls' Education, Asia

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Room to Read is a leading nonprofit for children's literacy  & girls' education programs at work in Bangladesh. Learn more, donate, or get involved.

Helping Some of the Most Vulnerable Girls in Bangladesh Do the Impossible


October 01, 2015

Girls' Education, Bangladesh

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Room to Read is a leading nonprofit for children's literacy  & girls' education programs at work in Bangladesh. Learn more, donate, or get involved.

Meet the Team: Human Resources Specialist Supriya Mondal


August 11, 2015

Community, Bangladesh

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Room to Read is a leading nonprofit for children's literacy  & girls' education programs at work in Bangladesh. Learn more, donate, or get involved.

A “Life-Defining” Exam


April 16, 2015

Girls' Education, Bangladesh

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Room to Read is a leading nonprofit for children's literacy  & girls' education programs at work in Bangladesh. Learn more, donate, or get involved.

She was pressured to marry at age 14, but Shwapna wanted a different future


December 09, 2014

Girls' Education, Bangladesh

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