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Extreme poverty forces many Bangladesh children to abandon education

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
3/21/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Families forced to move to areas where there is little schooling

Bangladesh, a developing nation has an ongoing problem with education. Primarily agricultural, many families live in extreme poverty. Many are forced to move to areas where there is little to no schooling. As a result, many children fall behind in their studies - forcing them to live in a world with limited opportunity.

According to a recent UNICEF study released in January, a total of 27 million children between the ages 5 to 13 do not attend school in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. In Bangladesh, 5.6 million children are not in school.

According to a recent UNICEF study released in January, a total of 27 million children between the ages 5 to 13 do not attend school in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. In Bangladesh, 5.6 million children are not in school.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
3/21/2014 (3 years ago)

Published in Asia Pacific

Keywords: Bangladesh, poverty, education


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Rasheda K. Chowdhury, executive director of the Campaign for Popular Education says that the drop-out problem is a multifaceted issue that requires multi-level initiatives. The drop-out rate here is higher among impoverished families and ethnic minorities.

"There are wide-ranging national and regional issues behind this, including poverty, lack of infrastructure and trained teachers, and a lack of a friendly environment for marginalized, tribal and disabled children," she says.

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According to a recent UNICEF study released in January, a total of 27 million children between the ages 5 to 13 do not attend school in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. In Bangladesh, 5.6 million children are not in school.

The Bangladesh government has claimed 100 percent primary school enrollment over the past five years. UNICEF estimates that current school enrollment in Bangladesh to be 98.7 percent, with Bangladesh one of few countries in the region where more girls, at 99.4 percent go to school than boys, at 97.2 percent.

Primary education here is free up to fifth grade. After that, families start racking up costs for school supplies and food, presenting a stage when the cost burden becomes challenging for disadvantaged families, resulting in maximum drop-outs.

There are reasons to believe that the situation is on the road to improvement. For example, the drop-out rate has fallen sharply in the past two decades, from 60 percent in the 1990s to less than 30 percent in 2013 on account of government incentives, such as monthly stipends for 7.8 million young schoolchildren and large-scale NGO projects like that of Caritas.

Bangladesh has also nationalized 26,193 primary schools. According to S. M. Mesbahuddin Islam, additional director-general at the Directorate of Primary Education, jobs for 140,000 school teachers have been created. The government has also started a school feeding program for three million children.

Chowdhury says the government stipend program was a significant step in reducing the drop-out rates among younger children, but she has more effective prescriptions.

"For poor children the government should make education free up to secondary level and the stipend amount needs to be doubled. But the most important step will be providing cooked midday meals in schools in poor areas," she said. "It will bring the drop-out rate down to zero."

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