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Education of Bangladesh


The education system and structure of Bangladesh has three major stages-primary, secondary and higher educations. Primary education is a 5-year cycle while secondary education is a 7- year one with three sub-stages: 3 years of junior secondary, 2 years of secondary and 2 years of higher secondary. The private schools also receive strong financial support from the state. The tertiary education (3-5 years) is provided through universities (34 public and 60 private universities) and affiliated colleges under supervision of University Grants Commission. Establishment of private universities has gained momentum in recent years. At all levels, students can choose the medium of education from Bangla or English.

The Ministry of Education is the supreme state office for education which again is subdivided in different directorates for each level while running numerous development projects (Education Projects and Technical projects). According to the article 17 of the Constitution, all the children of Bangladesh are supposed to receive full free education up to secondary level. Secondary and higher secondary schools are affiliated under ten (10) education boards. The boards administer three public examinations – Junior School Certificate (JSC) Examination, Secondary School Certificate (SSC) Examination and the Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) Examination. The higher secondary schools are known as colleges. There are also Madrasah (religiously inclined) and English medium schools which are enrolled under Madrasah Education Board and Foreign Education Board respectively. Besides this, a Technical Education Board has been established to administer the vocational training schools at post secondary level in Education Board. The National Curriculam and Textbook Board is the authority to develop, approve and manage the curriculum and text books for primary, junior, secondary and higher secondary level. Government has also established Bangladesh Bureau of Educational Information and Statistics (BANBEIS) which keeps educational information at all levels. Bangladesh Government has published an Education Policy which is developed based on the inputs taken from different education commissions over the years. There are also many non-profit organizations which operate informal and semi-formal education for underprivileged children under supervision of Bureau of Non-formal Education.

Ministry of Education is the apex policy making institution of the Government regarding administration and development of post-primary education sector. Ministry of Education formulates policies and programs for the development of post-primary to higher education including Madrasah, Technical and Vocational education. It also formulates laws, rules and regulations for the management and administration of post-primary education sector and its institutions of the country. There are several attached bodies for supervision and management of formal education in post-primary and secondary schools, colleges, madrasahs, technical schools and colleges, polytechnic institutes, engineering colleges and universities. There are about 35121 post primary secondary schools/colleges/madrasahs and 36 public and 79 private universities.

Education System:
Human resource development is at the core of Bangladesh’s development efforts and access to quality education is critical to poverty reduction and economic development. The Government is committed to undertaking structural reforms that are expected to bring significant improvements in the education sector. Bangladesh’s commitment to education has been clearly stated in its Constitution and development plans with education being given the highest priority in the public sector investments. Education sector allocations are currently about 2.3 percent of GDP and 14 percent of total government expenditure. Maintaining this commitment to the education sector is imperative in order to achieve Education for All (EFA) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The management of the education system falls under two ministries – the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education (MoPME, responsible for primary education and mass literacy) and the Ministry of Education (MoE, responsible for secondary, vocational and tertiary education). Overall there are more than 17 million students at the primary level, and over 8.0 million at the secondary level. Enrolments at the tertiary level are relatively small but growing very rapidly.

Bangladesh has made significant progress, especially in regard to increasing access and gender equity, both at primary and secondary levels. Gross primary enrollment rates rose from 90 percent in the late 1990s to 99.47 percent in 2013, while a corresponding increase in enrollment rates at the secondary level rise to 44 percent. Gender parity in access to primary and secondary education has also been achieved. These achievements are particularly spectacular when compared to countries in the South Asia region and other countries at similar levels of per-capita income.

The Government is strongly committed to alleviating the existing problems in respect of management and quality through reforms across the education system. At the primary level, MoPME is supported by a multi-donor group through the Primary Education Development Program III (PEDP III), which aims to strengthen educational access, quality and efficiency.

In order to address issues at the secondary and higher levels, MoE has developed a medium-term framework for the secondary education sub-sector, focusing on quality improvements, policy measures and specific actions needed to reform the system. The development of this medium-term framework has benefited from an extensive range of consultations and workshops with stakeholders at the central, district, and upazila levels. The main objective of reforms being proposed is to address systemic governance issues aimed at raising the quality and cost-effectiveness of service delivery, and improve equity of access in secondary education.

MoE is aiming to move towards a devolved system of governance within the current administrative structure. In this system the central government will be responsible for formulating policies, financing, setting quality standards, and monitoring and evaluation etc., while lower levels of government will be responsible for administering the system. MoE is empowering officials at the district and upazila levels to take greater responsibility in monitoring school performance and ensure public disclosure of information (e.g., SSC passing rates, teacher absenteeism, class sizes, etc.) related to school quality.
To ensure appropriate financial controls, MoE is implementing a Financial Management Reform Program (FMRP). This is intended to increase accountability and transparency in the use of resources.

Structure of the Education System :
Education in Bangladesh has three major stages-primary, secondary and higher educations. Primary education is a 5-year cycle while secondary education is a 7- year one with three sub-stages: 3 years of junior secondary, 2 years of secondary and 2 years of higher secondary. The entry age for primary is 6 years. The junior, secondary and higher stages are designed for age groups 11-13, 14-15 and 16-17 years. Higher secondary is followed by graduate level education in general, technical, engineering, agriculture, business studies, and medical streams requiring 5-6 years to obtain a Masters degree.

In the general education stream, higher secondary is followed by college/university level education through the Pass/Honors Graduate Courses (4 years). The masters Degree is of one year’s duration for holders of Bachelor Degree (Honors) and two years duration for holders of (Pass) Bachelor Degree. Higher education in the technical area also starts after higher secondary level. Engineering, agriculture, business, medical and information & communication technology are the major technical and technological education areas. In each of the courses of study, except for medical education, a 5- year course of study is required for the first degree.