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The Report is divided into thirteen (13) sections, namely, (i) introductory remarks on Bangladesh, (ii) status of education, including stages of education and structure of the education system, (iii) EFA goals goals and targets, in relation to Framework for Action to Meet Basic Learning needs (six dimensions), (iv) EFA strategy and Plan of Action, (v) EFA decision making process and management, (vi) Cooperation in EFA, (vii) investments in EFA (revenue/recurring, development, foreign aid, (vii) progress towards goals and targets, (ix) effectiveness of the EFA strategy plans and programmes, (x) main problems encounterered and anticipated, (xi) public awareness, political will and national capacities, (xii) general assessment of the progress, and (xiii) policy directions for the futures.

Data base in Bangladesh is not very strong., The Technical Sub-Group had to labour much to reconcile inconsistencies in available data.


Basic Education refers to a whole range of educational activities that take place in different settings and that aim to meet basic learning needs as defined in the World Declaration on Education for All (Jomtien, Thailand, 1990). It thus comprises both formal schooling (primary and sometimes lower secondary) as well as a wide variety of non-formal and informal public and private educational activities offered to meet the defined basic learning needs of groups of people of all ages .

Basic Learning Needs comprise both essential learning tools (such as literacy, oral expression, numeracy, and problem solving) and the basic learning contents (such as the knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes) required by human beings to survive, to develop their full capacities, to live and work in dignity, to participate fully in development, to improve the quality of their lives, to make informed decisions, and to continue learning.

Buddhist Tol is a Centre for religious education in Pali language, especially for Buddhists.

Coefficient of Efficiency is a measure of the internal efficiency of an education system obtained by dividing the ideal number of pupil-years required for a pupil cohort to complete a level or cycle of education (e.g. the primary level) by the estimated total number of pupil-years actually spent by the same pupil cohort. The reciprocal of the coefficient of efficiency is the input-output ratio.

Compulsory Education refers to the number of years of the age-span suring which children and youth are legally obliged to attend school.

Early Childhood Development (ECD) programmes offer a structured and purposeful set of learning activities either in a formal institution (pre-school) or as part of a non-formal childcare programme. ECD programmes generally focus on children from three years of age and include organized learning activities that constitute not less than 30 per cent of the overall programme of care. For the purposes of this Assessment, ECD programmes involve children for at least two hours per day and 100 days in a year. This would include, for instance, all pre-school programmes.

Educational Institution has as its sole or main purpose the provision of education. Such institutions are normally accredited, or sanctioned, by some public authority.

Grade is a stage of instruction usually covered in one school year.

Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) is the total enrollment of pupils in a grade or cycle or level of education, regardless of age, expressed as percentage of the corresponding eligible official age-group population is a given school-year.

Hindus Tol is a Centre for religious education in Sanskrit language for Hindus.

Literacy is the ability to read and write with understanding a simple statement related to one’s daily life. It involves a continuum of reading and writing skills, and often includes also basic arithmetic skills (numeracy).

Literacy Rate is the number of literate adults expressed as a percentage of the total adult population, 15 years of age or older.

Mass Education in Bangladesh refers to Non-Formal education for the out of school children, youth and adults in basic literacy, simple numeracy and life skills.

Net Enrollment Ratio (NER) is the number of pupils in the officials school-age group expressed as a percentage of the total population in that age-group.

New Entrant is a pupil who enters primary education for the first time.

Non-formal education refers to any organized and sustained educational activities that do not correspond exactly to the above definition of formal education. Non-formal education may take place both within and outside educational institutions, and may cater to persons of all ages, Depending on country contexts, it may cover educational programmes to impart adult literacy, basic education for our-of-school children, life-skills, work-skills, and general culture. Non-formal education programmes do not necessarily follow the ‘ladder’ system, may have varying duration, and may or may not confer certification of the learning achieved.

Pre-primary Education refers to programmes at the initial stage of organized instruction, which are designed mainly to introduce groups of very young children, usually from age three or so, to a school-type environment, i.e. to provide a bridge between the home and the school. Such programmes are variously referred to as infant education, nursery education, pre-school education, or early childhood education. See also early childhood development programmes. In determining the boundary between simple child care and pre-primary education or between pre-primary and primary education, the following criteria may be taken into account: the educational character of the programme; whether it is based at a school or specially equipped centre; staff qualification; and the age-range of the children catered for. Pre-primary education generally aims at engaging groups of children in activities that encourage autonomy and enhance motor, cognitive and social skills, e.g. through stories, games, problem-solving, discussion, and building trustful relationships with other children and adults. Such programmes need to be distinguished from simple child-care programmes and day nurseries.

Primary Education (formal) refers to education, as determined by the Government, for the children of age group 6 to 10 years in grades 1 to 5 having prescribed national curriculum, textbook and school hours. The academic year begins in January and ends in December.

Primary School refers to schools offering primary education to the age group 6 to 10 years in grades 1 to 5, ranging for 5 years with new annual intake provision in grade 1 at age 6. There are three types of primary schools, namely Government primary school, Registered non-government primary schools and Community schools. In addition, there are Satellite schools for the children of grade 1 and 2 in un-served and remote areas, which serve as the feeder schools to Primary schools. Government primary schools are fully financed by the Government and managed by the local School Management Committee (SMC), while Registered Non-Government primary schools receive only salary subvention at a maximum rate of 80% of the basic salary of a government primary school teacher. Community schools are also Non-Government institutions having a partial salary subvention to the teachers from the Government. Satellite schools are housed in rented houses in the villages, the teachers having a fixed honorarium from the Government.

Promotion Rate is the percentage of pupils promoted to the next grade in the following school year. Some countries practice automatic promotion, meaning that all pupils are promoted, regardless of their scholastic achievement.

Pupil/Teacher Ratio (PTR) is the average number of pupils per teacher in a grade or cycle or level of education in a given school-year. In calculating pupil/ teacher ratios, other educational personnel such as administrators and support staff are not taken into account.

Repetition Rate is the percentage of pupils who are enrolled in the same grade in the following school year as in the current school year.

Survival Rate is the percentage of pupil cohort that enters together in the first grade of primary education and that reaches a given grade (e.g. Grade 5) or the final grade of an education cycle either with or without repeating a grade.

School-age Population: number of children in the officially defined primary school age-group, whether enrolled in school or not.

Universal Primary Education (UPE) means full enrollment of all children in the primary school age-group, i.e. 100% net enrollment ratio.


ADB Asian Development Bank.

ADP :Annual Development Programme.

ATEO :Assistant Thana Education Officer.

BANBEIS :Bangladesh Bureau of Educational Information & Statistics

BBS :Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics.

BIDS :Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies.

BRAC :Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee.

CLA :Continuous Learning Achievement.

CPA :Continuous Pupil Assessment.

CPE :Compulsory Primary Education.

CPEIMU :Compulsory Primary Education Implementation Monitoring Unit.

DAM :Dhaka Ahsania Mission.

DFID :Department for International Department.

DNFE :Directorate of Non Formal Education.

DPE :Directorate of Primary Education.

DPEO :District Primary Education Officer.

ECCED :Early Childhood Care, Education and Development.

ECD :Early Childhood Development.

ECE :Early Childhood Education.

EFA :Education for All.

ELC : Essential Learning Continuum.

FY :Financial Year(July-June).

GEP :General Education Project.

GOB :Government of Bangladesh.

GDP :Gross Domestic Product.

HSC :Higher Secondary Certificate.

INFEP :Integrated Non-Formal Education Programme.

MEP :Mass Education Programme.

NAEM :National Academy for Educational Management.

NANFE :National Academy for Non-Formal Education.

NAPE :National Academy for Primary Education.

NCTB :National Curriculum and Textbook Board.

NFE :Non-Formal Education.

NFPE :Non-Formal Primary Education.

NGO :Non-Government Organization.

NORAD :Norwegian Agency for Development.

NPA :National Plan Action.

PCU :Project Co-ordination Unit (GEP).

PMED :Primary and Mass Education Division.

PTI :Primary Training Institute.

SFD :Saudi Fund for Development.

SIDA :Swedish International Development Authority.

SMC :School Management Committee.

SSC :Secondary School Certificate.

TNO :Thana Nirbahi Officer.

TEO :Thana Education Officer.

UNDP :United Nations Development Programme.

UNESCO :United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

UNFPA :United Nations Population Fund.

UNICEF :United Nations Children’s Fund.

UPE :Universal Primary Education.

WCEFA :World Conference on Education for All.

WID :Women in Development.

Brief Description of Review Process

The Primary and Mass Education Division (PMED) of the Government of Bangladesh (GOB) is charged with the lead role in implementing GOB commitment to achieving the goals of Education for All (EFA) by the year 2000 AD. For the purpose, the PMED has taken up programmes for (i) increasing enrollment rate, (ii) reducing drop-out rate, (iii) decreasing illiteracy rate, and (iv) improving basic learning competencies.

The PMED has constituted a National Assessment Group with (Permanent) Secretary of the PMED as Chairperson and drawing membership from Ministries and agencies of the GOB, (e.g. Planning Commission, Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies, etc), selected NGOs UN agencies (e.g. UNDP, UNESCO, UNICEF, UNFPA), ADB and the World Bank.

The National Assessment Group has appointed a Technical Sub-Group for EFA – The Year 2000 Assessment. This Technical Sub-Group is presided over by the Joint Secretary (Development), PMED and he is designated as National Co-ordinator for EFA Assessment. The Technical Sub-Group has representation from Directorate of Compulsory Primary Education Implementation Monitoring Unit (CPEIMU); Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), Planning Commission, National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB), Bangladesh Bureau of Education Information and Statistics (BANBEIS), Directorate of Primary Education (DPE), Directorate of Non-Formal Education (DNFE), UNDP, UNICEF, UNESCO, UNFPA, and World Bank.

The Technical Sub-Group has, again, constituted a Core Group for Preparing the Assessment Report. A National Consultant (Mr Muhammad Sirajuddin) has prepared this Report with assistance from the Core Group of Technical Sub-Group. Two national workshops were organized to review the draft report. Based on the comments and suggestions of the workshops, the report has now been finalized.

The Core Group of the Technical Sub-group for EFA has investigated into sources and locations of data, collected data and information, analysed the same and prepared the Preliminary The Year 2000 Assessment.


The Land and the People

Bangladesh lies in the north-eastern part of South Asia between 20 34 and 26 38 north latitude, and 88 01 and 92 41 east longitude. The country is bounded on the west, north and north-east by India, and on the south-east by Myanmar. The Bay of Bengal is on the south. The area of the country is 147,570 sq. km. It is a riverine country. Three great rivers - the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna - and their 230 tributaries with a total length of 24,140 km. flow down to the sea through Bangladesh. The total land, excluding river and forest, is about 116,252 sq. km. (Statistical Year Book, BBS, 1997).

The population of the country is estimated to be 128.1 million (1999 AD). The density of population is 868 per sq. km. The sex ratio is 106 males per 100 females. Muslims constitute 88 percent of the population; the rest 12 per cent are Hindus (10.5%), Buddhists (0.6%) and Christians (0.3%).

Bangla is the mother language of the population. Usage of English is wide. It is pertinent to mention here that the UNESCO has paid tribute to the sacrifice that the people of Bangladesh has made for the cause of Bangla language, by way of proclaiming 21 February "International Mother Language Day" to be observed every year in all the UN member states and at UNESCO Head Quarters.

The form of Government is unitary and parliamentary. For administrative convenience, the country is territorially divided into six administrative Divisions: Barisal, Chittagong, Dhaka, Khulna, Rajshahi, and Sylhet. Each division is sub-divided into Zila (District), the total number of Zilas being 64. A Zila is sub-divided into Thana (sub-district). The total number of Thanas is 493 (including 30 in metropolitan areas). Dhaka is the capital metropolitan city. Other metropolitan cities are Chittagong, Khulna and Rajshahi.

The Economy

The economic structure of Bangladesh is still agrarian by nature, to the extent that the agriculture sector contributes 32 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), as against the contribution of 11.36 per cent by the industry sector and 22.98 per cent by trade/other services sectors. The annual growth rate in terms of GDP is 5.2 per cent at constant price of 1984-85 (Source:BBS). The per capita GDP is US Dollar 279 at 1998/99 market price @ Bangladesh Taka 49 for a dollar. The low level growth of the economy is attributed to low productivity of labour (178 in 1997 at 1989 indices of 100), coupled with high rate of population growth (1.6 per cent per annum in 1997).

Public Administrative System

The public administrative system in Bangladesh is unitary by nature. The presence of the central government is felt down to the household level, meaning that normal administrative and development activities are conducted by the central government through its own functionaries.

At the Division level the Commissioner is the agent of the central government for co-ordination of law enforcement and maintenance of good order. He collects land revenue for the central government through Deputy Commissioners in their capacity as District Revenue Collectors.

The Deputy Commissioner is the virtual agent of the central government within the territory of the District. For maintenance of law and order, he functions as District Magistrate and he is helped in this respect by a corps of magistrates who are assigned with job of dispensing criminal justice. In this respect, the police assists the District Magistrate. The Deputy Commissioner also co-ordinates all inter-sectoral development activities within the district.

The District is sub-divided into sub-districts, presently known as Thana. The head of the Thana is the Thana Nirbahi Officer (TNO) who is the agent of the central government for the purpose of maintenance of law and order, collection of land revenue, and co-ordination of all inter-sectoral development activities.

It may be noted that at Division, District and Thana (sub-district) levels, the central government has representatives of inter-sectoral development departments/agencies, including education, responsible for implementation, linear supervision, and co-ordination of socio-economic development projects under various sectoral programmes.

There is no administrative unit below Thana level, even though a Thana is demarcated into Union Parishads and a Union Parishad into wards, as local government units and are managed by elected representatives. However, some Thana level offices have outfits down to the union/village level.


Bangladesh inherited, on Liberation in 1971, a literacy rate of 17.61 per cent of the population of all ages. Education of the masses was considered a prime-mover area of intervention for modernization and development. The Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh obligates the government to adopt effective measures for:

Therefore, the GOB has taken a good number of measures, including taking over the management of private primary schools in 1973 under the Primary Education (Taking Over) Act, 1974. Later on, the Programme of Universal Primary Education (UPE) has been initiated and a separate Directorate of Primary Education (DPE) has been created (1981) with its administrative structure down to the Thana level. This action has been followed further through promulgation of Primary Education (Compulsory) Act, 1990 and creation of Primary and Mass Education Division (PMED) in 1992, which provides administrative support to policies and programmes for universalization of primary education (UPE) and removal of illiteracy. In addition, a Compulsory Primary Education Implementation Monitoring Unit (CPEIMU) was created in November 1990, firstly, as and integral part of MOE and later of PMED, to help monitor the implementation of CPE and also to carry out the Child Education and Literacy Survey biennially. CPE committees have been established at Ward, Union, Thana, and District levels for social mobilization in favour of primary education at the grass roots level. For the implementation and management of non-formal education (NFE), a separate Directorate of Non-Formal Education (DNFE) was established in 1995.

Management of Basic Education

PMED is the apex body for the management of primary and non-formal education in the country. It has two line Directorates, namely, (i) Directorate of Primary Education (DPE) and (ii) Directorate of Non-Formal Education (DNFE).

CPEIMU, in addition to other function, administers salary subvention to registered non-government primary schools and honorarium to teachers to the teachers of community schools.

DPE is mainly responsible for implementation of primary education programmes and management of its day to day affairs. It has field offices at the Division, District and Thana levels.

The DNFE initiates coordinates and monitors implementation of non-formal education programmes through District Administration and NGOs.

Programmes related to EFA

In order to achieve education for all, Bangladesh has taken up programmes for:

Basic education in Bangladesh is delivered through two systems : (a) the formal system and (b) the non-formal system. The existing Strategic Framework of Basic Education in Bangladesh (Figure-1) has consummated adequately government policies for attaining maximum benefit out of public and private endeavours, both in the formal and non-formal systems. The key agencies in this respect are the Directorate of Primary Education (DPE) and the Directorate of Non-Formal Education (DNFE) under the Primary and Mass Education Division and the Bangladesh Madrasah Education Board (BMED) under the Ministry of Education (MOE). Besides, there are community and private organizations, as well as, non-government organisations (NGO) who offer basic

Figure -1

education to the disadvantaged and dropout children in their non-formal education centres. The formal system is the predominant one, while the non-formal system is complementary and supplementary to it (Figure-2). Some NGOs also run adult education centres with financial support from GOB, and development partners.

Formal Education

Formal education is offered in Bangladesh in a 5-year cycle of primary education, 5 years of secondary education and 2 years of higher secondary education. Higher education comprises 2-5 years courses and beyond. A parallel system of religious education also exists with similarly advancing levels through Ebtedayee, Dakhil, Alim, Fazil and Kamil Madrasahs for Muslims, Sanskrit Tols for Hindus, Pali Tols for Buddhists and English Seminary for Christians. According to PMED official records, there are about 63,534 primary schools, 13,000 secondary schools, 10 cadet colleges, 1700 general colleges and 27 government and non-government universities. There are 115 institutions offering technical and vocational education of different types and at different levels. The number of government medical colleges is 13 and that of private medical colleges is 5. In addition, there are 24 Homeopathic, 5 Ayurvedic and 10 Unanani system of medical colleges and 68 teacher training institutions of different categories. There are also a number of institutions for special type of education, such as 239 Sanskrit and Pali Tols, some 2,500 Kindergartens, 8231 Ebtedayee Madrasahs, and 78,821 mosque based Maktabs/Hafezia/Forkania Madrasahs devoted to early years of religious teachings (Source: BBS, BANBEIS and DPE).

Madrasah Education in Bangladesh

Madrasah education system is a formal one, in addition to the general education stream, and consists of a well established Islamic religion based education stream. It was officially introduced in 1882 following the Hunter Education Commission Report. Madrasah education comprises five stages, eg., Ebtedayee, Dakhil, Alim, Fazil and Kamil levels, ranging for 5, 5, 2, 2, and 2 years, respectively. As of now Ebtedayee, Dhakil, and Alim have been recognized as equivalent to Primary, Secondary (Junior Secondary and Secondary education) and Higher Secondary levels respectively.

Religious education has an important place in the school curriculum. It is a required subject of study up to grade 8 and can be studied as an elective subject at higher levels. Efforts are now underway to integrate general education with madrasah education. Ebtedayee madrasahs also enroll children of age 6+ to 10+. The Ebtedayee curriculum/course includes (1) the Qur’an and Tazbid, (2) Akaid and Fikah, (3) Arabic, (4) Bangla, (5) English, (6) Arithmetic, (7) Environmental Study: Social Studies; and (8) Environmental Study: Science. This curriculum resembles that of general primary education where religion education replaces the Qur’an, Arabic and Fikah.

The courses of studies in the madrasahs are being updated and modernized so that the madrasah graduate may have access to higher studies in science and technology and find gainful employment. Alrady madrasah graduates are moving into medical and engineering courses as well as universities. For creating opportunities of higher studies and research in Islamic Shariah, Arabic Language and Literature, Islamic History and Culture as well as a number of modern subjects, an Islamic University has been established. However, in today’s context, it would be necessary and desirable to introduce science and trade courses in all madrasahs, to provide

Figure -2

training to the madrasah teachers, and to strengthen opportunities of higher education and research at the higher Islamic Institute.

Presently there are about 9,500 independent and 2,850 attached Ebtadyee madrasahs under the administrative control of the Ministry of Education . The number of Dakhil madrasahs is 4487, that of Alim 949, that of Fazil 899 and that of Kamil is 120. Almost all of these have been established by the community and operated by the Managing Committee recognized by the Bangladesh Madrasah Education Board. The GOB provides salary subvention to the teachers of recognized madrasahs as well as development supports at a limited scale.

Stages and Duration if Education

Counting normal academic sessions, 16 years of regular study is supposed to be required from entry into the primary school to completion of Master degree for general education or Bachelor degree for professional education, (except for medicine which requires one year longer.) Without repetition in any class or loss of any academic year due to any reason, a boy or a girl taking admission to grade I of a primary school at the age of 6 should get his/her M.A./M. Sc. degree at 21/22 years of age (Figure-3).

The stages of general education and duration of courses, and official age-group of students is summarised in Table-1 below:

Table - 1

Stage of General Education and Age of Student

Stage of General Education

Duration Official Age

Early Childhood Education

  4-5 years

Primary Education

Grades 1 – 5

5 year course 6-10 years

Junior Secondary Education

Grades 6 – 8

3 year course 11-13 years

Secondary Education

Grades 9 – 10

2 year course 14-15 years

Higher Secondary Education

Grades 11 – 12

2 year course 16-17 years

Bachelor’s Degree

(General Education)

2/3/4 years 18-19/20/21 years

Master’s Degree

(General Education)

2/1 years 19/20-21/22 years

Source: Education for All : National Plan of Action, GOB, 1995, P-7.

Entry into formal technical-vocational education takes place after the completion of the 8th grade, and professional education in engineering, agriculture, medicine after completion of the 12th grade.

Figure -3

Non-Formal Education

Education implies learning, irrespective of where and how the learning takes place. Education is also a life long process, assuming different forms, of which formal schooling is only one form. As distinct from hierarchically structured and chronologically graded formal education system, an accepted definition of Non-Formal Education is:

"That form of education which consists of mostly assortment of organized and semi-organized educational activities operating outside the regular structure and routines of formal system, aimed at serving a great variety of learning needs of different sub-groups of population, both young and old".[ Reference : Education for All : National Plan of Action, GOB, 1995, P-33 ]

It is recognized that some non-formal education programmes cater to the same learning needs as the schools and could provide for alternative channels of education which cannot be covered by formal schooling. While the non-formal approaches have room for flexibility and innovation, their efficacy and wide acceptance is dependent on maintaining quality and standards. Those children who cannot or do not get enrolled in primary schools, those who drop out from schools, the adolescents who relapse into illiteracy or those young and adult people who have never benefited from any schooling would perpetually remain in darkness unless some non-formal opportunities are opened up for their education. DNFE took initiatives to design programmes to cater to the needs of these segments of the population (e.g. Integrated Non-Formal Education Programme) and engages NGOs on contract to impart basic education. Side by side, a good number of NGOs have taken up programmes for basic education (DNFE records, 1998, and CAMPE Records, 1995).

International Commitments of GOB

The World Conference on Education for All (WCEFA) held in Jomtien, Thailand, during 5-9 March, 1990, unanimously adopted the World Declaration on Education for All (EFA) by the Year 2000 AD and agreed on the Framework for Action to Meet Basic Learning Needs. Bangladesh is a signatory to the World Declaration on Education for All. Bangladesh is also a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the World Declaration on Survival, Protection and Development of Children, at the World Summit for Children held in New York (September 1990). As a follow-up of the WCEFA, a National Plan of Action (NPA) for EFA has been prepared under the guidance of a National Committee chaired by the Prime Minister. Bangladesh has also participated in all EFA review meetings such as EFA Summit of Nine High Population Countries, held in Delhi (December 1993) and Ministerial Meetings in 1995 held in Indonesia and in 1997 held in Pakistan. Bangladesh has reiterated its commitment on EFA in other various international fora and has incorporated into the NPA all these commitments. The NPA enjoys political and public support from every stakeholder.

EFA Assessment

The objectives of the EFA Assessment in Bangladesh are: (i) to provide current status of primary and non-formal education since the World Conference on Education for All held in Jomtien in 1990, (ii) to analyze the different indicators of EFA activities/targets for measuring the achievement/ progress towards the goals 2000 AD, (iii) to identify obstacles in the way of reaching the goals set in the WCEFA vis--vis goals set in the NPA, (iv) to provide suggested measures to overcome the obstacles, and (v) to suggest strategies to be adopted by 2000 to provide opportunities of basic education for all. This report provides empirical data for critical analysis of EFA indicators.

This country report also highlights the progress made so far in achieving EFA by 2000 and problems encountered during the reporting period. The findings of the report will hopefully help policy makers, planners and managers at national level to get an overview of the past and to get an insight about the vision beyond 2000.


EFA Targets with Regard to Components of Basic Education

The Jomtein Framework for Action to Meet Basic Learning Needs has identified six (6) target dimensions, namely:

The NPA of the GOB has set targets in respect of these dimensions. In some of the dimensions, as may be seen hereafter, targets are not in discrete quantitative terms; these are rather in descriptive form. The NPA has been approved by the National Committee on Education for All by 2000. The Committee consisted of high level representatives from ministries and agencies of the GOB, major NGOs, Parliamentarians, journalists, and educationists with the Prime Minister as Chairperson. The NPA has received wide acceptance from all quarters.

Early Childhood Care, Education and Development (Dimension – 1)

In Bangladesh, the concept of Early Childhood Development (ECD) and the need for Early Childhood Education (ECE) as well as other supportive activities for the development of the child has not been well established. There are many primary schools that have "baby classes" and many privately owned kindergartens that have "play-group"/ "nursery-group" sections; but their impact on child development has not been studied in details. ‘Baby class’ is a pre-primary education arrangement attached to primary school. Although this arrangement is recognized by the government, this type of education is not properly administered, nor is systematically supervised. Teaching-learning materials are not designed through any scientific process. This is a sort of loose form of education arrangement, helping children become school oriented. Child development focus is not obvious in this arrangement. Maktab, a popular religious institution to teach reading of the Qur’an and religious rites to Muslim children, plays an important role in early socialization of children. Similar institutions are Sanskrit Tols for Hindus, Pali Tols for Buddhists and English Seminary for Christians. But their contributions in relation to basic learning needs have never been under systematic studies.

ECCD Programme

In this report, the programme will refer to (for practical purposes) early childhood education programme. The programme for ECCD under the EFA has been incorporated in the NPA. The objective, targets and programme contents of the ECCD are as follows:

Objective:Nurturing the children for their physical and mental development and preparing them for schooling with right attitude and habits.

Target Groups:Children of 4 - 5 years.

Estimated Population :1991 - 7.30m

2000 - 8.40m

Coverage:1995 - 2.34m

2000 - 4.20m

Major Constraints: Lack of awareness and experience, and lack of data, institutions, learning materials and trained teacher

Cost:Tk. 23,370m

Programme Contents Include:

The ECCD programme of the GOB intends to have the coverage of children of =>4 -5 years of age in pre-primary education in government managed and government recognized schools having "baby classes; but there is no specific project or programme and therefore no defined target. Any target for private sector and NGO education centres is not known. No aggregative data are available to indicate target in respect of the NGO centres. This is one of the weakest areas, as far as EFA goals and Targets are concerned.

Universal Access to, and Completion of Primary Education by the Year 2000

(Dimension – 2)

Universal access to, and completion of primary education, is the most important target of intervention by the GOB within the Framework for Action to Meet Basic Learning Needs under the EFA. The targets as stated in the National Plan of Action (NPA), include :

The main strategies adopted for the attainment of above targets have been as follows:

Programme for EFA in Primary Education

The programme for primary education seeks to achieve universal primary education. The details are as follows:

Objective:Universalization of primary education while increasing   enrollment specially increasing girls’ attendance and completion.

Target Group: Children of 6 – 10 years.

Estimated Population: Year Total Female


2000/ 19.70m / 9.62m

1995/ 18.26m/ 8.91m

CoverageYear / Total / Female

1995/ 14.95m/ 7.05m

2000 / 18.71m / 9.04m

Major Constraints:Inadequacies of necessary facilities, weakness in management, poverty of parents and weakness in demand for education.

CostTk. 142,662.0m

Major Programme Contents

      1. monitor continuously the quality of teaching in primary schools within the thana,
      2. provide refresher courses and specialized training to ATEOs at the thana level, and
      3. carry out continuous evaluation of the education management at the thana level and participate in operational research studies.

Improvement in Learning Achievements (Dimension-3)

The GOB has planned to address the following aspects for improving learning achievements:

Relevance of Curriculum:

For the purpose of improvement in learning achievements the GOB has identified 53 terminal competencies to be attained at the end of primary education cycle. Majority of students will attain at least the competencies of grade-4. The primary education curriculum will be modified further as an EFA target to make it more relevant to the changing learning needs of the children.

Elimination of Gender Disparity:

To eliminate gender disparity and ensure wide participation of women in development activities, steps will be taken to eliminate discriminatory concepts from the curriculum about boys and girls. More women will be appointed as teachers (at least 60 percent) as well as officials at various levels of the management of primary education. Opportunities of admission of girls in growing numbers with the school attractiveness programme will be ensured.

Instructional Material:

Textbooks and teachers’ guides are two most important learning materials necessary to enhance student achievement. These are perennially in short supply and are either not available in time or not affordable by the users. Efforts will be taken to eliminates these problems. Supply of textbooks free of cost will be continued.

Contact Hour:

Students of Grades 1 and 2 are required to attend 24 periods per week, each of 30 minutes’ duration, the total contact hours being 444 hours per year of 37 weeks. Similarly, students of Grades 3, 4 and 5 have to attend total of 34 periods per week, of 35 minutes duration the total contact hours being 734 hours per year. But the actual contact hour is far less due to many unforeseen interruptions, such as, rains, floods, festivities, sports, illnesses, etc. Therefore, contact time will be increased.

Teacher : Pupil Ratio

Teacher-pupil ratio is highly related to improving learning achievements. The desired norm is considered to be one teacher for 30 pupils, but this can be attained only gradually. In the National Plan of Action, requirement of teachers has been envisaged at 374 720 in 2000 AD.

School Environment

In 1991 shortages and overcrowding of classrooms, lack of teaching aids and learning aids, shortage of furniture, fittings and other supplies, lack of playgrounds, pure drinking water supply and sanitary toilet facilities, etc., had been much below the desired level. These constraints have been sought to be removed and school environment improved by 2000 AD through building 100,000 new classrooms of at least 50 squire metre area, renting 50,000 rooms for feeder schools, supply furniture and fittings, providing sanitary latrines and drinking water supply, providing teaching aids, etc. (Source: NPA of GOB, 1995).

Management Support

For imparting quality education and improving learning achievements, it is necessary to have good management at school/learning centre level and also good management, including efficient monitoring, at mid and higher levels. In the NPA, the GOB has taken up programmes for strengthening School Management Committees (SMC) and Parent-Teacher Associations (PTA), and offices of Districts Primary Education Officers and Thana Education Officers. The Directorate of Primary Education provides support to all organizations involved in this respect.

Academic Supervision and Monitoring

Inadequacies in supervision and management have been identified as major constraints to not only increasing enrollment and reducing dropout rates but also low quality of learning competencies. The DPE is the apex organization for supervision and monitoring management of schools and other learning centers through a chain of functionaries at the Division, District and Thana levels. The DPE, therefore, remains responsible for ensuring.

The DPE is also responsible to establish a strong management information system.

Assessment System:

The present system of learning by rote and examination on the ability of reproduction of memorized matters defeats the purpose of student’s learning assessment. The necessity of building up interests in continued schooling and improving efficiency calls for introducing effective Continuous Pupil Assessment (CPA) or Continuous Learning Achievements (CLA), and a monitoring system to prevent wastes and inefficiency. For this purpose skills of teachers are to be developed.

Teacher Training and Motivation:

To create a cadre of well-motivated, disciplined and professionally competent teachers continuous training and re-training are considered essential. The earlier system of 10-months pre-service training has been discontinued, and they are now required to undertake in-service training of twelve months course for Certificate-in-Education at Primary Training Institutes (PTI). The National Academy for Primary Education (NAPE) organizes short training sessions ranging from one day to 10-12 days duration for specific purposes like curriculum dissemination, multi-grade teaching, course management, administration, etc. It has been proposed that teachers’ training activities be improved by having institutional improvements at PTIs. The state of training and skill development of teachers of the private schools is stated to be more deplorable. Nearly 63,000 or about 40 per cent of all government and non-government teachers are yet to receive any kind of training. The content of the C-in-Ed course of training of teachers and its delivery are being thoroughly overhauled to address the insufficient competency of the primary teachers.

Reduction of Adult Illiteracy Rate, Especially the Disparity between Male and Female Illiteracy Rates (Dimension-4)

Non-Formal Education (NFE) is found highly effective in Bangladesh in addressing the problem of large-scale adult illiteracy because of its having the following characteristics:

Considering the advantages of NFE in the context of EFA, the GOB has taken up programme for non-formal education of children, adolescents and adults.

Non-Formal Education (NFE) Programme for children and adolescents

ObjectiveProvide a good quality basic education through low-cost alternative channels to those who were deprived of opportunities for formal schooling and also offer a second chance of learning to the school dropouts.

Target groups:Children and adolescents of 6-14 years.

Estimated Population:1991 / 14.70m

1995 14.57m

2000 2.83m

Coverage1995 / 11.95m

2000 / 12.19m

Major Constraints Overlooking the potentials of private and non-government initiatives, past lukewarm support for NGO efforts, absence of policy guidelines for capturing NGO potential, want of institutional framework, inadequate resource allocation and lack of resources.

Cost :Tk. 6,250 million

Programme Contents

Implementation of the government programmes for NFE through the Directorate of Non-formal Education (BNFE).

Earmark funds to provide subvention for expanding NGO and community level activities for literacy programmes.

Encourage NGOs and other community level organizations to draw up innovative programmes for literacy expansion at least cost.

Assist community level organizations and other non-government organizations to replicate successful models of integrated learning and other multi-sectoral development as well as skill generation for the adults.

Offer training facilities, monitoring and evaluation services and other technical assistance to non-government efforts.

Prepare framework and guidelines for curricula and syllabus for NFE to be followed by everybody as far as possible without restricting innovations and piloting of models.

Encourage Ministry of Social Welfare and other concerned government organizations to take up programmes of basic education for the handicapped and also urge NGOs to undertake extensive programmes for the physically and mentally handicapped, marginalized groups, and arrange material support for implementation of those.

Programme for Reduction of Adult Illiteracy Rate

Objective:Provide illiterate adults, with focus on women, opportunities for developing reading, writing and understanding the contents and also developing need-based functional/ vocational skills as well as creating opportunities for them to continue to learn.

Target Groups:Population of 15-45 years.

Estimate Population (million):

Year / Total/ Female

1991/ 47.57 /23.46

1995/ 52.93 /26.10

2000/ 59.80 /29.48

Coverage Year Literates Literacy (%)
1995 / 27.1 / 40
2000 / 46.9 / 62

Major Constraints : Lack of policy guidelines and want of effective thrust on eradicating adult illiteracy.

Cost Adult/Continuing/Total Cost

Education/Education/(in million taka)

8,251/ 1,100 /9,351

The GOB programme for reduction of adult illiteracy rate has been incorporated in the National Plan for EFA and also in the Fifth Five-Years Plan (1997-2002) document.

Programme Contents

Firm up the scope of work under the government project for Expansion of Integrated Non-Formal Education.

Launch massive social mobilization and start a nation-wide movement for eradication of illiteracy involving all likely persons in all communities.

Prepare for establishing at least one literacy centre in each village by 1995 to be implemented by the local communities and the NGOs.

Develop a model curriculum for the students of the adult literacy centres .

Establish a National Academy for Non-Formal Education (NANFE) which will be suitably staffed to conduct surveys, data collection, research, evaluation, making syllabus perfect for non-formal adult education, etc., and to provide necessary technical supports to community level/NGO initiatives for adult education.

Establish a suitably staffed Directorate of Mass Education (DME) under the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education to administer the national mass literacy programmes.

Assist community level organization/NGOs as well as the local government institutions including the proposed Village Development Committees to have access to the use of the national press, radio, television, etc., for advocacy and education as well as provide financial supports for developing and disseminating information on adult education and its contents through posters, cinema slides, printed materials, folk arts, etc.

Provide funds for the development and distribution of specially prepared extension materials for propagating functional knowledge in agriculture, fisheries, livestock, horticulture, etc., written in simple language and illustrated with pictures.

Provide financial support for establishing a small public library in each village equipped with suitable textbooks and reading materials.

Institute suitable monitoring and evaluation system for the nationwide adult literacy activities and provide for appropriate incentive and rewards for successful and innovative works in the field of adult literacy as well as achieving outstanding result.

Expansion of Basic Education and Training in Other Essential Skills Required by Youth and Adults (Dimension-5)

In the formal stream of education in Bangladesh, there is no provision for providing basic education and training in essential skills required by youth and adults. But the traditional home-learning of skills in artisan families includes:

These skills provide means of livelihood, and entitlement to limited social status. In addition, children and adolescents, particularly in urban area learn technical skills as helpers/assistants in various workshops and small manufacturing plants. Non-formal education provided to adolescents, youth and adults lays stress on acquisition of life skills. In the government this is being done as a multi-sectoral activity particularly in the form of skill learning for earning income through self- employment. Given the mass scale of unemployment and poverty, the scope of training/ education needs to be widened and to be made more effective. But this aspect has not been duly taken up as a thrust area in the programmes within the framework of EFA.

It is to be noted, however, that the GOB has included in the sectoral programmes of the Fifth Five Year Plan (1992-2002) arrangements for expansion of basic education training in essential skills. Thus the Women’s Affairs Directorate, the Directorate of Youth Development, the Department of Social Service, the Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC), the Bangladesh Rural Development Board (BRDB), the Bangladesh Handloom Board (BHB), the Bangladesh Silk Board (BSB), the Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET), and a host of NGOs have programmes and targets for skill development and training in critical trades having growth potential. The targets for 1997-2002 is to train 6.35 million in skill in growth sector trades for employment. The BSCIC has skill development programme in trades on a continuous basis. Whereas skill development is being pursued by several Ministries and Departments of the GOB in diverse area, and by NGOs as well, there has not been any specific aggregative target with reference to EFA goal .

Objectives for women in development seek to reduce the gender gap in literacy rates and in access to educational opportunities, including skill development and technical training.

Increased Acquisition by Individuals and Families of the Knowledge, Skills and Values Required for Better Living, Made Available Through all Education Channels.


The NPA for EFA does not provide for specific goals and targets for increased acquisition of knowledge, skills and values by individuals or families that they require for better living, made available through all education channels; but in practice this is taking place. Economic and social development efforts of various government agencies and NGOs are using varieties of methods and media to raise consciousness and skills of people, particularly poor, seeking to empower them for improving their life style.


Bangladesh, having already a large population of 128.1 million and still growing at the rate of 1.6 per cent, has to deal with complex issues in approaching the goals of education and development. Children of the age group 0-4 years constitute 12.69 per cent of the population and of age-group 5-9 years 15.30 per cent. About 3 million students seek entry into nursery/preparatory schools and about 4 million students have to enter the primary system of education, and 49 per cent of these admission-seekers are females. But the number of schools is not adequate to admit the current demand for education. Female education, particularly among the poor and illiterate parents, is not perceived to be a matter of high priority. Widespread child labour persists as both cause and effect of lack of education.

The disparity between urban and rural population is noticeable. About 80.37 per cent of the population live in rural areas with lower income and fewer facilities for education. There is also disparity between the rich and the poor in both urban and rural areas.

Poverty and lack of facilities for education make the dropout rate as high as 59.7 per cent at the primary level, and the cumulative effect of non-attendance and dropping out made 65 per cent of the adult population illiterate in 1991.

The situation has been taken into account by the National Plan of Action for EFA, which has also been reflected in the Five-Year Plan documents. The Fifth Five-Year Plan (1997-2002) has been built on the basic principles, objectives and programme experiences of the preceding Fourth Five-Year Plan (1990-1995) and interim Two-Year Plan (1995-1997). As far as EFA goals and strategies are concerned, the Fifth Plan seeks to pursue the following objectives and strategies as follow up of the previous plans:

Five Years Plan Strategies

For attaining the above objectives, the GOB has adopted, among others, the following strategies :

Policy Measures

Resources necessary for plan implementation are one of the constraints, and determining the share of basic education in the national budget and strategies for mobilizing private resources are some policy issues. Whereas the tax-base in Bangladesh is poor, allocation of resources for education has to compete with demands from other sectors. Efforts are being made to involve non-government organizations (NGO), private sector and local communities in education programmes.

Secondly, development of primary education and reduction of illiteracy hinge on positive response from the community, which can best be administered through local government supervision and management. It is considered important that local governments accept the responsibilities and mobilizes resources at the local level to supplement resources made available by the central government.

Women constitute 49 per cent of the population, of which female children of age group below 9 years constitute 33.43 per cent of women population and 12.64 per cent of total population. The GOB has addressed the gender issue by making education free for female students up to 10th grade. This has been made a permanent feature.

It is recognized that women teachers are suited better to teach students at lower grades; but women teachers normally prefer to live with own families and do not like to work in locations beyond family habitats. The issue is being addressed to ensure that at least 70 per cent of teachers in each institution are women and from within the locality.


The Primary and Mass Education Division (PMED) of the Government decides upon policy matters and generally directs activities related to EFA. The Directorate of Primary Education (DPE) implements and manages projects/activities related to Primary Education. The Directorate of Non-Formal Education (DNFE) is responsible for management and implementation of Non-Formal Education, Adult Education/Total Literacy Movement/Gram Shikkha Milon Kendra (Village Continuing Education Centres), and related activities including government-NGO collaborative programmes on NFE/Adult education.

For EFA policy-making, monitoring and evaluation of programmes/projects/activities, there is a National Assessment Group (NAG) headed by the (permanent) Secretary of the PMED and composed of membership drawn from related agencies.

The NAG is assisted by a Technical Sub-Group for EFA The Year 2000 Assessment. The Joint Secretary (Development), PMED, is the convenor of the EFA Assessment Technical Sub-Group.

For the Year 2000 Assessment of EFA, the Technical Sub-Group has constituted a Core Group with a consultant to prepare the National Report.


Formal basic education services are provided by government primary schools, registered non-government primary schools, kindergartens and Ebtadayee and Dakhil Madrasahs and privately managed schools and Madrasahs. Non formal education, including adult education, is imparted through NGOs by the DNFE. Irrespective of the type of educational institutions and the stage of learning, the PMED decides upon policy matters related to EFA. (Figure-2)

The World Bank, ADB, IDB, OPEC, SFD, USAID, DFID, NORAD, CIDA, SIDA, SDC, KFW, GTZ, UNESCO, UNICEF and UNFPA are major external agencies that are cooperating with the GOB in EFA activities. Within Bangladesh, major NGOs like BRAC, DAM, BLS, Swanirvar, PROSHIKA, etc. are working to supplement GOB efforts.


Public Expenditure on Primary Schooling

Expenditure Trends

Public expenditure on primary schooling has been increasing since 1990, keeping EFA goals in track. Most of public expenditure has been incurred during 1991-1998 on

Public Sector Investment for Primary Education

Though the National Plan of Action of Education for All up to 2000 AD provides for principally a 7- year plan of action, its implementation has to be linked up and coordinated with the on-going operational and development activities of the Government financed through its Revenue Budget and the Annual Development Programmes within the framework of the Fourth and Fifth Five Year Plans and the Three Year Rolling Investment Programmes. Therefore, EFA programmes up to 2000 AD has been divided into two phases as below:

PHASE - I :FYs 1992 to 1994-95,

PHASE - II : FYs 1995-96 to 1999-2000.

The investment cost for both recurring cost and development cost for ongoing and new projects during phases I and II has been estimated at Tk. 191,122.6 million. The details are provided below:

Table -2

Cost of Basic Education Projects, Phases I and II, Financial years 1992 - 93 to 1994 - 95 and 1995 - 96 to 1999 - 2000

(Taka Million)






Phase I









Phase II
















Source: National Plan of Action, PMED, 1995, p. 73.

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