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Bangladesh: Secondary Education for All

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Secondary Education for All in Bangladesh
Innovation through Grants Deliver Quality Results

Overview

In order to improve secondary education completion rates and provide more opportunities for girls, the Bangladesh Female Secondary School Assistance Program, launched in 1993 and financed by the International Development Association (IDA), has increased overall girl’s enrollment in secondary schools in Bangladesh to over 4 million in 2006 from 1.1 million in 1991.

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Challenge

In 1991, girls constituted only about 33 percent of enrollment at the secondary-school level and of those, only a relatively small percentage passed the Secondary School Certificate. The two phases of the Bangladesh Female Secondary School Assistance Program, covering 119 out of 480 upazilas or sub-districts, were designed to assist the government implement its policy of improving the quality of, and girls’ access to, secondary education in rural areas of Bangladesh.


Approach

Since 1993, the Bangladesh Female Secondary School Assistance Program has provided tuition stipends, aiming to increase girls’ access to secondary education. It improved the quality of schools through teacher training, by providing performance incentives to schools and students, and by improving water and sanitation facilities. The project covered 121 of Bangladesh’s 507 sub-districts.


Results

Girl’s enrollment in secondary schools in Bangladesh jumped to 3.9 million in 2005, from 1.1 million in 1991, including an increasing number of girls from disadvantaged or remote areas in the country. This has enabled Bangladesh to achieve one of its Millennium Development Goals ahead of time—gender parity in education.

Highlights:

- Girls’ enrollment rose 67 percent in 17 years. Female enrollment, as a percentage of total enrollment, increased from 33 percent in 1991 to 48 percent in 1997 and close to 55 percent in 2008 overall.
- Girls’ pass rates soared. Secondary School Certificate pass rates for girls in the project area increased from 39 percent in 2001 to 63 percent in 2008.
- Training grew and focused on quality. More than 33,000 teachers were trained under the project. Some 64,000 members of school management committees and another 64,000 members of Parent-Teacher Associations from 6,000 institutions were trained in school management accountability, with a focus on education quality and conducive learning environments.
- Participating schools exceeded the target. About 7,000 schools—many more than originally targeted—participated in the program through a cooperative agreement with the Ministry of Education.
- New schools were built to meet needs. Twenty-five new schools were established to enhance access to secondary education in very remote areas and in disadvantaged communities.
- Additional benefits also accrued. Studies show that indirect benefits of the project included reduced early-age marriages and fertility rates, better nutrition, and more females employed with higher incomes.


Voices

Sabrina Yasmin, is a student benefiting from this program. Yasmin says she has seen a dramatic change in the role of women in the country and feels more confident as she attends school. Now she is better equipped to make good decisions.

Through my education, I have learned many things about society and country.

— Sabrina Yasmin


Partners

The stipends program has been a testing ground for innovations, where approaches and instruments pioneered under Female Secondary School Assistance Program have tended to find their way into other government- and donor-funded projects, including primary school initiatives, in Bangladesh and elsewhere. The project does not attempt to tackle wholesale reform, rather it is a piece within the larger efforts championed by the Government of Bangladesh in partnership with other donors, including the Asian Development Bank, the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, and the European Union.


Toward the Future

The stipends program has been a testing ground for innovations, where approaches and instruments pioneered under Female Secondary School Assistance Program have tended to find their way into other government- and donor-funded projects, including primary school initiatives, in Bangladesh and elsewhere. The project does not attempt to tackle wholesale reform, rather it is a piece within the larger efforts championed by the Government of Bangladesh in partnership with other donors, including the Asian Development Bank, the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, and the European Union.




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