Information by Country

Bangladesh: Background

This map does not reflect a position by UNICEF on the legal status of any country or territory or the delimitation of any frontiers.
Bangladesh has a stable, growing economy, but living standards have yet to improve for the poorest and most vulnerable segments of the population.

Bangladesh has made significant increases in access to primary education during recent years. Gender parity based on enrolment figures has improved in both primary and lower secondary levels. But there are still large disparities in the upper levels of secondary schooling and in tertiary education, indicating lower expectations and limited opportunities for girls. Although the enrolment rate is relatively high, the completion rate is much lower. High drop-out rates and poor quality continue to be major challenges for the primary education system.

There are pockets of children who are not enrolling or continuing in school. Despite some noteworthy initiatives in Early Childhood Development (ECD) during the past five years, there are still very few school-readiness programmes, and most children enter primary school with no experience of preschool or other types of organized learning.

The basic education for urban children aims to ensure that the most disadvantaged children have access to primary education or its equivalent.

Barriers to girls’ education

Major barriers to girls’ education include:

  • Lack of trained teachers and lack of female teachers.
  • Inadequate school materials.
  • School environments that are unfriendly to girls.
  • Distances to schools.
  • Perceptions of lesser value and limited roles of girls.
  • Child trafficking.

Despite having achieved gender parity in primary school enrolment, Bangladesh still has a long way to go to achieve gender equity, access to quality education for all girls, completion of basic education with acceptable competency levels and relevant life skills, and equal roles for women and girls in society.

UNGEI in action

UNGEI was established in 2006 by UNICEF and the Minister of Education.

Key initiatives for girls’ education

  • Promoting girls’ education and empowerment in national policies.
  • Networking, and building alliances and partnerships.
  • Promotion of multidimensional and cross-sectoral approaches.
  • Support to formal and non-formal channels.
  • Promotion of girls’ education at every stage of the life cycle.
  • Promotion of girls’ participation and empowerment.
  • Inclusion of boys.
  • Monitoring of progress.


Partners include the Directorate of Primary Education (DPE) and Minister of Primary and Mass Education (MOPME),  Bangladesh Shishu Academy, BRAC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (United States), Save the Children Alliance and others.

UNGEI within other national and international frameworks

Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) and sector-wide approaches to planning (SWAPs); Common Country Assessments (CCAs) and UN Development Assistance Frameworks (UNDAF) exist at the national level. The key objectives of the Second Primary Education Development Programme (PEDP II) are to increase primary school access, participation and completion in accordance with the Government’s Education For All, Millennium Development Goals and other policy commitments.


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Bangladesh: Schoolgirls' Power
Part of Development 360, a project by the World Bank, illustrating how people around the globe are working with the Bank and other development institutions to transform their own lives today, and set the stage for their children's tomorrow.