The Education Sector

Bangladesh invests around 15 % of its national budget on education. The share of education in the  GDP is around 2.3%, lower than other countries in the region. The overall literacy rate is 63%. In 2011, primary education net enrolment stood at 98,7% and the primary completion rate at  71,3%. Bangladesh achieved gender parity in primary (50,5%) and secondary education in 2005. Bangladesh is likely to achieve 100% net primary enrolment by 2015 if the high drop-out rate (45,1%) can be curbed. However, reaching a 100% completion rate at primary level and a 100% literacy rate by 2015 is unlikely given the current trends and low level of learning achievement.  

The aim of Swedish support to education in Bangladesh is increased access to and improved quality of primary education for children living in poverty, with a particular focus on girls. The Swedish support is provided to the formal Third Primary Education Development Programme (PEDP 3), and in the non-formal sector to the Basic Education for Hard to Reach Urban Working Children (BEHTRUWC), and the Center for Mass Education in Science (CMES). The formal and non-formal interventions complement each other and contribute to fulfilling the goals in Bangladesh Education for All National Plan of Action.                                                    

I. Third Primary Education Development Programme (PEDP 3) 2011–2016

PEDP 3 is a five year sector programme support modality, supported by the Government and 9 Development Partners (DPs) including Sweden.  The total budget is USD 8,3 billion, of which the Government provides 85%. The Swedish contribution is MSEK 310. PEDP 3 covers the entire country through the public primary school system. In Bangladesh, about 83% of primary schooling is covered by the public sector, the remainder is covered by private schools and NGOs. The goal of PEDP 3 is to establish an efficient, inclusive and equitable primary education system delivering effective and relevant child-friendly learning to all Bangladesh´s children from pre-primary throughgrade V. The government ownership of the programme has been strong. Sweden in collaboration with the Government and other donors have been able to introduce results based management (RBM) to ensure a better focus on results and outcomes, and to support qualitative planning, implementation, and management, which are  among the weak areas.  Also, the BETHRUWC model (see below) will now be included in the PEDP 3.

II. Basic Education for Hard to Reach Urban Working Children (BEHTRUWC)   2005–2013

The BEHTRUWC project is a government project for 166 150 urban working children contributing to the gradual elimination of child labour in a country with 7-8 million child workers. It is funded by the Government, UNICEF, Sweden and Canada with a revised budget of USD 43,45 million. The Swedish contribution is MSEK 182,25.

Since opening of the learning centers (LCs) in 2006, there are 6646 LCs operating. The Swedish funds have been utilized for development of life skills based education materials, for opening new LCs, NGO support, certificates for children completing different cycles, training of trainers, teachers, supervisors, strengthening capacity in policy implementation and monitoring, and awareness building on child rights.

III. Center for Mass Education in Science (CMES)

In the case of CMES, Sweden contributed SEK 18 million for a former phase, as a co-financier with SDC (Swiss Development Cooperation). A new support is planned. Most of the quantitative targets in the previous phase were met, and substantial progress has been made with regard to qualitative targets that focus on better technical skills based curriculum, more support in employment/self employment initiatives, gender and poverty monitoring, and community social enterprises. Both these interventions cater to children and adolescents not covered by the formal system – dropouts, illiterates. With other similar interventions they help to contribute to the development of inclusive education in Bangladesh.