Top 10 Facts about Poverty in Bangladesh
The small South Asian nation of Bangladesh has undergone economic development and extremely rapid population growth. Despite economic growth in the country, Bangladesh struggles with overwhelming poverty. In order to gain a better understanding of poverty and how it’s changing in the country, below are the top 10 facts about poverty in Bangladesh.

List of Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Bangladesh

  1. Bangladesh’s economy has grown rapidly since developing the industry and service sectors of the economy. This led to increased job opportunities and standard of living. In 1980, Bangladesh had a GDP of $18.14 billion. As of 2016, the country’s economy has risen to a staggering estimated $261.4 billion, ranking as the 43rd highest in the world.
  2. Although Bangladesh’s GDP has always been relatively high due to agriculture, GDP growth in the country has increased exponentially in recent years. This GDP development was catalyzed in the early 1990s, with approximately 5.76 percent average GDP growth. As of 2017, Bangladesh has continued to maintain its growth at 7.3 percent.
  3. Industry and services form a large part of Bangladesh’s economy, with specialized jobs and manufacturing continuing to increase. The service industry accounts for a majority of the GDP in Bangladesh at an estimated 56.5 percent, while industry and agriculture contributions compose 29.2 percent and 14.2 percent of the GDP respectively. Although the service industry contributes the most to Bangladesh’s economy, 63.2 percent of the country’s 163 million people work in industry and agriculture.
  4. The unemployment rate in Bangladesh is low, with an estimated 4 percent unemployment rate. While economic opportunity has been improved for many Bangladeshis, this number is somewhat inaccurate due to underemployment rates. An estimated 40 percent of laborers are underemployed and work only a few hours a week with very low wages.
  5. Poverty rates in Bangladesh have also steadily dropped as the country’s economy improves. In 2010, 31.5 percent of the population was deemed to live below the line of poverty, which is defined as living on $1.90 a day. This number dropped to 24.3 percent by 2016.
  6. In addition to decreasing poverty rates in Bangladesh, the number of those in extreme poverty, living on just $1.90 purchasing power parity a day has also dropped significantly. The rate of employed workers living in extreme poverty was at 73.5 percent in 2010 and has dropped drastically to 14.8 percent in 2016. Poverty and hunger, however, remain serious issues in Bangladesh. According to 2014-2016 estimates from Asian Development Bank, an estimated 15.1 percent of the population suffers from undernourishment.
  7. Life expectancy in Bangladesh has risen drastically, catalyzed by rapid infrastructural and economic expansion. In 1960, the average lifetime of Bangladeshis was approximately 46 years and has more than increased to 72.5 years by 2016.
  8. School enrollment in Bangladesh has increased as development began to increase. In 1980, only 20.5 percent of primary school students completed their full studies, while this number has increased to 66.2 percent by 2016. This increase in academic persistence is likely attributed to more opportunity for skilled laborers and decreased levels in poverty.
  9. Despite increased primary school enrollment in Bangladesh, the adult literacy rate in the country is relatively low at 72.76 percent. In young adults aged 15-24, however, the literacy rate is much higher at 92.24 percent, and the female literacy rates are relatively higher at 93.54 percent than males at 90.91 percent.
  10. In the capital city of Dhaka, issues of population density have arisen, as the city’s population is over 18 million people (in the Greater Dhaka area), nearly an eleventh of the country’s population. This population density is one of the highest in the world.

These top 10 facts about poverty in Bangladesh showcase an improved economy that offers more opportunities for its many citizens. A drastic increase in the service and skilled industries along with manufacturing and agricultural growth, has allowed the country to improve its standard of living.

Although the economy has rapidly developed, poverty for many in Bangladesh still persists. With more development and emphasis on education and diversified economy, poverty will continue to decrease in Bangladesh.

– Matthew Cline
Photo: Flickr

Education in Bangladesh
On May 26, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina made an impassioned speech at the convocation of Kazi Nazrul University. She addressed education in Bangladesh and it’s ongoing struggle to eradicate extreme poverty, claiming “to get rid of poverty, education should be of the utmost importance.”

Playing a Role in Poverty

There is evidence to back up Hasina’s statement that education in Bangladesh plays a crucial role in the welfare of the economy. According to the Global Campaign for Education, the average individual’s income increases by 10 percent for each year of schooling they complete. A study by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s Institute of Statistics even found that if every adult attained a full primary and secondary education, the number of people living in poverty worldwide would be less than half of what it is today.

Why such a strong correlation between poverty and education? The simplest answer is when someone is well-educated, they have more skills (or can learn skills more easily) that can be used in the workforce. This makes them more likely to be employed and have a steady income.

But there are less obvious reasons explaining how enhancing education in Bangladesh may help its citizens escape poverty. Studies show the more education a woman receives, the fewer children she is likely to have. This means she won’t have to spend as much to provide for her family. If this trend continues on a large scale then the population will decline, resulting in more employment opportunities and less strain on resources.

Education in Bangladesh

Bangladesh currently ranks 128th in global literacy with 72.8 percent of its population aged 15 or older being literate, compared to the 86 percent average worldwide. The most recent data shows 24 percent of people aged 15-24 in Bangladesh have not completed primary education and 44 percent have not completed secondary education.

Women Empowerment

In 2010, the government implemented a new national education policy focusing on gender equality in education in Bangladesh. Some of the measures included greater allocation of funds specifically toward women’s education, stipends for underprivileged women who wish to pursue higher education and a reformation of the cultural attitude toward women in school and the workplace. This is an issue Hasina has been outspoken about, stating that proper education is necessary in order to empower women.

The 2010 national education policy also pushed for students to pursue careers in science, engineering and technology. These fields are of the highest importance in today’s fast-paced world, and educating students about them in school means they will be better prepared for the tech-driven workforce. In this way, Bangladesh hopes to stay ahead of the curve, unlike many other African nations still relying on agriculture as their economic foundation.

The World Bank reports that nearly 25 percent of Bangladeshis are currently living at or below the poverty line (surviving on $1.90 per day). Steps still need to be taken to lift the Bangladeshi people out of this struggle. But the Hasini administration has the right idea about how to help, and if there is a strong enough push for education in Bangladesh, it just might be on the road to eradicating extreme poverty.

– Maddi Roy

Education in BangladeshBangladesh has made remarkable gains over the past two decades in the education sector. In 2016, statistics from Bangladesh Bureau of Educational Information and Statistics (BANBEIS) showed great developments in gross enrollment with 112.1 percent of children listed in primary education. The ratio of girls to boys also improved that same year. This allowed Bangladesh to achieve gender equality for educational access in both primary and secondary education. Despite victory in registration and elimination of gender disproportion, challenges continue to keep Bangladesh from advancing further. Here are three problems facing education in Bangladesh.

  1. Literacy
    The UNESCO Institute for Statistics shows Bangladesh literacy rates still need some upgrading. Approximately 30 percent of the population 15 years or older still struggle to successfully read and write. According to the Bangladesh Education for All  (EFA) 2015 National Review, the blame could partially be placed on the obstacles involved with universal access and completion of primary education. Public examination scores for Bangladesh show a gap between grade completers, those sitting for the public completion examination, and those passing the examination.
  2. Assessment Scores
    National Student Assessments from this same EFA report display low test scores at the end of the primary education cycle. Test results show only 25 percent of students successfully obtain reading capabilities by the end of primary school. Similarly, only 33 percent of students master proficiencies in mathematics. The rest of students finish primary education with knowledge that is short of expectations in the reading, writing and math curriculum for Bangladesh. Findings from earlier grades conclude that many students are falling short of achieving relevant competencies because they are not meeting appropriate targets set early on. If students do not consistently meet recommended goals throughout primary education, weak scores will continue to result.
  3. Dropout Rates
    UNICEF suggests the Bangladesh dropout rate remains an issue due to children’s need to help with farming, poor teaching methods, crowded classrooms and unappealing educational surroundings. Though the average dropout rate shows a decrease of more than half during 2005 to 2013, 19.2 percent of students still do not complete primary school. According to BANBEIS Educational Database, 10.5 percent of boys dropped out of Grade 4 in 2016. This contributed to the total dropout rate of almost 10 percent of students in Grade 4 that same year. It is also noted that progress in decreasing dropout rates is beginning to slow. Since 2012, dropout rates have only decreased by about 2 percent. This is sluggish activity compared to the 23.1 percent decline recorded from 2008 through 2012.

By focusing on reducing poverty, education in Bangladesh should continue to improve. Speed bumps are part of the road trip towards Bangladesh accomplishing the most out of their education system. With these three problems facing education in Bangladesh already known to researchers, policies can be made to steer future direction.

Emilee Wessel

Photo: Flickr


Ripped apart by rivers, drenched by monsoons and floating just above the sea, Bangladesh is like the toe that the Himalayas are using to test the waters of the Indian Ocean. All of this exposure to water leads to yearly flooding, an immense challenge for the developing nation of 156 million. From crop loss to infrastructure damage, the costs of flooding are massive hurdles to poverty reduction; the floods in 2004 costed the country seven billion dollars. Perhaps the most insidious impacts of the floods is their disruptive effects on education in Bangladesh.

Founded in 1998, the Bangladesh nonprofit Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha, recognized how the floods prohibited students from making it to school and decided to bring the school to them. They achieve this by bringing boats up the flooded waterways, which serve as both school buses and schools.

A fleet of 22 boats sail up the swollen rivers stopping to pick up children before they dock and class begins. Each boat takes around 30 children and has a small library and access to the world’s largest library through computers hooked up to the Internet and powered by solar panels.

With primary school attendance around 80%, increasing access to education is high on the agenda. The boat schools provide classes to an estimated 1,810 children. Although many more remain in need, Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha reaches some of the most vulnerable.

What’s more, the boat schools provide critically-needed adult education that focuses on sustainable agriculture, healthcare and climate change adaptation. These programs holistically target the restraints that keep them in poverty.

For example, the climate change workshops help farmers develop production methods, such as floating vegetable gardens and raising fish and ducks, that can endure longer flooding periods and raising sea levels, both of which are effects of a changing climate. The lessons on sustainable agriculture help farmers to reduce erosion and pollution, and increase yields. These programs work together to clean the environment, increase access to food and boost incomes. Healthcare, Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha’s other focus, brings medicines and doctors to rural parts of the country that have no access to clinics, keeping the populations healthy throughout the year.

What is even more important is that the success of the floating school model appears to be scalable. Many other parts of the world face similar issues that climate change will exacerbate. Cambodia, Nigeria, the Philippines, Vietnam and Zambia are all testing this innovative development strategy. The humanitarian arm of the United Nations that focuses on children and mothers, UNICEF, praises this method as “having a transformative impact upon education and communities in flood-prone regions.”

– John Wachter

Sources: Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha, World Bank BBC, UNICEF 1 UNICEF 2
Photo: Tenders On Time

education in Bangladesh
As one of the most densely populated countries in the world, Bangladesh has long struggled to accommodate its growing population. With only half of Bangladeshi children receiving an education, Volunteers Association for Bangladesh (VAB) has set out to improve access to education, especially in the rural parts of the country.

Around 3 out of 4 Bangladeshis live in rural villages, making it difficult to access schools. More often than not, these areas lack adequate infrastructure, funding and teachers, hindering children’s ability in receiving quality education. VAB is currently working on providing scholarships and tutors to students, in addition to training teachers.

VAB mainly focuses on high schools, where the future remains bleak in rural Bangladesh. There tends to be a very high dropout rate that many attribute to the alarmingly high rates of poverty. Many students cannot afford to go to school and do not receive any stipends when they do. In addition, there is poor subject knowledge and insufficient teaching methods among school staff, creating a difficult learning environment for Bangladeshi students. In addition, the staff has limited equipment to use in their classrooms. Since there is very little spent on education in Bangladesh, high schools in rural areas often lack computer labs, necessary textbooks and enough classroom space.

In 2010, VAB developed a five-year plan to move forward. One of their main goals is to decrease dropout rates and keep classroom sizes much smaller than the average of 60 students that classrooms have now. The strategy also focuses significantly on school faculty involvement, with the hopes that teachers can identify improvement projects and help implement them.

Given that the most important resource of any country is its people, Bangladesh has invested more in education. The country’s national budget has also allocated more funds towards educational programs, as well as to make it more accessible to a larger segment of the population. These efforts have shown improvements, and the Bangladesh education system is markedly better than it was a few years ago. The Bangladesh education board has also taken steps to improve teaching practices, which will hopefully provide students with a brighter future.

Leeda Jewayni

Sources: Volunteers Association for Bangladesh
Photo: Flickr