literacy in bangladeshThe term “literacy” means far more today than in the past, incorporating not only the ability to read physical texts, but to also be able to comprehend and break down internet sources and articles as well. Bangladesh has been striving to make the country’s educational system develop these skills through the implementation of newer programs and the infusion of technology into schools. The government’s goal of creating an accomplished, educated population through digital education has helped to increase literacy in Bangladesh.

Education Overview

Bangladesh’s school system is broken down into four categories: pre-primary, primary, secondary and tertiary. The country currently has five years of compulsory education from age six to age ten. The country has been working to decrease the number of out of school children throughout the past ten years, with only 753 children not in school as of 2017. The number of out of school adolescents has also decreased, dropping from 2,776 children in 2010 to 995 children in 2017.

Impact of Digital Education

With these decreases in out-of-school children, Bangladesh has been working to increase the literacy levels throughout the country. Digital education is making access to reading materials and textbooks easier throughout all regions, which helps to improve literacy in Bangladesh. Using digital materials to increase the level of education in schools is helping children to understand the tools available through the internet and infuse a larger amount of knowledge into the current school systems in place. Many schools have adopted the use of technology to aid education throughout the country, incorporating digital white boards, tablet devices and learning apps to infuse more learning materials into classrooms.

JAAGO Foundation

One group working to improve literacy rates in Bangladesh is the JAAGO Foundation, which has helped through the creation of a digital school. This school helps to teach information and communications technology (ICT) to students, which was accredited by UNESCO in 2017 as an innovative, new method for ICT education. The school is set up into parts: a headquarters for teachers located in Dhaka, and classrooms in remote areas with video-streaming technology to broadcast lessons from the headquarters. JAAGO’s school also includes interactive calls between the students and the teachers in Dhaka so that these students have opportunities to ask questions and get individual learning time.

JAAGO has also partnered with Bangladesh’s government through the A2i project, which provides an e-learning platform for students looking for an online education. This platform, named Muktopaath, features both videos and educational lessons to supplement traditional education forms and help to increase the literacy rates throughout the country.

Literacy Rates on the Rise

Because of institutions like the digital school from the JAAGO Foundation, literacy in Bangladesh is currently at an all-time high, with 72.76 percent of the population being literate in 2016. This number has increased by 26.1 percent from 2007, where literacy rates were measured at 46.66 percent. The literacy rate for people between 15 to 24 has also increased drastically, from 61.87 percent in 2007 to 92.24 percent in 2016. These figures show how Bangladesh is working to break out of the Least Developed Country (LDC) designation and improve overall quality of education throughout the regions.

Bangladesh’s government has also been increasing funding to local schools to benefit the quality of literacy and education throughout the country. Government spending toward education was over $4.3 billion in 2016, which is more than double what the government spent in 2008. The National Education Policy of 2010 helped to make education accessible for everyone, and over 26,000 primary schools have been accredited by the government as national schools to ensure that a primary school is in every region of the country.

Literacy in Bangladesh has been steadily increasing by infusing technology into local schools. Through increasing government funding for schools and with the help of outside programs like the JAAGO Foundation, educational systems throughout the country are beginning to rise to meet international education standards. As more technology is added into school systems, Bangladesh will continue to improve in international standings and surpass LDC status within the next few years.

– Kristen Bastin
Photo: Flickr

Volunteer for Bangladesh
In recent years, education in Bangladesh has greatly improved. Poverty rates have decreased, and with it, hunger. But the nation faces many challenges.

Ready to meet these challenges are the members of Volunteer for Bangladesh (VBD). It is a branch of the JAAGO Foundation, a larger organization which works to provide all children in Bangladesh with access to a quality education. Both have strong ties to and receive financial support from the U.S. Embassy in Dhaka.

There is much work to be done, so the VBD mission is broad; to end poverty and hunger and to protect children’s rights, including their right to an education. The organization promotes gender equality, works to improve nutrition, educates on sustainability and aids in local development projects. Its projects are as varied as its mission tenets.

VBD awareness campaigns fall on holidays like Universal Children’s Day, when they “spread consciousness among mass people about children’s education.” On World Water Day, they raise awareness of freshwater resources, and on Income Tax Day, they speak on the importance of paying taxes.

Last year in Dhaka, Gazipur, Chittagong, Narayanganj, Khulna and Rajshahi, Universal Children’s Day VBD workers, four corporate partners and five local media groups built carnivals for underprivileged children. There were sporting events, visits to the zoo, merry-go-round rides and introductions to Mickey Mouse. For several hundred destitute children, it was a day on which they could enjoy being a child.

The theme for World Environment Day of this year was “more care for the environment, lessen the rise of the sea level.” It is a poignant message for Bangladeshi citizens, 15 million of who stand to lose their homes to rising ocean waters.

On June 5, 1,150 volunteers in bright yellow VBD t-shirts rode bicycles to 12 districts. They planted over 400 saplings to further their goal of “reversing the greenhouse effect.”

All VBD efforts are truly community endeavors. More than 12,000 people are now working in VBD projects. Volunteer for Bangladesh hopes to establish Action Groups in all of Bangladesh’s 64 districts by 2016.

– Olivia Kostreva

Sources: Volunteer for Bangladesh 1, Volunteer for Bangladesh 2, Volunteer for Bangladesh 3, JAAGO
Photo: The Daily Star