In the past 20 years there have been remarkable changes in Bangladesh in relation to its education system. Increasing attendance at university is about encouraging young people to enter the education system at primary level and continue with their studies. In 2015 enrolment rates for primary school were 98%. Of these 98% a proportion may remain in education and continue into university level study.
Nevertheless, despite these promising signs there are still a number of challenges.
#1 Quality and Relevance
With a workforce of 87 million, the majority are uneducated. Only a minute proportion, 4% of employees have qualifications higher than secondary school. When National Learning Assessments were undertaken, poor literacy and numeracy skills were commonplace, with a maximum of 44% of students in Grades 5 to 8 demonstrating proficiency in English, Maths and Bangla. Scores for poorer students were even lower. Students had poorly developed reading skills and the curriculum, teaching approaches and examination systems focused on rote learning rather than skills based learning.
#2 University education
Education at this level is not given much consideration. Employers believe that graduates are inadequate to serve the labour market. As a result, young people would be reluctant to embark on university education because of the low recognition it is given by employers.
The Ministry of Primary and Mass Education are responsible for the delivery of education at primary level and the Ministry of Education accountable for secondary and higher education. The government have recently announced that free and compulsory education will be available for all students up to grade 8. By focusing on the quality of primary and secondary education, students will be better equipped to enter into higher education if they choose to do so.
The government spend approximately 2% of GDP on education which is the lowest expenditure in South Asia. Without further commitment to invest in education, the prospects look particularly bleak for university education in Bangladesh.