Education in Bangladesh

Education in the People's Republic of Bangladesh
Ministry of Education
Ministry of Primary and Mass Education
Minister for Education

Minister for Primary and Mass Education
Nurul Islam Nahid

Mostafizur Rahman
National education budget (2015)
Budget US$2.185 billion
(171 billion Taka)[1]
General details
Primary languages Bengali, English
System type National
Compulsory Education
4 November 1972
Literacy (2015)
Total 75.4%[2]
Male 77.1%
Female 71.5%
Total 23,907,151
Primary 16,230,000
Secondary 7,400,000
Post secondary 277,151
Secondary diploma 335,454
Post-secondary diploma 86,948

The educational system in Bangladesh is three-tiered and highly subsidized. The government of Bangladesh operates many schools in the primary, secondary, and higher secondary levels. It also subsidizes parts of the funding for many private schools. In the tertiary education sector, the government also funds more than 15 state universities through the University Grants Commission.

Bangladesh conforms fully to the UN's Education For All (EFA) objectives[3] and the Millennium Development Goals (MDG)[4] as well as other education-related international declarations. Article 17 of the Bangladesh Constitution provides that all children receive free and compulsory education.[5]-

Education system

A Bangladesh education system chart

The three main educational systems in Bangladesh, ordered by decreasing student attendance numbers, are:

Other systems include a Professional Education System.

Each of these three main systems is divided into three levels:

Tertiary education in Bangladesh takes place at 37 government, 80 private and 3 international universities. Students can choose to further their studies in Chartered Accountancy, engineering, technology, agriculture and medicine at a variety of universities and colleges.

At all levels of schooling, students can choose to receive their education in English or Bangla. Private schools tend to make use of English-based study media while government-sponsored schools use Bangla.

Cadets in a classroom

Cadet Colleges are important in the education system of Bangladesh. A cadet college is a room and board collegiate administered by the Bangladesh. Military discipline is compulsory at all cadet colleges. Faujdarhat Cadet College is the first cadet college in Bangladesh, established in 1958 over an area of 185 acres (0.75 km2) at Faujdarhat in the district of Chittagong. At present there are 12 cadet colleges in Bangladesh, including 3 cadet colleges for girls.

The Madrasah Education System focuses on religious education, teaching all the basics of education in a religious environment. Religious studies are taught in Arabic and the students in some areas also serve the local area masjids. Students also have to complete all the courses from the General Education System. Many privately licensed Madrasas take in homeless children and provide them with food, shelter and education, e.g. Jamia Tawakkulia Renga Madrasah in Sylhet.

The Technical and Vocational Education System provides courses related to various applied and practical areas of science, technology and engineering, or focuses on a specific specialized area. Course duration ranges from one month to four years.

Tertiary education in Madrasah Education System

In the Madrasah Education System there are two systems. One, called the "Quomi" Madrasah system is privately owned and funded[7] and is run according to the Deobandi system of Islamic education, which rejects the rational sciences.[8] The other, called the "Alia" madrasah system, is privately owned but subsidized by the government (the government spends 11.5% of its education budget on alia madrasahs, paying 80% of teacher and administrator salaries).[7] Quomi madrasahs account for 1.9% of total primary enrollment and 2.2% of secondary enrollment; aliyah madrasahs account for 8.4% of primary and 19% of secondary enrollment.[9]

The alia system is like the general education system, except that Arabic is taught in addition to general education. After passing 'Alim' (12th Grade), a student can enroll for 3 additional years in order to obtain a 'Fazil' level (14th Grade. Students can go for further general education and earn a university degree. After passing successfully, they can further enroll for another 2 years to obtain a 'Kamil' level (16th Grade) degree.

The following table provides a statistical comparison of the "Quomi" and "Alia" madrasah systems.[10]

Profile of madrassa education in Bangladesh
Number of private (Quomi) madrassas 6,500
Number of government-funded (Alia) madrassa 6,906
Number of teachers in Quomi madrassas 130,000
Number of teachers in Alia madrassas 100,732
Number of students in Quomi madrassas 1,462,500
Number of students in Alia madrassas 1,878,300
Total number of madrassas (Quomi + Alia) 13,406
Total number of teachers (Quomi + Alia) 230,732
Total number of students (Quomi + Alia) 3,340,800

Tertiary education in Technical Education System

In the Technical Education System, after obtaining a Diploma-in-Engineering degree (four year curriculum) from the institutes listed below, students can further pursue their educational career by obtaining a bachelor's degree from Engineering & Technology Universities. It normally it takes an additional two and a half to three years of coursework to obtain a bachelor's degree, although some students take more than three years to do so. They can then enroll in post-graduate studies. Students can also study CA (Chartered Accounting) after passing HSC or bachelor's degree and subject to fulfilling the entry criteria of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Bangladesh (ICAB).

A view of the Sylhet Polytechnic Institute campus

Educational management

The overall responsibility of management of primary education lies with the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education (MOPME), set up as a Ministry in 1992. While MOPME is involved in formulation of policies, the responsibility of implementation rests with the Directorate of Primary Education (DPE) headed by a Director General.

The Directorate of Primary Education (DPE) and its subordinate offices in the district and upazila are solely responsible for management and supervision of primary education. Their responsibilities include recruitment, posting, and transfer of teachers and other staff; arranging in-service training of teachers; distribution of free textbooks; and supervision of schools. The responsibility of school construction, repair and supply of school furniture lies with the DPE executed through the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED). The National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB) is responsible for the development of curriculum and production of textbooks. While the Ministry of Education (MOE) is responsible for formulation of policies, the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education (DSHE) under the Ministry of Education is responsible for implementing the same at secondary and higher education levels. The NCTB is responsible for developing curriculum and publishing standard textbooks.

Primary and secondary level management

The primary level of education is managed by the Directorate of Primary Education (DPE) while the secondary level of education is controlled by the seven General Education boards. Dhaka Board, Comilla Board, Chittagong Board, Sylhet Board, Rajshahi Board,Technical Board and Madrasah each covering a region.The boards' headquarters are located in Barishal, Comilla Chittagong, Dhaka, Dinajpur Jessore, Rajshahi and Sylhet . In addition, the Madrasah Education Board covers religious education in government-registered Madrasahs, and the Technical Education Board controls technical and vocational training in the secondary level.

Eight region-based Boards of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISE) are responsible for conducting the four public examinations, Primary School Certificate (also Primary Education Completion Examination) (PEC), Junior School Certificate (JSC), Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSC), in addition to granting recognition to non-government secondary schools.

At the school level, in the case of non-government secondary schools, School Management Committees (SMC), and at the intermediate college level, in the case of non-government colleges, Governing Bodies (GB), formed as per government directives, are responsible for mobilizing resources, approving budgets, controlling expenditures, and appointing and disciplining staff. While teachers of non-government secondary schools are recruited by concerned SMCs observing relevant government rules, teachers of government secondary schools are recruited centrally by the DSHE through a competitive examination.

In government secondary schools, there is not an SMC. The headmaster is solely responsible for running the school and is supervised by the deputy director of the respective zone. Parent Teachers Associations (PTAs), however, exist to ensure a better teaching and learning environment.

Tertiary education management

Further information: Universities in Bangladesh
Entrance of, Islamic University of Technology(IUT). IUT is the only international university, powered by OIC providing engineering education in Bangladesh
Civil Engineering department of BUET. BUET is regarded as one of the best universities for engineering education in Bangladesh
Academic Building D, SUST. SUST is one of the largest science and technology universities in Bangladesh
Administrative building, Patuakhali Science and Technology University

At the tertiary level, universities are regulated by the University Grants Commission. The colleges providing tertiary education are under the National University. Each of the medical colleges is affiliated with a public university. Universities in Bangladesh are autonomous bodies administered by statutory bodies such as Syndicate, Senate, Academic Council, etc. in accordance with provisions laid down in their respective acts.[11][12]

Technical and Vocational education management

The Directorate of Technical Education (DTE) is responsible for the planning, development, and implementation of technical and vocational education in the country. Curriculum is implemented by BTEB.

There are also a number of private universities in Bangladesh.

English language education in Bangladesh

A vast number of schools in Bangladesh are English Medium schools. English Medium schools are mainly private schools where all the courses are taught in English except one Bengali Language subject at ordinary level (O Level). These schools in Bangladesh follow the General Certificate of Education (GCE) syllabus where students are prepared for taking their Ordinary Level (O Level) and Advanced Level (A Level) examinations. The General Certificate of Education system is one of the most internationally recognized qualifications, based in the United Kingdom. The Ordinary and Advanced Level examinations are English equivalent to the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSC) examinations respectively. Most students sit for these exams from the registered schools in Bangladesh who follow the GCE syllabus. Those who do not attend a school that follows the GCE syllabus may also sit for their Ordinary and Advanced Level examinations from the British Council. These examinations are conducted under the supervision of the British Council in Bangladesh. The GCE examination conducted by the British Council takes place twice a year. Currently there are two boards operating from Bangladesh for Ordinary and Advanced Level Examinations, which are Edexcel and University of Cambridge International Examinations.[13]

Non-formal primary education

There exists a substantial number of NGO-run non-formal schools, catering mainly to the drop-outs of the government and non-government primary schools. Very few NGOs, however, impart education for the full five-year primary education cycle. Because of this, on completion of their two-to three-year non-formal primary education in NGO-run schools, students normally re-enter into government/non-government primary schools at higher classes.

There are Non-Governmental Schools (NGO) and Non-Formal Education Centers (NFE) and many of these are funded by the government. The largest NFE program is the much reputed BRAC program. However, all NFE graduates do not continue on to secondary school.

NGO-run schools differ from other non-government private schools. While the private schools operate like private enterprises often guided by commercial interests, NGO schools operate mainly in areas not served either by the government or private schools, essentially to meet the educational needs of vulnerable groups in the society. They usually follow an informal approach to suit the special needs of children from these vulnerable groups. But nowadays, some NGO schools are operating into places where there are both private and government schools.

Similarly, in NGO-run schools there does not exist any SMC. The style of management differs depending upon differences in policies pursued by different NGOs. Some are centrally managed within a highly bureaucratic set-up, while others enjoy considerable autonomy.

Different NGOs pursue different policies regarding recruitment of teachers. Some prepare a panel of prospective teachers on the basis of a rigorous test and recruit teachers from this panel. Other NGOs recruit teachers rather informally from locally available interested persons.

Current status

Girls studying at the Unique Child Learning Center in Mirpur-Dhaka

Current government projects to promote the education of children in Bangladesh include compulsory primary education for all, free education for girls up to grade 10, stipends for female students, a nationwide integrated education system and a food-for-education literacy movement. A large section of the country’s national budget is set aside to help put these programs into action and to promote education and make it more accessible. Recent years have seen these efforts pay off and the Bangladesh education system is strides ahead of what it was only a few years ago. Now even national curriculum books from class 5 to class 12 are distributed freely among all students and schools. Bangladesh is now trying to establish remote and digital classes through internet conferences.


The educational system of Bangladesh faces several problems. In the past, Bangladesh education was primarily a British modeled upper class affair with all courses given in English and very little being done for the common people. The Bangladesh education board has taken steps to leave such practices in the past and is looking forward to education as a way to provide a poverty-stricken nation with a brighter future. Bangladesh has one of the lowest literacy rates in South Asia. One study found a 15.5% primary school teacher absence rate.[14]

The low performance in primary education is also matter of concern. School drop-out rates and grade repetition rates are high.[15] Poor school attendance and low contact time in school are factors contributing to low level of learning achievement. Further, the system lacks a sound Human Resource Development and deployment system[16] and this has demoralized the primary education sector personnel, including teachers, and contributes to poor performance. Poverty is a big threat to primary education.

In Bangladesh, the population is very high. The number of seats available in colleges is less than the number of students who want to enroll, and the number of seats available in universities is also less than the number of students who passed higher secondary level and want to join in a university. Besides, the cost of education is increasing day by day, as a result many students are unable to afford it.


As Bangladesh is an overpopulated country, there is a huge demand to turn its population into labor, which is why proper education is needed and proper help in the educational sectors of Bangladesh from the government are crucial.

See also


  1. Bin Habib, Wasim and Adhikary, Tuhin Shubhra (31 May 2016). Education budget in Bangladesh too inadequate.
  2. World Factbook: Literacy. (Note: 15+ Factbook figures are estimated. For actual figures of 2011, see ADULT AND YOUTH LITERACY: National, regional and global trends, 1985-2015. UIS Information Paper. June 2013. Page 35).
  3. Bangladesh: Education for All 2015 National Review. Ministry of Primary and Mass Education, Government of Bangladesh.
  4. Millennium Development Goals: BANGLADESH Progress Report 2015. General Economics Division (GED), Bangladesh Plannning Commission.
  5. "THE CONSTITUTION OF THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF BANGLADESH: Article 17 (Free and compulsory education)".
  6. "Primary education now up to class VIII". The Daily Star. 2016-05-18. Retrieved 2016-09-12.
  7. 1 2 Ahmad, Mumtaz (2007). "Islam, state, and society in Bangladesh". In Esposito, John; Voll, John; Bakar, Osman. Asian Islam in the 21st Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 56. ISBN 978-0-19-804421-5.
  8. Tan, Charlene, ed. (2014). Reforms in Islamic Education: International Perspectives. New York: Bloomsbury Academic. p. 91. ISBN 9781441101341.
  9. Alam, Mahmadul; A.T.M Shaifullah Mehedi; Nehraz Mahmud (2013). "Religious education in Bangladesh". In Davis, Derek; Miroshnikova, Elena. The Routledge International Handbook of Religious Education. New York: Routledge. pp. 48–49. ISBN 978-1-136-25641-7.
  10. Ahmad, Mumtaz (2004)."Madrassa Education in Pakistan and Bangladesh". In Limaye, Satu P.; Wirsing, Robert C.; Malik, Mohan (eds). Religious radicalism and security in South Asia. Honolulu: Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies. page 107.
  11. "Private University - Banglapedia". Retrieved 2016-09-16.
  12. "University Grants Commission - Banglapedia". Retrieved 2016-09-16.
  13. "O level - GCE - Exams - British Council - Bangladesh". British Council. Archived from the original on 2008-02-02. Retrieved 2016-09-12.
  14. "Roll Call: Teacher Absence in Bangladesh" (PDF). Site 2004. Retrieved 2013-10-25.
  15. "Country Profiles: Bangladesh". UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Retrieved 2016-09-12.
  16. Sedere, Upali M. (2000). "Institutional Capacity Building Through Human Resource Development". Directorate of Primary Education/PEDPQI Project of NORAD, Bangladesh.

Further reading

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