School and Education in Bangladesh

The Constitution of Bangladesh states that there is free and compulsory elementary school for five years for children between six and eleven years. The language of instruction is Bengali, from the third class it is taught in English.

The high school lasts up to seven years and is divided into three stages. There are nine public universities. Next to the public school system is a private, religious education system (the Madrasha system).

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In 1999, an estimated 72% of children of primary school age attended school, while approx. 19% of the relevant age group started in high school and 4% in higher education.

In 1999, 62% of the adult population over the age of 15 was estimated to be illiterate, 53% of men and 78% of women.

Bangladesh Country Flag

Bangladesh flag source:

The situation of women

The rural population remains dominant in Bangladesh. About 80% of the population is employed in agriculture or related activities, contributing almost half of the gross domestic product, while the industry accounts for 10%. At the same time, women’s participation in the labor market is very low. Only 7% of the paid workforce is women. The woman’s social situation is critical. According to the constitution that has an Islamic basis, the woman can inherit only half of what the man can, and in fact, the inheritance goes directly to her husband or her dowry. The Bengali feminists complain that women are treated as objects and not as human beings. In childhood, they belong to their father when they get married – and most will be at the age of 13 – they belong to the husband and as old they belong to their children. The official statistics do not consider the work they do at home or in the field as actual work. Low female productivity is due to poor nutrition and often causes separation. The right to divorce is a male privilege and is a formality under Islamic law. The majority of women also suffer from intestinal disorders as a result of the long intervals between meals. They must only eat when the rest of the family has eaten.

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Bangladesh was admitted to the UN in 1974 after two previous attempts that had been prevented by China. The country is also a member of the Alliance Free Movement and the International Islamic Conference. In recent years, a gradual Islamization of political life has been carried out. A constitutional change in 1989 made Islam a state religion. A move that the worldly movements in the country opposed. Relations with India have been somewhat more tense in recent years due to disagreement over the border demarcation and utilization of water resources.

In 1991, General Ershad was replaced and during the election campaign the Awamiliga and the GDP came to face each other. Both parties positioned women as candidates for the Prime Minister’s post. Both are widows for the party’s historical leaders. At the March 2 election, GDP gained the most votes and Begun Kaleda Zia thus became prime minister. She stated that she wanted to work for a parliamentary form of government and thus tried to remove the Awamiliga’s primary demand for respect for parliament. Five months after the election, Parliament, with the backing of both major parties, decided that the presidency should be subordinated to Parliament.

The reform was passed in August in a tense climate, as then-incumbent President Shabhabuddin Ahmed threatened to resign if the governance changed. Ex-President Ershad was on bail until April and was to take his seat in the new parliament, but he was sentenced to 10 years in prison by Judge Mohamed Habibullah for possession of illegal weapons and for possessing wealth that exceeded his income. The verdict was based on both the exception law and the constitution and deprived Ershad of his place in parliament.