Good news shows how progress can been made.

These smiling faces indicate the educational progress being made in Bangladesh

These smiling faces indicate the educational progress being made in Bangladesh

 

Let’s report a positive story about children and education today.

In Bangladesh, the world’s most densely populated state, which spreads wide around the Ganga-Brahmaputra delta, an initiative from the World Bank, working with NGOs, including Save the Children has had a significant impact upon the educational opportunities of children. This project, known as the Third Primary Education Development Program (PEDPIII) was established with a specific aim of increasing participation and the number of children completing primary education, and improving the learning environment and resources available in schools across the country.

The World Bank has been supporting development and investing in education in Bangladesh since 1972, and their commitment has enabled a significant reduction in poverty levels, providing educational opportunities for many children. In particular a focus on the education of girls, has had a dramatic impact upon female literacy in the country. This initiative has similarly ensured that many children from the poorest sections of society have entered school, a significant number of them as first generation learners.

A recognition that the pre-school years are a critical time for learning has been an important factor in improving educational opportunities for children in Bangladesh. A year of publicly-funded pre-primary education has been provided for children who attend the country’s state funded schools, and has been seen to instil enthusiasm for learning that is being maintained into the primary school years.

The Work to improve education has not ceased with provision for the younger children. A project managed through the Bangladesh Female Secondary School Assistance Programme, has increased girl’s enrolment in secondary schools to 4 million in 2006 from 1.1 million in 1991.

The improvements in educational opportunities provided in Bangladesh have been achieved because of a number of factors. Firstly, a commitment from National and regional government and a recognition that education is critical to achieving a well trained workforce for a competitive future. Secondly, the financial support and investment provided by the World Bank. However, of equal importance has been the expertise of professionals, including teachers both from local communities and working through NGOs. Such collaborations, when clearly focused can have a dramatic impact on the improvement of children’s lives.

Bangladesh is in many respects an educational success story, though there remains much to be achieved and little room for complacency. UNICEF have identified particular challenges in respect of meeting the needs of children with disabilities or learning difficulties. Inclusive schooling remains elusive, though there are examples of good practice emerging. Teacher training is a critical factor in improving this situation and a number of recent initiatives are providing hope that the concept of education for all could become a reality.

The negative influence of poverty on educational opportunity is well known. Bangladesh remains a poor country with many socio-economic challenges. However, it does appear that models of working within this country might provide useful indicators of how others in similar situations can work towards the provision of a more equitable education system.

8 thoughts on “Good news shows how progress can been made.

  1. Hi Richard, In the spirit of positivity, I’d also like to share a link to this project, which I am sure you already know about, but thought I would share it on your blog – an example of yet another initiative that is being taken to address the lack of educational opportunities for those from challenging socio-economic areas. These floating school projects tackle the issue of accessibility of education for those living in remote Bangladeshi villages:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/01/world/asia/floating-schools-in-bangladesh.html?_r=1&

    • Thanks Saneeya,
      I wasn’t aware of this interesting initiative, but will certainly find out more. Thanks for the learning opportunity.

  2. I know I have said it before, but innovative approaches to schooling such as the one that Saneeya identified seem to offer solutions that perhaps those of us not from the country can recognise. In my reacher training we were constantly admonished to, ‘start from the point of the learner’s interest.’ This is not an easy task in today’s UK curriculum testing based system. It seems that the women in the article Saneeya provided would be more likely to improve their literacy skills in a bid to improve their lives through understanding ways to increase their crop yields, as would starting with the boys checking cricket scores be a potentially effective place for developing their numeracy skills.
    A friend of mine taught for The School of the Air in Western Australia which provides distance learning via computer links for children living in remote communities. She was brought to the reality of one of her students who constantly missed his allotted time slot. She made suggestions such as setting his alarm clock or alarm on his watch to remind him to be at his computer. He enlightened her that there were no timepieces where he lived and he had no need to tell the time. Different realities require more lateral thinking.

    • Carmel, thank you too, for sharing information about ‘Schools of the Air’ I just had to google them, as I had not heard about them before. It led me to a thought-provoking article by E. Imamura, titled ‘Conventional and nonconventional schooling: a comparison of pupil performance in rural schools and schools of the air’ (Perth: University of Western Australia. 1987) which posits that non-conventional methods of schooling such as Schools of the Air, in some cases, lead to even more superior student performances than the more conventional methods. Unfortunately, I cannot seem to locate any research articles with regard to other non-traditional academic modes of education, such as the floating schools; a possible research project in the making, perhaps?! 🙂

    • A very interesting posting Carmel. I recall many years ago hearing radio documentary about children on a remote sheep station in Australia who had all their lessons on air. I remember wondering at the time, how well the teachers knew the circumstances of their pupils. It is interesting in an e-age when many feel that digital technology may allow for more distant learning that there are so many considerations that could be taken on the basis of these earlier experiences.

  3. My friend has related many instances of where they literally took to the air. At last once a term they visit their pupils, flying into remote communities and meeting their pupils to ensure that students and teachers know what they look like and get to spend some time together.
    Wherever possible the students go to a regional hub (in many instances this may require hours of driving) so that young people who are in the same ‘class’ meet face to face.
    In recent years the service has included pupils who have been permanently excluded from mainstream schools.
    Maybe post doc Saneeya and I can research into these alternative forms of education.

    • What an excellent idea. We tend to ignore alternative approaches to education, yet I am sure there is much we could learn from them. The geographical features are just one aspect of this. On my only visit to Australia I recall how long it took people to travel from within the single state of Western Australia to Perth for a conference – the geography of such a vast land inevitably impacts on many aspects of life – including education. We should also not ignore other influences – poverty or culture for instance. These too have led to particular approaches to schooling. I wish you both well as you explore these interesting phenomena.

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