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Published by: Icas Phils on Oct 27, 2012
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The available data shows a decline in total primary school enrolment from 2001 to
2005 afer which it picked up again though at a lower level than at the start of the new
Millennium. This is a result of a declining birth rate. Indications are that up to 2007 this
increase is primarily due to a major increase in enrolment at ebtedayee madrasahs and primary
sections of high madrasahs and doubling of enrolment at the country’s kindergartens. At the
same time, enrolment at schools supported under PEDP-II declined from 15.5 million to
13.7 million children; this decline was more pronounced at RNGPS. In terms of enrolment,
GPS continue to accommodate the largest share of total enrolment, though this declined
from 61% in 2001 to 57% in 2007. Enrolment at BRAC schools shows an increase of some 10%
between 2001 and 2009 and represented 5% of total recorded enrolment in primary educa-
tion in 2001 and over 6% in 2007.

Overall, the NER rose from 65% in 2000 to 74% in 2006 and 81% by 2009 while the GER
increased from 91% in 2000 to 92% in 2005 and 101% in 2006. The diference between NER
and GER indicates that many children are enrolled in primary school when they are older
than 6 years. The data indicates that the gap between GER and NER is closing: 34% of the
6 year old children were enrolled in primary school and 45% in 2008. Only some 20% of
the children completed primary education by the age of 10 in 2005, inducing a low net
enrolment ratio in lower secondary school. Delayed enrolment is a phenomenon primarily

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The two-pronged approach: Evaluation of Netherlands support to primary education in Bangladesh

| 155 |

among the poorest strata of society. It has repercussions in terms of higher opportunity
costs and higher chances of dropout, especially among girls. It also has implications for
teaching and learning approaches in the classroom.

Throughout the evaluation period, girls have slightly higher enrolment rates than boys and
GPS and RNGPS have reached gender-parity in enrolment since 2005. Though it is difcult
to single out the efects of any supply side interventions, beter enrolment fgures for girls
have been atributed to ‘afrmative action’ policies, more value atached to girls’ educa-
tion, lower opportunity costs of sending girls to school, poverty alleviation programmes
focusing on women and girls, as well as the introduction of the secondary school stipend
programme for girls. The issue of poor boys lagging behind in enrolment, atendance and
school completion is becoming a serious issue that warrants further investigation.

The gap in enrolment between urban and rural areas appears to be closing. Enrolment
in urban slums and among ethnic minorities nevertheless remains a key concern. At the
same time there has been some increase in recent years in the enrolment of children with
special needs The available data shows that in 2008, 14% of school-aged children were still
out of school, particularly among hard core poverty groups. The programmes of ILO, BRAC
and FIVDB supported by the Netherlands have catered for these groups. Though overall
diferences are small, non-formal schools (of e.g. BRAC) and ebtedayee madrasahs appear to
succeed in picking up relatively more poor children while GPS serve relatively more students
from higher quintiles.

School supply factors (school infrastructure, presence of teachers, in particular women)
have indeed played a role in enhanced enrolment. In addition to income, other household
related factors, such as parents’ education, father’s occupation, incidence of child labour,
etc. have infuenced enrolment as well. The Government has furthermore been spending
considerable resources on the primary school stipend programme. Opinions difer on the
successfulness of the stipend programme and further research into the efectiveness of this
programme is called for.

School atendance has improved between 2000 and 2008, especially at GPS and RNGSP.
It is still at a low level and below the levels reported for non-formal (including BRAC)
schools. The data are inconsistent as far as survival, drop-out and grade repetition rates are
concerned. Similar to enrolment, primary school atendance and atainment is infuenced
by household income, parents’ educational background and occupation, the child’s health
status and school-community relations.

The primary school completion rate is around 73%, but it is only reached around age 14.
Only a minority of children completes the 5 years of primary education at the expected age.
Completion rates vary according to income, with between 60% of children from the poorest
quintile just below 90% for the richest quintile, and gender, with girls doing beter than
boys. The rates in urban areas are slightly beter than those in rural areas.

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