The school system
Since Bangladesh, like Pakistan and India, was under British rule for many years, the school system is still based on the British school system from 1947. According to this system, children have to go to school for five years, and school does not cost anything. However, many students finish school without a degree. For example, the five-year elementary school should be followed by a three-year middle school, followed by a two-year course at a so-called “high school”. Those who successfully complete this school can study at a college or university.
Madrasas and private schools
As in other Muslim countries, there are also state and non-religious schools, so-called madrasas, which are Muslim religious schools. These schools are mainly attended by poorer children because they offer them food. That is why parents send their children to these schools too. The influence of religion is strong in such schools. There are also private schools, which mostly cost tuition and are reserved for wealthier people.
The sad reality
In fact, many children don’t even go to elementary school. And when they go there, things usually go no further for them. Especially the girls – if they finish primary school at all – do not go to any further school. This is why the illiteracy rate is higher among women than among men. Although girls who have attended primary school can usually at least read, many of the older women have not even attended school. The schools themselves are usually poorly equipped. There is a lack of rooms, books, learning materials and often more than 60 children sit in a class. The teachers are poorly trained and overwhelmed. Not only do schoolchildren fail to come to school, but teachers are also often absent. Classes are therefore only held irregularly.
School is not just school
The school system can therefore be divided into three areas: the state schools, which the children of poor people attend (if at all), the private schools, which only the children of the rich people can attend, and the religious schools.
In order to increase the proportion of girls, the state sometimes pays the monthly school fees from the 6th grade onwards. But many families simply cannot send all children to school, sometimes only the second or third child. The older children then have to help. And if there is not enough money, girls in Bangladesh always have to forego school and training.
The role of the woman
Even if there are still fewer girls than boys who go to school, something is moving in Bangladesh. Because the government has recognized that women are necessary for the country’s further development. Money is invested in education policy so that girls are given more support. There are quotas for the university and also for jobs. Yet there are still many more men than women working. It will be a while before something really changes. But more and more women are becoming employed and have also been able to become Prime Minister or opposition leader. Most of the workers in the textile industry are women. Nobody is surprised when you know how low the wages are here.
Many girls in Bangladesh, a country located in Asia according to timedictionary, are married off very young. Marriage is established by the parents and the opinion of the daughters is not required. Most of them then leave school and have to take care of the husband’s household. Some girls are only eleven years old when they are usually married to much older men. The law in Bangladesh forbids such child marriages, but they still exist, and not even rarely. The girls are often married so young because then the bridal money that they have to pay the husband and his family is lower. And the family has one less eater and such a marriage relieves the family budget.
Children often have to work twelve-hour shifts and are exposed to toxic fumes and chemicals without protection. They work six days a week and earn the equivalent of 1.50 euros per week. For example, the children work in a balloon factory. The children toil and suffer. They do not go to school and have no way of escaping their situation through education and a school leaving certificate.
Most of the time the children work like slaves and very often under dangerous conditions. This is also the case in steel companies, where they often do not earn more than one euro a week. But the parents or often single mothers are dependent on the money. So they send the children to the factories and not to school. According to a study by the children’s organization World Vision, 7.4 million children work in Bangladesh, half of whom have never seen the inside of a school.
There is compulsory schooling, which is also prescribed by law in Bangladesh. There are also laws that protect children and their rights. But often people are just so poor that there is no other way. According to a 2010 UNICEF study, 13 out of 100 children between the ages of five and 14 work. Most of them (62 out of 100) in agriculture, then 23 out of 100 in service and 14 out of 100 in factories. Children have to help with the tobacco harvest, but also with the creation of hand-rolled cigarettes. They work in blacksmiths, in quarries, in tanneries where leather is processed, but also in brickworks, furniture and match production and in the textile industry.