The government of Bangladesh and its people understand the value of an educated population. As such, over the last decade, many projects have been undertakes to educate the people of the nation. Yet, there still is a large gender gap in Bangladesh when it comes to education. Similar to many developing countries, women's education in Bangladesh lags far behind compared to that of men.
The fact that women are less educated than men is largely due to ancient tradition and common mentality. The reasons why women are seldom as well educated than men lie outside the education system. Ideas about the appropriate roles for women in the labor market or in society, about the biological unsuitability of women for science, and about the gender-based division of work in the household and on the farm influence decisions about schooling.
The school participation rate is defined as the percentage of individuals who have ever been in school. In Bangladesh, 58 percent of male attended school whereas only 41 percent of female attended school. However, the recent commitment of the government and non-government agencies to decrease the gap between genders is working very well. Today, for those under 20, about 64 percent of males and 57 percent of women have attended school. This is a 10 percent increase for men and a 39 percent increase for women. At the postsecondary level, the transition rate, from secondary school towards higher education, is generally higher among girls than among boys. In fact, at the country level, some 23 percent of females of all ages, who complete the secondary level, move on to the postsecondary level, compared with only 25 percent of males. The transition level gap for the younger generation is even wider where 28 percent of female go on to higher studies compared to merely nine percent of boys.
This tremendous improvement of female education is largely due to an organization called BRAC (Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee) which introduced its Non-Formal Primary Education Program (NFPE) in 1985. This program emphasized mainly on the education of girls in rural areas giving them the opportunity to attain higher levels of education by providing flexible learning hours and scholarships depending on educational performances. The program started with 22 experimental schools. Today, the number of schools surpasses 34,000, catering over 1.1 million students where 70 percent of them are girls. BRAC teachers are chosen among the most educated the village. Teachers must have at least nine years of schooling to be employed. Presently, 97 percent of all teachers are women. Each year, almost 90 per cent of the students who graduate from the BRAC schools go on to the formal schools in higher classes. Additionally, BRAC has also undertaken projects to provide villages with libraries and community centers. The organization offers all this to villagers with funds from foreign countries and by collecting minimal fees from the students to supply them with books and other materials.
BRAC's education program has earned an international reputation and its system of management and teaching methodologies are being replicated in a number of countries in Eastern and Southern Africa. In fact, UNICEF (United Nation's Children Education Fund) has adopted this model of education through out the world.
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