Over the past decade, Bangladesh has made remarkable progress in expanding access to education. With 98 percent of children of primary school age enrolled in school, the country has achieved near universal primary enrollment as well as gender parity in equal access to education. Despite these advances in access, the quality of education remains a challenge, and many children in Bangladesh are not acquiring the foundational skills they need for continued learning. This is particularly true for marginalized groups. Children in crisis-affected areas – including those in host communities impacted by the Rohingya crisis – and children with disabilities are underrepresented and underreported in Bangladesh’s education system. USAID supports the Government of Bangladesh (GOB) at the pre-primary, primary and higher secondary education levels and strengthens development opportunities for youth who are not in education, employment or training.
Reaching Marginalized Children with Quality Education
USAID programs target children living in crisis-affected, marginalized and vulnerable communities with a special focus on girls and children with disabilities. USAID works to build awareness and sensitize communities and schools on ensuring all children’s access to quality education, while strengthening the skills of district education officials, teachers, and school communities to deliver quality education.
Educating Children Beyond the Classroom
In 2005, USAID established Sisimpur, the Bangladesh version of the popular Sesame Street children’s educational TV program. USAID continues to support Sisimpur to produce and air episodes on national TV, providing millions of children across the country with high-quality educational content.
Empowering Youth and Promoting Peace
USAID youth activities build skills and empower out-of-school youth to increase their employability, enabling them to contribute to the economic growth of Bangladesh. Programs also prioritize gender equity and reaching out-of-school youth from marginalized populations, and hard-to-reach areas. USAID education programs also aim to strengthen Bangladeshi youth’s resilience against violent extremism and anti-democratic values.
Overcoming COVID-19 Challenges
The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the challenges already facing Bangladesh’s education system. During the height of the pandemic, the GOB focused on ensuring schools implemented COVID-19 safety measures so children, especially those in marginalized communities, could safely return to schools. Schools reopened on September 12, 2021, after 18 months of closure. USAID partnered with UNICEF to support the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics to measure pandemic learning loss. While the assessment revealed a drop in students’ foundational numerical skills and reconfirmed previously reported poor reading abilities, it also explored potential interventions to address the needs of students after this prolonged absence from classrooms.
- USAID has helped bring 15 consecutive seasons of Sisimpur, Bangladesh’s version of Sesame Street, to millions of Bangladeshi children. In season 15, Sisimpur will introduce viewers to Julia, a four-year-old Muppet who has autism to help promote diversity, equity, and inclusion both in the classroom and in communities.
- In 2022, USAID continued to improve education for children in remote locations across the country through establishing 250 parent-teacher learning forums, distributing learning materials, and establishing 100 classroom-based libraries.
- To align with the Government of Bangladesh’s goal to empower the country’s young people, USAID and other foundations have helped to augment the government’s youth services, including providing vocational skills training.