Bangladesh conforms fully to the Education for All (EFA) objectives, the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) and international declarations.
Education Sector in Bangladesh
With over 143 million people, Bangladesh is the eighth largest in the world in population. It is
also one of the most densely populated countries and endowed with limited natural resources.
Bangladesh has to rely, more than most developing countries, on its human resources for
progress and prosperity. The total size of the student population in Bangladesh is around 29
million which is about 20% of the total population (143 million).
The Peoples Republic of Bangladesh covers an area of approximately 144 000 km2 and its
geographical location is to the east of India.
The Awami League (AL) led Grand Alliance won a free, fair and a neutrally conducted election
on 29 December 2008. The Awami League under the Leadership of Sheikh Hasina has formed
the new government as she took oath as the Prime Minister for second time with 23 ministers
and eight state ministers in her 31-member council of ministers on 6 January 2009.
The economy has grown by 5-6% per year since 1996 despite political instability, poor
infrastructure, corruption, insufficient power supplies and slow implementation of economic
reforms. Although more than half of GDP is generated through the service sector, nearly two-
thirds of Bangladeshis are employed in the agriculture sector, with rice as the single-most-
important product. Bangladesh's growth was resilient during 2008-09 despite the global financial
crisis and recession. Garment exports, totalling $18.9 billion in FY11 and remittances from
overseas Bangladeshis totalling $11.6 billion in FY11 accounted for almost % of GDP.
ξ Total Area: 147,570sq km
ξ Population: 143m
ξ Net Birth rate (Per 1000 Population): 19.4Population growth rate: 1.34 %
ξ GDP Per Capita: $755 (2011).
ξ GDP: US$ 111.75 billion
ξ GDP Growth: 6.66% (2011)
ξ Inflation: 9.93% (April 2012),
ξ Foreign exchange reserves: US$ 10.3billion
ξ Financial Year: July- June
International cooperation in educational development is needed in following areas:
ξ A sector-wide review, collaboratively with government and other national stakeholders,
can be undertaken with the intent of identifying gaps and mismatches and their remedies in
policies, strategies and programs, especially in relation to equity, efficiency and quality in
the education and skill system.
ξ Support can be provided to piloting models of effective decentralization in a few districts
in Bangladesh in the sub-sectors of primary, secondary, and general non-forma/vocational
education through establishing district education authorities and effective functioning of
upazila and school level planning and management.
ξ Professional and institutional capacity building can be supported with the development and
creating a system and institutions for training and deploying a cadre of professional
managers, especially in primary, secondary and non-formal education.
ξ IT education, middle-level skill development at the post-primary stage and for secondary
level students is a promising area. A related area is systematic and extensive use of IT for
education quality improvement at different levels.
ξ Capacity development in and support for research linked with development,
implementation and assessment of policy would be an important area of cooperation.
ξ Another neglected area is teacher education in which a systemic approach combining pre-
service, in-service and self-learning activities as well as creating necessary conditions and
incentives for putting teachers’ skills to best use in the classroom - is of vital importance.
There is a real capacity issue with a lack of skilled teaches for delivering vocational skills
training as well. Worth noting that many employers do not provide vocational training for
fear of staff being poached by other companies once trained.
ξ Some very good examples of vocational training centres provided by NGOs, eg UCEP and
Caritas. There are good opportunities for UK institutions to help establish vocational
training centres and modules as well.
ξ University and specialized institution-based formal programs can be complemented and
supplemented by other non-institutional forms of acquiring professional credentials call for
studies and a development program.
Some other opportunities for UK to collaborate might be seen as follows:
ξ Quality assurance- UK institutions could play a role in helping assist BD institutions
develop local capabilities.
ξ Faculty development e.g. teacher exchanges
ξ Joint degree programmes
ξ Student exchanges
ξ Online teaching
ξ Joint research programme.
Latest export opportunities – Education & Training
Latest export opportunities - Bangladesh
Getting into the market
For Bangladesh, the key to achieving high rates of economic growth and at the same time
ensuring that the fruits of economic growth are equitably shared by the population lies in
development and utilisation of human resources. Education therefore has been recognised as a
priority sector by all Governments since independence. Bangladesh conforms fully to the
Education for All (EFA) objectives, the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) and international
The education system in Bangladesh is characterised by co-existence of three separate streams.
The mainstream happens to be a vernacular based secular education system carried over from the
colonial past. There also exists a separate religious system of education. Finally, based on use of
English as the medium of instruction, another stream of education, modelled after the British
education system using the same curriculum, has rapidly grown in the metropolitan cities of
Structure of the Education System:
Education in Bangladesh has three major stages-primary, secondary and higher educations.
Primary education: The primary education system in Bangladesh is one of the largest
centralised authorities in the world. Over 17 million students are taught by around 400,000
teachers, in almost 79,000 schools. The 2010 UN Human Development Report placed
Bangladesh third of 178 countries in terms of education, health and inequality over the last 20
ξ Although education provision is still characterised by weak accountability and a politicised
and inefficient bureaucracy, progress is being made
ξ Enrolment has now reached almost 96 per cent (from 87.2% in 2005), with gender parity
(1% more girls in school).
ξ The number of out of school children has fallen considerably since 1998, which means an
additional 1.5 million children in school.
ξ But efficiency, quality and learning achievement remain low:
ξ Only around 60% of the children who enrol complete their primary education.
ξ As of 2008, only 63% and 69% of children achieved minimum numeracy and literacy
Secondary: High schools are managed either by government or private individuals or
organizations. Most of the privately managed secondary schools provide co-education. However,
there are many single sex institutions in secondary level education. The academic programme
terminates at the end of class X when students are to appear at the public examination called
S.S.C. (Secondary School Certificate). The Boards of Intermediate and Secondary Educations
(BISE) conduct the S.S.C. examination.
Higher Secondary: Higher secondary is followed by graduate level education in general,
technical, engineering, agriculture, business studies, and medical streams requiring 5-6 years to
obtain a Masters Degree. Higher education in the technical area also starts after higher secondary
level. Engineering, agriculture, business, medical and information & communication technology
are the major technical and technological education areas. In each of the courses of study, except
for medical education, a 5-year course of study is required for the first Degree.
Students of English Medium streams also sit for their respective public examinations O Level
(equivalent to secondary ) and ‘A’ level (Equivalent to higher secondary education), conducted
by Edexcel Pearson/ London/Cambridge University to qualify for further education.
Different Streams in Education:
Primary level education is provided under two major institutional arrangements (stream) -general
and Madrasha, while secondary education has three major streams: general, technical-vocational
and Madrasha. Higher education, likewise, has 3 streams: general (inclusive of pure and applied
science, arts, business and social science), Madrasha and technology education. Technology
education in its turn includes agriculture, engineering, medical, textile, leather technology and
ICT. Madrashas (Arabic for educational institution), functional parallel to the three major stages,
have similar core courses as in the general stream (primary, secondary and post-secondary) but
have additional emphasis on religious studies.
Vocational and Technical Education: Bangladesh will need to create at least 2.25 million jobs
per year to accommodate a near doubling of the labour force from its present size (World Bank).
Many existing institutions do not have adequate resources to provide education/training of proper
quality but it is often difficult to address this situation given that institutions have few incentives
to improve their performance. Government has put more emphasis on Vocational and technical
education in the new National Education Policy 2010 for not only meeting the local skill
requirement but also for the fact that overseas employment has become a significant source of
employment with migrant workers now numbering some 3 million. The jobs that these people
are required to do in SE Asia or the Middle East are more skilled than in the past – there is a
need to develop these required skills locally. Given this, improving the market relevance of
education, and specifically vocational education and training will require significant reforms.
The Government is the major financier of vocational education and training. The largest recipient
of VET funding is the Ministry of Education (MOE). Approx $20 million per annum allocated to
VET, managed by Directorate of Technical Education (DTE). The government has outlined an
ambitious reform agenda and a National Skill Development Council (NSDC) has been formed
but progress remains modest.
The VET systems in Bangladesh:
ξ The quality of the system seems low as evidenced by low capacity utilization (approx.
50%) and low pass rates (approx. 50%).
ξ From the labour demand perspective, employers expressed concern about the quality of
ξ Employment probabilities of graduates are very low, partly because of poor labour market
linkages reflected in a lack of employer participation in managing the system.
Vocational Education Institutes:
ξ Approx. 3,116+ Institutes (2008 data)
ξ 90% in the Private Sector (2,781)
ξ Male/Female Student ratio: 76:24
Education Statistics in Bangladesh:
ξ The total size of the student population is around 29 million which is about 20% of the
total population (143 million).
ξ The percentage of primary school going students is 55.95% (around 17 million)
ξ The percentage of secondary school going students is 25.5% (around 7.4 million)
ξ Among the total number of students the percentage of students going to public
colleges/universities/FE colleges in all streams is around 2.5% (around 720,000)
ξ Among the total number of students the percentage of students going to private
colleges/universities/FE colleges and other tuition providers in all streams is around 16%
(around 4.6 million)
ξ The Total number of students going overseas for studying each year is approximately
15,000 which is only 0.05 % of the total student population.
ξ Education System in Bangladesh is being managed and administered by two Ministries,
Ministry of Education (MOE) and Ministry of Primary and Mass Education Division in
association with the attached Departments and Directorates as well as a number of
Ministry of Education (MOE): This Ministry is concerned with policy formulation, planning,
monitoring, evaluation and execution of plans and programs related to post primary secondary
and higher education including technical and Madrasha education. The line directorates, such as
Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education and Directorate of Technical Education are
responsible for management and supervision of institutions under their respective control.
Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education (DSHE): This Directorate is headed by a
Director-General who is responsible for administration, management and control of post primary
secondary and higher education including Madrasha and other special types of education. It is
assisted by sub-ordinate Offices located at the division and district levels with project offices at
The Directorate of Technical Education (DTE): This Directorate is headed by a Director-
General and is responsible for the management and administration of technical & vocational
institutions like polytechnics, monotechnics and other similar types of institutes. It has
Inspectorate Offices at the Divisional Headquarters.
Bangladesh National Commission for UNESCO (BNCU): This organization functions as a
corporate body within the MOE. This is headed by the Minister of Education as Chairman and
the Education Secretary as the Secretary-General. The Commission consists of 69 members
constituted by eminent educationists and intellectuals interested in educational, scientific and
cultural fields of the country. The Secretariat of the Commission is normally headed by a
government official designated as Secretary.
In addition the following Staff Department & Professional Bodies of the MOE perform
specialized functions assigned to them:
ξ National Academy for Educational Management (NAEM): This Academy is the apex
training institution under the Ministry of Education (MoE) responsible for providing
foundation training to BCS (general education) cadre officers. It also provides in-service
training to senior educational administrators and teachers of the secondary and higher
secondary levels. This academy is headed by a Director General.
ξ National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB): This Board is an autonomous
organization under the MoE. It is responsible for the development of curriculum,
production and distribution of textbooks at primary, secondary and higher secondary
ξ Bangladesh Bureau of Educational Information and Statistics (BANBEIS): This
organization is responsible for collection, compilation and dissemination of educational
information and statistics at various levels and types of education. This organization is the
main organ of the MoE responsible for collection and publication of educational data and
statistics. It also functions as the Educational Management Information System (EMIS) of
the Ministry. It is also the National Coordinator of RINSACA (Regional Informatics for
South & Central Asia).
ξ Directorate of Inspection and Audit (DIA): This Directorate is headed by a Director and
is responsible for inspection and audit aimed at improving the standard of education of the
Non-governmental institutions at the secondary level.
Further-more, a number of autonomous bodies have a share in the administration of education.
ξ University Grants Commission (UGC): The University Grants Commission is
responsible for supervision of the public and private universities and allocation of
government grants to them.
ξ National University: This is a public affiliating university responsible for academic
control of all the affiliated colleges offering courses in Graduate level Pass, Honours and
Masters and for conducting Bachelor Degree and Masters Examinations.
ξ Education Boards: Seven Boards of Intermediate and Secondary Education are
responsible for conducting the public examinations such as Secondary School Certificate
and Higher Secondary Certificate level public examinations. The Boards are also
responsible for Non-government and private sector educational institutions.
ξ Madrasha Education Board: This Board is responsible for conducting public
examinations from Dakhil to Kamil levels. The Boards are also responsible for the
reorganisation of the Non-government Madrashas.
ξ Technical Education Board (TEB): This Board is entrusted with the task of conducting
certificate and diploma examinations in technical and vocational education.
ξ National Skill Development Council (NSDC): The government has established a
National Skill Development Council (NSDC), bringing together as many as 22 ministries
related to the issue of Skills Development. The Prime Minister is the chair of the NSDC
and the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Labour co-chair the Executive
Committee. In order to reinforce the link between learning and livelihood, the NSDC
collaborates with the Bangladesh Better Business Forum (BBBF), which represents the
ξ Non-Governmental Teachers' Registration & Certification Authority (NTRCA): The
NTRCA was created by the government with the objective of improving the teaching
quality of the non-government secondary, graduate and post graduate level teachers
excluding public and private universities.
ξ Ministry of Primary & Mass Education (MOPME): The Ministry of Primary and Mass
Education is responsible for policy formulation, planning, evaluation and execution of
plans and initiating legislative measures relating to primary and non-formal education.
Education in Bangladesh is basically state financed. Government allocations to the education
sector out of its revenue and development budgets primarily finance educational expenditure.
Total Budget for the year 2012/13 is £906.18 million among which revenue budget is £706.66
million and development budget is £199.52 Million. Given the low revenue/GDP ratio, the
Government however is heavily dependent on external sources for financing its development
budget. External aid finances more than 50% of Government development expenditure.
Development in the education sector has been strongly supported by the donor community.
Donors have given a high priority to primary education and increasing access for girls. Besides
EC countries, multilateral institutions like ADB, WB and UNICEF have helped fund and
redefine the orientation of the education sector programs. Cooperation with external
development partners will continue to be a key element of educational progress in Bangladesh.
The scale and diversity of the education system is striking with public, private institutions,
NGOs, faith based schools and community learning centres active in education.
So, looking at the Aid funded projects and some government project (very limited number) can
be an effective route into the Bangladesh Education market. Other Route to the market can be
using agent to source students or partnering with local education providers/universities/ FE
More about doing business in Bangladesh
Market intelligence is critical when doing business overseas, and UKTI can provide bespoke
market research and support during overseas visits though our chargeable Overseas Market
Introduction Service (OMIS).
To commission research or for general advice about the market, get in touch with our specialists
in country - or contact your local international trade team.
ξ Syeda Suraya Jahan, Deputy Director of Trade & Investment, British High Commission,
UN Road, Baridhara, Dhaka-1212 Tel: +88-02-8822705-9, Ext: 2267 Email:
Contact your local international trade team
Education UK Exhibition Bangladesh 2013
Venue: Dhaka, Chittagong
Bangladesh Education Fair 2013
Venue: Dhaka, TBC
Round Table Discussion on Education & Skill: Opportunities for UK to collaborate.
Venue: British High Commission, Dhaka
Date: TBC, sometime in 2012/13
UKTI runs a range of events for exporters, including seminars in the UK, trade missions to
overseas markets and support for attendance at overseas trade shows.
Latest events – Education & Training
Latest events – Bangladesh
More about OMIS and other UKTI services for exporters