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15 December, 2016 00:00 00 AM

Reasons behind primary school dropout in Bangladesh

If the country wants to increase the education level among its population, then effective polices need to designed and implemented to reduce the primary school dropout rate
Karin Paulina Rozario
Reasons behind primary school 
dropout in Bangladesh

Increasing the public literacy level is an important goal for the growth of any country in the world. However, a developing country like Bangladesh usually faces several challenges in achieving that goal. One such challenge is the high rate of primary school dropout.Primary school dropout is when a child enrolls in school but fails to complete the minimum expected amount of schooling of the education cycle. Primary school dropouts belong to the population that is considered illiterate from educational perspective. Hence, it is imperative to identify the key reasons behind primary school dropouts and resolve them accordingly in order to increase the literacy rate among adolescent, and overall population.

In the context of Bangladesh’s socio-economical structure, primary school dropout can be defined as children failing to reach the education level of grade five. Children across globe are starting primary school in greater numbers than ever before. In Bangladesh, the entry to grade one has reached near the universal levels, however, the primary school completion rate has remained around 60 per cent since 2000 (Government of Bangladesh, 2009; World Bank, 2009). Some key reasons behind the primary school dropout in Bangladesh are mentioned below:
1. Poor Physical Condition
Physical condition can be defined as a state of well-being when all internal and external body parts, organs, tissues and cells can function properly as they are supposed to function.Good physical condition means that, for example, our ears can normally hear, our eyes have normal vision, our legs can walk, jump, run, and perform many other normal activities without problems. If a child cannot possesses good health he will face barrier to earn good education. Some  factorssuch as poor health, under-nutrition or lack of motivation to learn contribute to child drop out. Disabilities are another important factor that may contribute to drop out. A major issue with disability is that many children in low income countries who suffer from a physical or psychological impediment are denied access to education. When disabled children do have access to education, their chances of completion of a full cycle are severely limited due to the unavailability of resources, specially trained teachers and clear school policy guidelines regarding disabled children. In Bangladesh, for example, children with disabilities are less likely to start school and if they do, their overall school attainment and possibilities for transition into lower secondary schooling remain very low. Some researchers claim that disabled children were more likely to drop out relative to other children in Bangladesh.
2. Biased Social Practice
 Early marriage, child slavery, child fostering, trafficking, and multiple household duties for girls are some of the reasons behind the higher likelihood that girls leave the educational system before boys in societies where girls’ rights are not secured and where social norms undervalue girls’ education . 
3.Lack of Quality in Education
School level factors also play a role in increasing pressures to drop out such as teacher absenteeism, school location and poor quality educational provision .Grade repetition and drop out thus remain substantial problems. Inequality is a part of the social structure. socio-cultural norms, religious matter, lack of parental education and less expectation for girls’ education create inequality in primary education. People belonging to the lower class of the society are not allowed to be associated with the upper class in any way. There has been no strong motivation policy to address the matter of literacy towards lower castes.  
4. Economic Hardship 
Still one-third (31.5 percent) of the population of Bangladesh is living under the poverty line. Recent price hike of essential commodities (especially, food prices) makes it difficult to maintain their livelihood. People (especially poor) spend a large part of their expenditure on food and cut off expenditure from other basic necessities like education for their children. Price hike of essential commodities during current regime has defeated all records. General peoples are spending 80 percent of their income on food and savings are falling . So both male and female children of poor households are forced to various income generating activities and popularly known as “child labor”. About 22.9 percent of the country’s total child workers are forced into different hazardous jobs to earn for the family and their family (BBS, 2006) sends 66.8 percent child workers to these hazardous jobs. Additionally rural female children engagement on garments sector is an indicating factor for increasing female enrollment. After getting primary education, female migrate to urban areas within some days to engage garments industry to run their family. About 80 percent of the industry’s three millions workers are women . Under these circumstances, poor people might take education as an additional burden.
5.Geographic Isolation 
The administration of Bangladesh is divided into eight major Divisions and each divisions consists of several districts. All there districts are not equally facilitated  for primary education. Primary enrolment rate in Sylhet Division is much lower (64.16 percent for poor and 82.08 percent for non-poor) compared to the other Divisions. Economic deprivation, social inequalities, geographical isolation, unequal income distribution create unequal primary education in this area although the economic situation is better than the other Divisions of the country. Shunamgonj’s haor area is the most deprived area where students have to suffer much in dry season. The sufferings become acute in rainy season. 
6.Opportunity Cost of Going to School 
The opportunity cost of schooling is the income forgone of the next best activity available for children who are in education. These activities relate to child labor or caring responsibilities bothwithin and outside of the household. The opportunity cost for children who are in schooling often increases as they get older, which increases the pressure on them to withdraw from school.
7.Parental Education and Net Enrolment Ratio 
There is a positive correlation between net enrolment and parental education. The proportion of never schooled parents decreased over time - from 47.7per cent in 1998 to 45.4per cent in 2000, 35.4per cent in 2005 and 33.3per cent in 2008. The net enrolment rate increased for the children of both never and ever schooled parents during 1998-2005, which became stagnant in 2008 for both the groups (Education Watch Report, 2008). If the parents remain unaware, the progress in the child education would remain elusive. 
Some other Studies from Bangladesh suggest that when there is lack of parental interest and engagement with schooling it is often the case that parents lack the ability to understand school related work; so parents are unable to support their children (Ahmed et al., 2005). Therefore parental education is important to support children’s schooling. To absenteeism, grade repetition and drop out. Parents who are interested on pedagogical matters and who discuss these with teachers are more likely to boost the chances of school success fortheir children.
8. Uncontrolled Population Growth and Unequal Access to Education 
Over population is also a vital barrier for the achievement of the expected progress in primary education. For example, in Barisal division, the average annual growth rate of population was 0.9 percent (1991-2001) which has been decreased to 0 percent during 2001-2011. This might be responsible for the higher school enrolment in Barisal division (91.04 percent). On the other hand, in Sylhet division, the average annual growth rate of population has increased into 2.1 percent (2001-2011) from 1.6 percent (1991-2001) (BBS, 2010), where the school enrolment is lower (73.12 percent).
All of the aforementioned reasons are currently contributing to the lower literacy rate in Bangladesh. If the country wants to increase the education level among its population, then effective polices need to designed and implemented to reduce the primary school dropout rate. The continuous development of Bangladesh will never be fully achieved without resolving the crippling issues like primary school dropout.

The writer is Lecturer, Department of Business Administration  Notre Dame University Bangladesh


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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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