'Second Chance' Education for Children in Bangladesh
January 27, 2014
- In spite of progress in education, many school-aged children in Bangladesh either do not enroll or discontinue school due to poverty.
- The Reaching Out-of-School Children II (ROSC II) project aims to reduce the number of out-of-school children through quality primary education.
- The project is allowing disadvantaged children an opportunity to complete grade 5 and transition to secondary education.
Bangladesh has made significant progress in education over the past two decades. Still, many school-aged children from the poorest families in Bangladesh either do not enroll or discontinue school due to poverty. The Reaching Out- of- School Children II (ROSC II) project aims to reduce the number of out-of-school children through improved access, quality and efficiency in primary education, providing disadvantaged children an opportunity to complete grade 5 and transition to secondary education.
In 2004, nearly 1.5 million primary school-aged children were out of school in Bangladesh. The government’s program focused on the formal primary sector that supported about 17 million students and still many children were out of school. These were the children who had missed out schooling at the “right age” or had been forced to drop out, mainly because of poverty. Many could not afford to buy uniforms or books, to pay for transport if they lived far from the school or might have been needed to earn vital income to feed the family. As a consequence, these children were deprived of education which drastically reduced their chances of finding higher-earning jobs that could lift them and their families out of poverty.
ROSC II is built on the success of the first ROSC project that provided a second chance for primary education to nearly 780,000 poor children in 23,000 ROSC Learning Centers in 90 low-income upazillas. ROSC reintegrates out-of-school children into education through learning centers, called Ananda Schools (schools of joy), which provide education stipends to underprivileged children to lessen the burdens on their families as well as distribute free books, stationery and school uniforms. The Ananda Schools are established in upazilas with high poverty and low enrolment and completion rates. These schools blend formal education with a non-formal mode of provision with support from NGOs, earning Bangladesh international acclaim for its excellence. The schools run differently from normal primary schools: ROSC students tend to be older (between 8 and 14 years of age) than regular primary school students, students and teachers follow a flexible school timing to suit their mutual needs, and students are taught by a single class teacher, till they are ready to appear for the Grade 5 examination and can then join the mainstream secondary schools.
In 2012, 83% of ROSC students passed the national grade 5 examinations, setting themselves on the road to progress to secondary level education. The project also attempts to empower disadvantaged rural communities to establish, own and manage their own Ananda Schools with support from the government and the local education NGOs. 80% of all ROSC school teachers were women and close to 90% of all school management committee heads were women as well.
My daughter now goes to the Ananda School. I am happy, we the women, have a say in our children’s education.
ROSC II will continue to support students in currently operational Ananda Schools established in 2010 and 2011 to enable students to complete grade 5; and scale up the operation in another 100 new upazilas. The project will also pilot similar initiatives in selected urban slums and for domestic workers, and a pre-vocational skills training scheme for older ROSC students. A major emphasis of ROSC II is on enhancing the quality of education provision to disadvantaged children through increased attention to teacher development, teaching-learning support as well as on having an elaborate system of monitoring these activities in the remote and disadvantaged areas through the use of information and communication technologies.
Expected Results by 2017
- 720,000 children in 148 most disadvantaged and remote upazilas brought back to school.
- 50% of these children will be girls.
- 85% student attendance rate and 78% completion rate for Ananda School children.
- 12,000 children benefitted from urban slum pilot.
Towards the Future
ROSC’s success in demonstrating that informal channels can be used to deliver basic education has created demand throughout the country. Consequently, the government has accepted the ROSC model for provision of non-formal education to the out-of-school children in the rest of the country under the Primary Education Development Program III (PEDP III).