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Helping Bangladeshi Girls Go Further

Bangladesh is one of the world’s most densely populated countries, with a population larger than Russia’s. It is also an extremely poor country—the GNI per capita income is $520. An estimated 4.9 million Bangladeshi children ages 5 to 15 are engaged in child labor, making it difficult to break the cycle of poverty that contributes to one of the lowest adult literacy rates in Southeast Asia. With a dropout rate by grade five of about 50%, the challenge is not just getting girls in school—it is keeping them there.

© Andrew Biraj / World Bank More girls like these are a going to school, making female education a revolution at a village-level.
93.7 percent of primary school age children in Bangladesh were enrolled as of 2007. Source:

The Approach

Stipends That Advance Girls’ Futures

The IDA-financed Bangladesh Female Secondary School Assistance Program, launched in 1993, supported a government program to improve access to secondary education for girls by providing tuition stipends to keep them in school. It improved the quality of schools through teacher training, provision of performance incentives to schools and students, and water and sanitation facilities. The project covered 121 of Bangladesh’s 507 sub-districts.

The Impact

IDA’s Results
  • Contributed US$185 million since 1993 for several government-run projects designed to enhance girls’ access to secondary education.
  • Tripled girls’ enrollment in secondary schools, to 3.9 million in 2005, up from 1.1 million in 1991. This has enabled Bangladesh to achieve one of its Millennium Development Goals, gender parity in education, ahead of schedule.
  • Helped build and strengthen a program management unit within the Ministry of Education that manages and oversees the stipend program.

By the Numbers

  • 67% spike in girls’ enrollment over 17 years. Female enrollment increased from 33 percent in 1991 to almost 55 percent in 2008.
  • 23% increase in girls’ pass rates. Secondary School Certificate pass rates for girls increased from 39 percent in 2001 to 62.8 percent in 2008.
  • 33,000+ teachers were trained under the project.
  • 7,000+ schools participated in the program through a cooperative agreement with the Ministry of Education, exceeding the target number.

Learn More About This Project

More About IDA@Work In Bangladesh

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