Supporting primary education assists Bangladesh to address some of its productivity constraints by improving literacy, numeracy and overall 'trainability' of the future workforce. Approximately 43 per cent of the population remains illiterate and the average years of schooling among the labour force is just under five years, which is very low compared with countries that are currently competing with Bangladesh in the garment sector. Low levels of literacy and inadequate years of schooling make higher level skill acquisition more difficult.
Bangladesh provides the majority of funds for its primary education program, but seeks engagement from Australia and other donors to help it deliver services more efficiently and effectively. Australia brings over 16 years of experience in the education sector. Australia is also expanding access to education opportunities for Bangladeshis through BRAC and second-chance education. This benefits children, predominantly girls from poor families as well as children with a disability, who have dropped out or never enrolled in school.
BRAC Strategic Partnership Arrangement
$95 million, 2016-2020
BRAC is one of the largest non-government organisations in the world, and affects the lives of 110 million people in Bangladesh alone. Australia's Strategic Partnership Arrangement with BRAC and the UK Government is an innovative approach to delivering aid through non-government organisations. It provides BRAC with the flexibility to allocate funds from its development partners in areas of agreed priority. Through this partnership BRAC delivers basic education to approximately 180,000 students annually (60 per cent female) in rural and urban areas. These students are from extremely poor families who without this support may well not have access to an education.
Government of Bangladesh’s Third Primary Education Development Program
$49.4 million, 2011-2017
Bangladesh's Third Primary Education Development Program is a sector-wide program designed to deliver an efficient, inclusive and equitable primary education system that delivers effective learning to all Bangladesh's children from pre-primary to grade five. The program focuses on learning outcomes, participation, reducing gender and social disparities, decentralisation, effective use of budget allocations, and program planning and management. The Government of Bangladesh's Third Primary Education Development Program builds on previous programs with an increased focus on improving learning outcomes and increasing school completion rates.
The program is financed by the Government of Bangladesh and nine development partners: Asian Development Bank, World Bank, UNICEF, European Union, and the governments of Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, Japan and Sweden.