In Bangladesh, school enrollment rates fall drastically from primary (grades 1 to 5) to secondary (grades 6 to 10). In 1998 about 78 percent of pupils completing grade 5 made a transition to the first year of secondary school. Gross enrollment in the secondary phase was only 7 million (38 percent of eligible children).
Due to special encouragement and financial assistance, the enrollment of girls at the secondary level has increased; it is now equal to that of boys in the secondary phases. However, at the next postsecondary level (grades 11 and 12), the girl/boy ratio changes to 34:66. Female students from rural areas and from lower economic strata have fewer chances of joining and completing secondary education.
The Bangladesh National Education Commission has laid down a number of aims and objectives to improve secondary education, especially in these areas:
- utilizating existing physical infrastructure and adding new facilities
- arranging double shifts in as many educational institutions as possible
- reducing the gender gap by encouraging and rewarding female students and their families
- reducing the rural-urban gap in a largely rural agricultural country
- reforming curricula by introducing and improving scientific, technical, and medical education at the secondary level, since the British-inherited system emphasizes liberal arts.
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