The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has decided to give a loan of $500 million to upgrade the primary education sector of Bangladesh.
The approval came on Thursday at the Manila-based lending agency’s headquarters.
The loan will be used to provide quality education to all children from pre-primary level to grade five.
ADB’s Country Director in Bangladesh Mr Manmahon Parkash on Wednesday said the bank has given highest priority to develop Bangladesh’s skilled manpower.
Despite recent progress, Bangladesh still needs to improve the quality and equity of primary education.
He cited a 2015 national student assessment, which showed that 35 per cent of students at grade-3 had yet to achieve the grade-level competencies for Bangla.
The situation is even worse in mathematics where 61 per cent of students failed to achieve to achieve the grade-level competencies.
Moreover, many school-age children are still out of school (about 2.5 million). This is more prevalent in poor families and in disadvantaged locations such as city slums, ADB said.
“Despite a series of investments, Bangladesh’s primary education system has not been able to keep pace with the rapid increase in student enrolment,” said ADB Senior Social Sector Specialist Ms. Xin Long.
“ADB’s results-based lending programme supports the government’s initiatives—in coordination with other development partners—to tackle the challenges and lift the overall performance of primary education.”
Rapid expansion of primary education is a prime driving force of the country’s economic development.
Poverty has halved since 2000 to 24.3 per cent and Bangladesh reach lower middle-income status. Bangladesh achieved almost universal access to primary education by 2016 with a 98 per cent net enrolment rate.
The efficiency of primary education has also improved.