Bangladesh Education System

Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world with about 140 million people within an area of 147,570 thousand square kilometers. Its vast population is one of the major resources. But the problem lies in transforming the potential people into a productive force and ensuring a dynamic environment for social, economic and political development. Though the literacy rate is officially said to be 66%, but according to private survey the rate is only 42%.

Education therefore has been recognized as a priority sector by all governments since her independence. The three main educational systems in Bangladesh, ordered by decreasing student numbers, are:

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  1. General Education System
  2. Madrasah Education System
  3. Technical – Vocational Education System

Other systems include a Professional Education System. Each of these three main systems is divided into four levels:

  • Primary Level (years 1 to 5)
  • Secondary Level (years 6 to 10)
  • Higher Secondary Level (years 11 and 12)
  • Tertiary Level

General Education

  • Primary Level The first level of education is comprised of 5 years of formal schooling (class / grades I – V). Education, at this stage, normally begins at 6+ years of age up to 11 years. Primary education is generally imparted in primary schools. Nevertheless, other types of institutions like kindergartens and junior sections attached to English medium schools are also imparting it.
  • Secondary & Higher Secondary Level The second level of education is comprised of 7 (3+2+2) years of formal schooling. The first 3 years (grades VI-VIII) is referred to as junior secondary; the next 2 years (grades IX -X) is secondary while the last 2 years (grades XI – XII) is called higher secondary. In secondary education, there are three streams of courses such as, Humanities, Science and Business Education, which start at class IX, where the students are free to choose their course(s) of studies. The academic programme terminates at the end of class X when students are to appear at the public examination called S. S. C. (Secondary School Certificate). The Boards of Intermediate and Secondary Educations (BISE) conduct the S. S. C. examination. The secondary education is designed to prepare the students to enter into the higher secondary stage which is being offered by Intermediate Colleges or by intermediate section of degree or master colleges.
  • Tertiary Level. College The third stage of education is comprised of 2-6 years of formal schooling. The minimum requirement for admission to higher education is the higher secondary certificate (H. S. C). HSC holders are qualified to enroll in 3-year degree pass courses while for honours, they may enroll in 4-year bachelors’ degree honours courses in degree level colleges or in the universities. After successful completion that, one can enroll in the master’s degree course. Master degree courses are of one year for honours bachelor degree holders and 2 years for pass bachelor degree holders. For those aspiring to take up M. Phil and Ph. D courses in selected disciplines. The duration is of 2 years for M. Phil and 3-4 years for Ph. Ds after completion of master’s-degree. University There are 73 universities in Bangladesh. Out of these, 21 universities are in the public sector, while the other 52 are in the private sector. Out of 21 public sector universities, 19 universities provide regular classroom instruction facilities and services.

The madrasah education was introduced in 1780 with the establishment of Calcutta Madrasah. In madrasah education, one can learn Islamic religious education along with the general education as complementary to each other in the system of education. The madrasah education system has been continuing with some modifications according to the demand of the time, and many madrasahs grew up in this sub-continent.

  • Primary level or Ebtedayee education This is equivalent to primary level of general education. The first level of madrasah education is comprised of 5 years of schooling (grades I – V). Normally, the children of 6 years of age begins in class 1 and finishes class V at the age of 11 years. Ebtedayee education is imparted in independent ebtedayee madrasahs and ebtedayee sections of dhakhil, alim, fazil and kamil madrasahs. It is also imparted in some of the private quami – kharizi madrasahs.
  • Secondary & Higher Secondary level The secondary level of madrasah education is comprised of 7 (5+2) years of formal schooling. It takes five years in dhakhil stage (S. S. C. level) from grade VI – X while the last 2 years in alim (higher secondary) stage. Dhakhil level education is imparted in dhakhil madrasahs and in dhakhil level of alim, fazil and kamil madrasahs. Alim is equivalent to higher secondary certificate education imparted to alim madrasahs and in alim level of fazil and kamil madrasahs. There are two public examinations namely; dhakhil and alim after the completion of 10 years of schooling and twelve years of education, respectively. The Bangladesh Madrasah Education Board (BMEB) provides these two certificates.
  • Tertiary level This level is comprised of 4 (2+2) years of formal education. The minimum requirement for admission to higher level of madrasah education is the alim (equivalent to HSC) certificates . Alim pass students are qualified to enroll in 2-year fazil education. After successful completion of fazil degree one can enroll in 2 -years kamil level education. There are four streams of courses in kamil level education; streams are hadis, tafsir, fiqh and adab.

Bangladesh Madrasah Education Board conducts these two fazil and kamil examinations and award certificates. The Bangladesh Madrasah Education Board has the following functions as regard to madrasah education:

  • grants affiliations to different levels of madrasahs from ebtedayee to kamil;
  • prescribes syllabi and curricula;
  • conducts public examinations (dhakhil to kamil) and scholarship examinations.

For the students whose interest are not strictly academic may find technical-vocational programmes more interesting and more valuable for their future. Government tries to ensure that the course curriculum should be relevant to students’ interest and aspirations while at the same time it should address the needs of the job market. a. Primary level There is no technical-vocational institution in primary level of education. Ebtedayee in the first level (Primary level) of madrasah education has no scope for technical-vocational education. Accordingly, technical – vocational education in Bangladesh is designed in three phases under two major levels of secondary and tertiary level of education. b. Secondary level

Vocational courses starts from secondary level. The certificate courses prepare skilled workers in different vocations starting from ninth grade after completion of three years of schooling in secondary school. At this level the courses are diversified in different vocations spread over 1 to 2 years duration. Recently, 2 years duration vocational courses have been introduced at the higher secondary level in government managed vocational training institute (renamed as Technical School & College). Diploma courses prepare the diploma engineers at the polytechnic institutes. This course spread over 4 years duration after passing the secondary school certification examination. There is a technical education board called Bangladesh Technical Education Board (BTEB), which grants affiliation to the technical institutes.

The College of Textile Technology and College of Leather Technology offer four -year degree courses in Textile Engineering and Leather Technology respectively after completing Higher Secondary Education. Professional education also imparted in Medical Colleges, Dental Colleges, Nursing College, Homeopathic Colleges, Law Colleges etc.

Other Types of Education Religious and Moral Education One of the aims of education is to establish human, cultural and social values in every tier and sphere of individual and national life. Religious and moral education is one of the ways of achieving this aim. The followers of every religion of the country have the right to learn the main subjects of their respective religions, acquire knowledge about rituals and ceremonies of their respective religion. Religious and moral education is imparted with this end in view.

  • Islamic Studies In order to lead life according to the Islamic tenets and regulations, it is indispensable for every Muslim male/female to receive Islamic education and implement these in their day to day life.
  • Hindu – Religious Studies Bangladesh Sanskrit and Pali Board conducts 3- year course on Sanskrit and religious subjects. These subjects are Adhya in the first year, Madhya in the second year and Upadhi in the third year. Sanskrit language, Prourahitta, Smriti (Hindu law) etc. subjects are included in the courses.
  • Buddhist Religious Studies The system of Buddhist religious studies and the Buddhist religious language Pali are almost similar to that of Hindu religious studies. There is 3-year title course in Pali and ‘Bisharad’ is offered in Pali instead of Teertha. Bangladesh Sanskrit and Pali Board conducts traditional system of Pali education. There are about a hundred of Pali Tolls in the country.
  • Christian Religious Education To meet the religious education needs of Christians in Bangladesh, there are Bible schools and intermediate seminaries which enroll students in the SSC; there are also major seminaries and theological colleges where students with HSC are admitted.

These are all run and managed by the Church bodies which cater to the needs of different denominations of Christianity. ‘Bangladesh’s new education policy must consider 7Cs’ The present government is designing yet another “new” national education policy. This is indeed timely, especially in a globalising world in which other countries have catapulted themselves into the 21st century by vigorously engaging in “knowledge revolution” and by developing their human resources that are aligned with the global knowledge architecture.

She needs help to go further The 7Cs’ of education policy discuss below: Commitment: A very important determinant of any accomplishment in the education sector is the commitment. Commitment is not automatic; it must be generated through a programme that is exciting, achievable, rewarding, demonstrates clear benefits, involves the stakeholders, and is measurable. Comparability: A question is whether to build the education system from scratch or emulate. Here emulation means replicating what is possible and adapting what is needed.

Clientele: The education sector must be designed with its main clientele (students) in mind, whom it wants to serve and empower. It should develop appropriate and responsive programmes, processes, and organisation structures that would best be able to deliver. Capacity: One of the biggest stumbling blocks today for the entire education system is its incapacity. Capacity problems are reflected in the poor condition. Clearly, it is vital to build capacity in the following areas – managerial skills, curriculum design, quality teaching, evaluation systems, and research capabilities – to sustain a first-rate education system.

Coordination: To eke out efficiencies, the education system must be integrated in a linked structure in which one sub-system feeds into the next in a smooth and integrated operation to achieve clear and measurable goals. Cash: The education sector is financially challenged; in fact deprived! Investment in education in Bangladesh is roughly 2. 7% of GDP. If the government is serious, it must increase the allocation of “cash” to this sector substantially. Communication: The final piece that ties everything together is communication. Concern

Governments must design strategies, policies to achieve the goals and objectives, and measure them against international benchmarks. A correlation must be developed between the demands of the job market and expected and current availability of the students to fulfill these demands. A check and balance system must be ensured at all levels, to effectively implement the policies. Technology must be utilized at its best to bridge the gaps, and removing inefficiency of the system to provide quality education. All we need is the “Technologized Sustainable Educational Environment”, to ensure the progress of any country.

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Bangladesh Education System. (2016, Aug 31). Retrieved from