Bangladesh’s remarkable progress in female education

Last Updated on August 22, 2023 9:34 am

In the heartwarming story of Tamanna Zara and her mother Azmeri Begum, we witness the transformative power of education for women in Bangladesh. While Azmeri’s own dreams of pursuing a tertiary education were thwarted two decades ago due to marriage at a young age, with Tamanna arriving in her life within a year, her daughter now has the opportunity to fulfill those aspirations. Their narrative reflects the remarkable strides Bangladesh has made in various sectors since its liberation more than five decades ago, setting an example for countries worldwide.

According to the recently released Global Gender Gap Report 2023 by the World Economic Forum (WEF), Bangladesh has emerged as a regional leader in gender parity within South Asia. With an impressive score of 72.2%, Bangladesh now ranks 59th globally, a notable improvement from its previous ranking of 71st just a year ago.

Zara, one of the 95,721 girls who achieved a GPA5 in the 2022 Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) examinations, exemplifies the rising trend of female education in Bangladesh. In the same year, 80,561 boys also achieved a GPA5. Over the past decade, Bangladesh has witnessed rapid progress in narrowing the gender gap in education, with the current education gender parity rate standing at an impressive 93.6%.

At the age of 19, Azmeri got married in 2003, a path that many young girls in Bangladesh were forced to take at the time. However, two decades later, her daughter Zara, having recently entered her teenage years, is determined to pursue her dreams and delay marriage until after completing her graduation. The Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics Report for 2021 revealed that 32.4% of girls in Bangladesh marry before the age of 18. Additionally, UNICEF reported that between 2005 and 2013, 29% of girls were married before the age of 15, and 65% before the age of 18. Zara’s aspirations, along with those of countless other young women across the nation, reflect the growing enlightenment and progress in Bangladesh.

Zara’s parents fully support their only child’s ambitions for academic and professional success. Dr. Dipu Moni, the Minister of Education, highlights the increasing awareness among people in Bangladesh about the value of education for women and girls, which has contributed to a rise in the proportion of female students in recent years.

Zara envisions completing her undergraduate studies at the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB) and subsequently pursuing her post-graduation in a Western country. Azmeri sees her daughter as the embodiment of her own dreams, hoping that Zara’s success will fulfill the aspirations she was once denied. UNESCO data reveals that between 70,000 and 90,000 Bangladeshi students seek higher education abroad each year, and the proportion of female students within this group continues to increase.

ULAB, where Zara is currently studying, boasts an impressive nearly 50% female student enrollment, surpassing the nationwide average of 36.30% for female university-level students, according to data from the Bangladesh Bureau of Educational Information and Statistics (BANBEIS). ULAB is committed to aligning its efforts with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and offers exclusive scholarships, a conducive learning environment, and encourages female students to engage in extra- and co-curricular activities, empowering them to pursue their aspirations.

Zara’s story resonates with countless other female students at ULAB and beyond, as they strive to transcend societal boundaries and achieve their dreams. Their collective determination and resilience are propelling Bangladesh further along the path to progress and empowerment.

Tawhid Reaz is Coordinator, MBA/EMBA at ULAB.

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