Investment in the early years remains one of the most important factors in building a strong human capital base and achieving greater economic prosperity. Global evidence shows that investment in the early years is one of the most cost-effective means of improving economic and social indicators (World Bank 2019). Multi-sectoral investments in health and nutrition, child protection, and early years education play an important role in ensuring that children are on the right track from birth onwards in terms of cognitive, language, socioemotional, and physical development.
Only 13.5 percent of children aged 3–4 years were enrolled
The MICS data also show that only 13.5 percent of children aged 3–4 years were enrolled in ECE. Factors such as cultural norms and lack of parental understanding; financial problems; social access issues, such as ethnic minority status or special needs; and geographical access problems are likely to contribute to lower participation among younger children.
Children not attending preschool or other grades are likely to be from the poorest families and living in rural areas.
Improvement over time
Participation in preschool improved among 5-year-old children from rural areas and across the major divisions between 2010 and 2016–17. The share of children from rural families attending preschool increased from around 14 percent in 2010 to around 31 percent in 2016–17. Similarly, the share of children from urban areas attending preschool increased from around 25 percent to 39 percent during this period. Participation in preschool increased across all divisions, with Rangpur, Rajshahi, and Khulna achieving attendance rates exceeding 35 percent. Despite this progress, there still remains significant scope to improve access to preschool in each division as indicated by the large percentages of children who were not enrolled in any grade in 2017.
Financial assistance to children from the most economically disadvantaged families is one way to improve access to ECE. Poverty-targeted stipends is a good approach to create demand and improve access to ECE for children from the poorest families. Stipends in the form of cash transfers conditional on attendance are likely to improve attendance, retention, and learning outcomes.
Preschools and Play Groups
Child daycare centers are another option for early year care and education for some families. There are a range of center-based providers, including government, private for-profit, private non-profit, and community based.
Key Pre Primary quality standards in Bangladesh
Teacher qualifications: Minimum qualification for teachers is a tertiary degree. Certificate or diploma in education (not focused on ECE) must be completed within three years of hiring for a permanent position.
Curriculum: Play-based curriculum covering multiple developmental domains.
Class size: 20–30 students with two teachers.
Class hours: 2–3 hours per day, 5–6 days per week.
Area: Minimum 250 square feet of indoor space.
Others: Potable water, hygienic facilities, and electricity and infrastructure standards same as primary schools.
Source: Infrastructural Guideline for PEDP4 2019, PEDP4 Program Document 2018, Teacher Recruitment Plan 2019; and Operational Framework for Pre-Primary Education 2008.
Source: Education Global Practice South Asia Region, "Bangladesh The Landscape of Early Childhood Education in Bangladesh" February 12, 2020