About 32% of the population in Bangladesh does not have the minimum amount of income required for a person to afford necessities, hence they would fall under the absolute poverty category (Imam, Islam & Hossin, 2017).
There is also a further 19% of the population that fall under extreme or chronic poverty (Imam, Islam & Hossin, 2017). However, Bangladesh continues to amaze with their incredible economic progress and development (Rajan, 2018). Despite this, half the population of the country continue to suffer from some type of poverty.
The main contributors of this economic growth are the migrant workers, farmers and the garments factories (Rajan, 2018), thus there seems to be a fair amount of job opportunities, so what seems to be the problem?
About 32% of the population in Bangladesh does not have the minimum amount of income required for a person to afford necessities, hence they would fall under the absolute poverty category (Imam, Islam & Hossin, 2017). There is also a further 19% of the population that fall under extreme or chronic poverty (Imam, Islam & Hossin, 2017). However, Bangladesh continues to amaze with their incredible economic progress and development (Rajan, 2018). Despite this, half the population of the country continue to suffer from some type of poverty. The main contributors of this economic growth are the migrant workers, farmers and the garments factories (Rajan, 2018), thus there seems to be a fair amount of job opportunities, so what seems to be the problem?
Why is a country flourishing economically, while half of their people are still stuck in poverty? Well, I believe this is due to inequality and discrimination inside the work place, where either they are not given job opportunities due to their education (Islam, Sayeed & Hossain, 2017), furthermore, the jobs they do get pay significantly less then what they require to have a proper standard of living (“Oxfam reaction to Savar Building Collapse”, 2013).
Also, there are currently no effective policies by the government that can help the people get out of poverty. Although there are programs in country that focuses on getting children to attend school (Ahmed, Khondkar & Quisumbing, 2011) these programs can only do so much. I believe the problem is with the quality of education that these children receive that has put them into poverty and not with attending school itself, and that is the issue this paper will bring to light and I will also recommend a way to solve this problem, such as, reviewing the curriculum every two years and bring change when needed so that the children can have a better quality of education and get out of this poverty trap.
For years, Bangladesh has had an issue with most of their people living in poverty (Imam, Islam & Hossian, 2017). Bangladesh is a small South Asian country in-between India and Myanmar, previously a part of Pakistan, they had successfully gotten their independence on March 26th, 1971, after years of oppression and being seen as a blimp on the Pakistani population. (Rajan,2018). After their independence, things did not get much better as the country were struggling to find an identity socially, and politiancs were fighting to gain power over the county (Rajan,2018). Years of political corruption and tragedy in the country has left the common people in a miserable state, where poverty has taken over their lives and the issue of multi-dimensional poverty comes into play.
Poverty has lead to many negative side effects, such as people not being able to afford health care or education, which makes it hard for them to get a job, which may lead to them take a risky job just to earn enough for a meal, this is called multi-dimensional poverty (Straus & Driscoll, 2019), and this is the nightmare which is considered reality in Bangladesh. Bangladesh also face a problem with inequality and discrimination, in fact people in the country are unwilling to hire people from a different educational background (Rajan, 2018), which they may not find worthy enough for them to be hired. This leads to the Bangladeshi people falling into a poverty trap. A poverty trap is when a country needs a certain amount of funds to escape poverty, however, they lack the means to get the means to get these funds, hence they can not get out of poverty but might fall deeper into it (Straus & Driscoll, 2019).
The government spends more then half of their budget on sending children to school (Ahmed, Khondkar & Quisumbing, 2011), however, it does not seem to do much as they are still unable to find proper work, so they continue to stay in poverty, reinforcing the poverty trap, these people do not have the means to get out of poverty. Why is that the case? Well, there are a couple of reasons. It seems the government uses most of their funds to send children in the urban areas of Bangladesh to school, leaving a huge chunk of kids in rural area out (Mahmud & Akita, 2018). It seems that the policies that the government has implemented do not distribute funds equally between urban and rural areas (Mahmud & Akita, 2018), which causes a regional disparity and inequality in education.
After the rise of neoliberalism in Bangladesh, new policies were implemented in the 1990s which would reduce government funds given to higher education institutions such as universities (Kabir, 2013). As the number of public universities declined, the number of private universities increased, this made it difficult for people with low income or from rural areas to pursue a higher education. This in return made it harder for them to get a proper as most jobs in Bangladesh require the person to have a degree from a university. Hence, they were forced to stay in low paying jobs that pay them twenty-one dollars a month (“Oxfam reaction to Savar Building Collapse”, 2013), forcing them to stay in poverty.
For now, there is an ongoing fight between the workers and the government to raise the minimum wage to sixty-four dollars a month (“Oxfam reaction to Savar Building Collapse”, 2013), which is still barely enough to live, however, due to their lack of qualification they are afraid to demand too much in the fear of being made redundant. On the other hand, Bangladesh continue to have a high drop-out rate in primary and secondary school (Rouf, 2014), the government, however, do spend a hefty amount of their budget to get children to attend school and get their primary education (Ahmed, Khondkar & Quisumbing, 2011), there are also certain programs that the government has implemented that promote women and girls going to school, so that they can have more career options in the future (Ahmed, Khondkar & Quisumbing, 2011).
Nevertheless, this effort put in by the government to get kids into school may have worked as youth literacy rates are much higher than adult literacy rates, they are 64% and 47% respectively (Rouf, 2014). It seems the government is taking the right step into the future, as it seems increasing access to primary education in rural areas will reduce the education inequality between rural and urban areas, however they would need stronger policies to ensure that the children do attend school and do not drop out (Mahmud & Akita, 2018). However, just focusing on primary education and high school is not enough, it seems almost 90% of income disparity is due to different education levels, where people with higher education earn most on the country’s income, leaving the people with only a high school degree or less, to make less then twenty-one dollars a month (Mahmud & Akita, 2018).
The urban areas of Bangladesh offer many options for higher education, since most universities are now private (Kabir, 2013), this robs the people in poverty from sending their children to university. As most universities now private and as most employers require their employees to have a university degree, the people who can afford it, who are unusually well-off to begin with get high paying jobs, and the people stuck in poverty get the low paying jobs which continue to keep them in poverty. Also, there is a difference between the quality of education given to the people in rural areas compared to the people in urban areas, this also serves as a barrier to the people in rural areas from getting into universities due to the disparity and low quality of their education (Mahmud & Akita, 2018).
Many Non-Government Organizations have tried to close the gap between rural and urban education. In fact, BRAC is one of the biggest NGOs in the world (Straus & Driscoll, 2019) and they have their BRAC-BEP, which is a program to help kids from rural areas to get better education (Rouf, 2014), another NGO in Bangladesh known as Grameen Shikka or GS for short, also focus on giving education to underprivileged children, they have literacy programs all over Bangladesh (Rouf, 2014), however both have limitations and without proper funding they can not do much. Therefore, government cooperation and funding are crucial to these organizations running smoothly.
I believe the poverty issue in Bangladesh can be directly linked to the poor education system. I believe that the privatisation of universities, robbed a lot of children from being able to go to university due to their lack of funds. I believe the government should open more public universities, so that more people get access to higher education and not just primary education. There is still a drop-out problem despite the government spending so much money on getting kids to attend primary school (Ahmed, Khondkar & Quisumbing, 2011), this is because they are stuck in a poverty mindset where they believe there is nothing they can do to get out of it. The income disparity is 90% due to the difference in education levels (Mahmud & Akita, 2018), which would mean there is a difference in the quality of education. Therefore, I believe the government should not only focus on getting children to go to school but also focus on the quality of education given to them. They should also give them easier access to universities since most employers value a university degree. Although NGOs provide tremendous support to the people stuck in poverty, giving them education, with a population as big as Bangladesh’s it would be impossible to reach everyone without proper funding, so, I believe the government should spend more of their budget in funding NGOs. In the end I believe the problem of poverty and the education disparity can only be solved if both NGOs and the government work together to decrease the differences in the quality of education given to rural kids in contrast to urban kids, and to open more public universities.