Monday, June 24, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

Why is student dropout rate increasing?

  • Dropout rate increased from 1.71% in 2020 to 11.06% in 2021
  • In 2019, some 41% of female students dropped out of schools
Update : 15 May 2024, 11:37 PM

Financial crisis in the family ended his education after the first year of graduation. Mohiuddin Mohan lost his father when he was young. He grew up with three siblings and his mother. Up to class 5, his mother bore the cost of his education. As she fell ill due to her age, Mohan supported himself till graduation by tutoring the young. But he was forced to give up his studies as he struggled to meet educational and family expenses.

"I wanted to finish my graduation. But it didn't happen. Studying is a luxury for those who have to struggle to buy commodities. Graduation is a long way off. However, for the last 10 years, I have tried to complete my education, but it was not possible,” Mohan told Bangla Tribune.

Now he is working as a cashier in a private bank branch with a salary of Tk10,000. Before this, he had taken part in exams at many places for government jobs. He even went all the way to the viva voce but did not get a job. “At some places, they asked for Tk10-12 lakh. If I had that much money, I would have done business myself. 

“I quit studying to take care of my mother's treatment, family maintenance, sibling responsibility, and everything. The family has to run on this little money. 

“It was very hard during the Covid-19 pandemic. I had no way of taking care of things without having to leave studies,” he added.

According to a report by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), many more students like Mohan drop out of school for various reasons, including poverty. It says the dropout rate of students aged 5-24 years without completing their education in 2019 was only 3.10%. But in 2023, it rose to 9.36%. It means that more than three times more students have not completed their education in the last four years due to various reasons.

The report, titled “Bangladesh Sample Vital Statistics-2023”, was published last March. For the preparation of this report, a survey was conducted on 308,032 families.

The study found that due to the impact of the pandemic, the dropout rate increased from 1.71% in 2020 to 11.06% in 2021. In 2022, it was 10.58%.

The report says that 70.73% of the 5 to 24-year-olds were studying in 2019 while 29.27% were out of education. But in 2023, 40.72% drop out of school. 

Earlier, six international organizations, including Save the Children, said in a report in 2019 that 41% of female students and 33% of male students drop out of secondary school due to financial lack, child marriage and various obstacles.

This reporter spoke to some of those who have given up education. They mentioned the family's financial insecurity as one of the main reasons. The BBS survey too identifies financial insecurity as the biggest reason behind dropping out of education at a young age. 

Child marriage, family conservatism or superstition are among the reasons for girls dropping out at secondary level. 

On the other hand, reasons for dropping out of school for male students are financial difficulties, inattention to studies and bad company of friends. In some cases, there are different reasons. Many have studied up to higher secondary and joined different grades of government jobs or various forces. Many have chosen private jobs due to which they did not complete studies.

A few others said that one of the reasons for leaving their studies at the higher secondary and graduation level was job uncertainty and session jam.

Asif, 24, left his studies after high school and joined the Bangladesh Army in 2018. He said: "My cousin completed higher studies but remained unemployed for a long time before running a small business. That's why my father told me to look for a job after passing the HSC (Higher Secondary Certificate) examination. I survived after going into the army. I gave up my studies and served in the army.”

Tanveer Ahmed, a student of Jagannath University, said: "A few years ago, honours students used to continue their education by doing tuition. However, due to the new curriculum at school level, there is less scope for tuition because there is no examination. No one hires teachers for their children except in the case of very conscious parents. 

“So, those who used to pay their own expenses are now finding it difficult to study. Many students are doing various part-time jobs, and they dream that it will become permanent. Some students are trying to become entrepreneurs.”

He thinks the job market is very difficult now. 

“Now only the BCS exam is corruption free in Bangladesh. There is no job without bribe. Years pass by for running after a job after completing studies. So, many become entrepreneurs after their studies. But this option should have been considered earlier when they were students.”

Tanzir Hossain, a student of the Department of Mass Communication and Journalism of Dhaka University, said: "Firstly, there is a shortage of jobs in the country. Then it is foolish to expect a smart salary soon after graduation. Nowadays, it is seen that two men—one having an HSC certificate while the other has a university degree—are doing a job of the same salary. Then, what is the benefit of finishing honours?”

Several people who have not completed their education say that BCS is not everyone's dream, and everyone cannot become successful in BCS exams. Students from low-income families only dream of a government job. Now most of the jobs in the country from grade 10 and below are arranged through corruption. In some cases, the bribe amount is around Tk10-12 lakh while question leak is another example of massive corruption in the job market.

Since not everyone can afford a government job by coughing up hundreds of thousands of taka, many students stop studying or look for jobs while studying.

BBS Deputy Director of Demography and Health Wing Alamgir Hossain said: "Internationally, the young age starts at 24. It is also considered in two parts. A young age starts from 15 years while another at 25. In our country, usually a student completes master’s at the age of 24 years. That is why, we have considered people aged 5-24 as students.”

Asked why there is no detailed mention of the percentage of students who drop out at secondary, higher secondary or graduation level, he said: "We have not done it because there is no end to demands. You are saying this, while others will ask for madrasa or school or age-based data. That is why we only did it nationally. Now if anyone has any special needs, it will be considered. We have not published the original report yet. It will be updated later if there is any demand. 

“Moreover, our report is not focused on education, it is focused on demography. That is why we give more demography, and we give a little less for the supporting ones.”

Md Alamgir thinks people's interest in education is decreasing day by day because the education system could not be made action oriented. As a result, unemployment among the educated people has been on the rise. This is why, people are now thinking that it is better to go for something career-oriented rather than studying. 

“Because of this, an atmosphere of reluctance towards education has been created among the people. We will avoid this kind of risk if we can make our education system action-oriented,” he added.

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