Report on Primary School Dropouts
Subject: Sociology | Topics:

1.1 PROPOSITION

“The educated differ from the non-educated as much as the living from the dead”. -Aristotle
The importance of education in human development is not a new discovery. Education is the most fundamental human rights which is not only connected to measure of literacy but also related to a range of other indices including mortality, fertility, population growth, nutritional status and economic progress. The expansion of educational opportunity is a “win-win” strategy that in most societies is far easier to implement than the redistribution of other assets such as land or capital. Ultimately, education builds what Amartya Sen (1999) calls “human capabilities” – the essential and individual power to reflect, make choices, seek a voice in society, and enjoy a better life. Education, and particularly primary education, is a goal in and of itself, but it is also a powerful driver of progress toward the other Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) .
The denial of the right to education hurts people’s capacity to work productively, to sustain and protect themselves and their families. The core of mass public education, and hence the starting place for literacy for most of the world’s population, is primary education. Yet illiteracy begins as a sad fact of daily life for millions of children because education is beyond reach. Even many of those children fortunate enough to be enrolled may not complete their primary education due to various reasons. Over 150 million children in developing countries start school but do not reach grade five. These children are not emerging with the literacy, numeracy and life skills that are the foundation for learning throughout life.
Although drop-out problem can be found at both primary and secondary levels, it is more crucial at the primary level because a secondary school drop-out has at least acquired literacy and some other educational skills and knowledge. He or she may more easily resume schooling, or take up training outside the system but the primary school drop-out often remains as illiterate and thus have further restriction placed upon a background of poverty and ignorance.
Bangladesh has made some progress in basic education, especially primary education, during the decade since the adoption of international EFA (Education for All) goals in Jomtien Thailand in 1990. However, Bangladesh is yet to ensure universal primary education, and one of the persistent problems which have held back universalization of primary education is the early dropping-out of children from the schools. This represents enormous wastage of resources and contributes directly to the number of illiterates.
From the available statistical data, it can be seen that the drop-out rate in primary level is constantly remaining around 32 to 35 percent during last five years , despite the fact that a lot of incentives has been taken by the government and various donor agencies. As universal primary education cannot be achieved if drop-out problem persist, it has to be given priority and research should be done particularly on drop-out children to find out their problems and take necessary steps to solve them. This research therefore, is focusing on this problem and attempts to find out the reasons behind drop-out in a primary school from an anthropological perspective.

1.2 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

There are two major objectives of this study-
1. Investigate the Reasons behind dropouts in a primary school.
The specific objectives regarding the first major objective is to find out the role of-
a) Economic reasons behind dropouts
b) Societal reasons behind dropouts
c) School environment
d) Overall quality of education

2. Evaluate the impact of government incentives to encourage primary education.
The specific objectives regarding the second major objectives is to observe and evaluate –
a) Programme performance
b) Identify beneficiary and non-beneficiary groups.

1.3 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

Drop-out problem is identified as one of the major barriers in achieving universal primary education by many reports but yet the major research works conducted on the education sector of Bangladesh have given an overview
of the existing education system and various aspects related to it, and drop-out problem came as a smaller segment of a larger work in most of these reports. The research works and reviews that have been done by the government highlighted the increasing enrolment rate but overlooked the poor retention and completion rate. Even in the non-government institutional research the drop-out problem didn’t receive the importance it should have had.
As universal primary education cannot be achieved if drop-out problem persists, so it should be given the due importance in order to take the necessary steps to solve it. For this, research should be done mainly on drop-out children to find out about their problems which caused them leave school. This research therefore duly focuses on the problem and tries to find out the true reasons behind the drop-outs.
The very few books and research that have been done on drop-out problem was mainly done by statistical methods like survey. No anthropological research in Bangladesh has been done on the topic, which is why this research is significant as it applies the anthropological methods and investigates the reasons behind drop-outs with a holistic approach. The data of this research is qualitative in nature which helps to understand the circumstance, background, experiences and the attitude of drop-outs, their parents, teachers and community members.
Most of the researches on barriers of primary education were done only on the girls but this research has taken both boys and girls as samples in order to find out all types of barriers that contribute to the problem. The findings of this research can contribute in taking necessary steps to bring the drop-out children back to school again and can also help the government, policy makers and donor agencies in reformation and improvement of education system.

1.4 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY

The biggest limitation of this study was the short space of time. An anthropological research needs a long time, but in this case it was not possible due to the time limits and economic constraints were also responsible for it.
Secondly, the time during which the research was conducted was in the month of June, when it was the rainy season. So, the weather was very bad at times, making it difficult to reach target places. As a result, though the primary list of dropouts contained 20 names, only 12 could be interviewed due to the lack of transport and bad communication facilities.

REVIEW OF LITERATURE
A thorough literature review is vital for the success of any research project because it serves many purposes for the research. It supports the importance of the study’s focus and may serve to validate the eventual findings in a narrowly descriptive study. It also guides the development of explanation during data collection and analysis in studies that seek to explain, evaluate, and suggest linkages among events.
A thoughtful and insightful discussion of related literature builds a logical framework for the research that sets it within a tradition of inquiry and a context of related studies. The literature review serves four broad functions. First, it demonstrates the underlying assumptions behind the general research questions. If possible, it should display the research paradigm that under girds the study and describe the assumptions and values the researcher brings to the research enterprise. Second, it demonstrates that the researcher is thoroughly knowledgeable about related research and the intellectual traditions that surround and support the study. Third, it shows that the researcher has identified some gaps in previous research and the proposed study will fill a demonstrated need. Finally, the review refines and redefines the research questions and related tentative hypotheses by embedding those questions and related tentative hypotheses by embedding those questions in larger empirical traditions.
The various books, research reports and documents relevant to this research have been reviewed to build the logical framework of this research.

REPORTS
The following literature reviews have been done on reports and research papers.

1) The report titled “Bangladesh Education Sector Overview” has been produced by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, in March 2002. It is a review of the education sector in Bangladesh. This study summarizes the current status, government policies, and progresses made in the Bangladesh’s education sector in recent years; identify and explain major issues and constraints in the development of education and factors contributing to the issues; and summarize major activities of non-governmental and foreign donor organizations and main lessons learned.
The objectives of the investigation were to (i) present the current status and government policies in education and progress made in the education sector in recent years; (ii) identify and explain major issues and constraints in the development of education; and (iii) summarize major activities of government, non-governmental organizations and external donor agencies and lessons learned from these regarding future development.
The part of the report about primary education was pertinent to the research undergone. The researchers stated that over the last 20 years, Bangladesh has made a significant progress in education. Primary school enrolment increased from 12 million to over 18 million during 1990-1998. Other parts of the education system also made an expansion. However, still one out of every five primary school-age children is out of school, nearly a half of new entrants to primary first grade are not of the official entrance age and of those enrolled, drop-out rate is high. Regional and gender equity issues and educational outcome problems (such as still high illiteracy) add to the challenge. The government, local community and non governmental organizations are striving to improve the education sector performance with support from external agencies.
The main theme of the research was to find those areas in the Bangladeshi education sector in which the JBIC can contribute to improve the situation. For this, various recent discussions about development plans, strategies and outcomes, that have suggested strengths and weaknesses of the Bangladesh society and the economy, have been summarized, applying a framework of strength–weaknesses–opportunities-threats (SWOT) analysis. The characteristics of recent economic growth trends were noted. The mixed record in poverty alleviation and the government’s ambivalence about NGO effort in this area had been described. The opportunities for relating the education system and its sub-sectors to the goals of growth with equity and the broader aims of human development were recapitulated. Finally, the areas for international cooperation in educational development have been identified.

2) The report under the heading “Current Situations of Basic Education in Bangladesh” has been prepared by Md. Badal Miah. The objective of the research work was to analyze the education system of Bangladesh, emphasizing particularly on the quality of education. Here, the researcher has investigated different primary, secondary, etc. institutes and describes the situations within.
About the primary level, the researcher discovered that although student enrolment is persistently increasing, but quality of education is poor. The researcher then classified secondary education into three levels: junior, secondary and higher secondary. Once again, the researcher identifies increasing enrolment rates but poor quality of education. Higher education has also been discussed in brief. Science education has been described elaborately and the facilities that different educational institutes provide for this study has been investigated as well. Finally, the special training programmes for teachers have been outlined and report is concluded by giving some suggestions for improvements to this sector.
The researcher Md. Badal Miah saw that student enrollment has increased over the years; however, the quality of education did not improve. Although there are some schools where good library facilities are there, but there was very little use of it due to lack of interest among the student. Some schools also have good laboratory facilities, but without the presence of laboratory assistant those equipment and chemicals are being wasted. Academic supervision, which is necessary to improve the quality of education, is fully absent in all the secondary schools and training institute. Recently, government is expanding its budget on education and trying to provide more facilities like computer, books, laboratory equipment but still they are not enough to fulfill the requirement.

3) The report titled “Policy Brief On ‘Education Policy’ – CPD Task Force Report” has been prepared by the Centre for Policy Dialogue task force in August 2001. The report is a brief review of the education sector of Bangladesh at present. The main theme of the report is to analyze the education sector in Bangladesh and identify the key issues that need to be addressed.
The report is divided into four sections. The first chapter gives a brief introduction to the report and gives a highlight of the report. The second chapter analyzes the education sector of Bangladesh. At first, the structure, management and budgeting has been discussed. It is followed by a description of the different forms of education, which include primary education, secondary and higher education, etc. Much data representing the number of institutions, students and teachers from the years 1990 to 2001 have been included. The third chapter reviews the different important issues that need to be discussed. For example, under the heading of primary education, topics such as access, equity, quality, relevance and efficiency has been discussed. Finally, the report concludes by giving a list of steps that need to be taken immediately.
The issue about dropouts was discussed to an extent. About dropouts, the researchers said that “A sizeable number of children from very poor households were never enrolled in primary schools, and many of those enrolled dropped out before completing the full five year cycle as their families depended on child labour for survival. Although there has been some reduction in drop out rate from 38 percent in 1995 to 35 percent in 1998, (Planning Commission, 2000) it still remains considerably high, and needless to mention that drop out rate is significantly higher amongst children from poorer households”.

4) The paper “Incentive Schemes for School Attendance in Rural Bangladesh” was published by Sajeda Amin and Gilda Sedgh in the year 1998. The main objectives of the report are to review the effect of two policies on school attendance in rural Bangladesh.
The first one of them is a food-for-education for primary school children. The second one is a scholarship for secondary school female students. For the research purpose, the attendance rates were collected both before and after the programmes started. The last one is a programme by BRAC. BRAC schools are one-room classes of 30 students that give preferential enrolment to girls and to children from poor families.
The researchers came to a conclusion that the school enrolment rates and hence the attendance rates increased at a high rate as the schemes were introduced. The researchers compared the enrolment trends among the landless families with the trends observed among all families and found that it points to the role of the incentive programs in boosting school enrolment. They also found that after 1995, the proportion of older children in primary school declined considerably in all groups, reaching levels below those of 1992. These declines coincided with sharp increases in the proportions of children enrolled in secondary school during the same period. These trends suggest that one of the net effects of the incentive programs has been an improvement in the proportion of children in the level of schooling appropriate to their age.
Consequently, the marriages of the girls in that area were delayed. Evidence suggests that peoples attitude towards education is slowly changing.

5) The report titled “Food for Education” prepared by the IFPRI in the late 2000 reviews the factors and different issues related to the government incentive scheme to increase school attendance.
The report consists of three topics under the headings background; facts on hunger, poverty, and education; and, results of evaluation: food for schooling in Bangladesh. The first chapter depicts the situation in Bangladesh. The general persisting poverty, factors related to schooling and the different incentives to improve attendance rates have been discussed. In the second chapter, a comparison between the general situations in Bangladesh with the rest of the world has been discussed. In the third and final chapter, the effects of the incentives have been discussed. The report is then concluded by some suggestions to improve the current situation.

The IFPRI came to the following conclusions about FFE:
1. FFE has been successful in increasing primary school enrolment, promoting school attendance, and reducing dropout rates. The enrolment increase was greater for girls than for boys.
2. The quality of education is lower in FFE schools than in non-FFE schools, largely because enrolment is greater.
3. Targeting is generally effective, but it could be improved. The program targets poor households. However, there are still some eligible households in FFE villages who are not in the program.
4. FFE improves household food security.
5. FFE alone does not improve the nutritional status of vulnerable household members.

The suggestions made by the IFPRI are:
1. Include complementary financial and technical assistance to improve the quality of education.
2. Combine FFE with school feeding to achieve better results.
3. Improving target criteria.
4. FFE should be broadened to include a preschool feeding program.

6) The research paper “Human Capital Development and Operations Policy – Literacy and Primary Education” prepared by Kowsar P. Chowdhury is based on the educational sectors of developing countries.

The main objective of the report is to identify the issues relating to illiteracy. In the paper, literacy has been defined at first and then the literacy status of different countries has been reviewed. The difference in literacy rates between different age groups, genders, regions, etc. have been included as well. The researcher then describes the reasons to eradicate illiteracy. Here, the researcher brings out some reasons which include the increased influence of parents regarding children’s employment and schooling economical and social development, etc. Education in the primary sector has been focused in particular, and the necessary steps to deal with illiteracy problems in this sector have been discussed as well. Finally, the paper is concluded by some suggestions regarding the roles of donor agencies, and governments in eliminating illiteracy in developing countries.
To some extent, the problem of dropouts has also been discussed. The paper compares the enrolment rates and the dropout rates, and indicates the low retention rates. Some constraints that lead to low enrolment rates and high dropout rates have also been identified, which includes (I) in-school-factors, e.g. availability of schools, quality and efficiency, school process, etc. (II) out-of-school-factors, e.g. direct costs, opportunity costs and costs related to cultural demand.
7) Education research paper no. 09 prepared by an UK based organization DFID (Department For International Development) was published in the year 1993. The main purpose of the research was to find out the factors affecting female participation in education in developing countries.
The paper consisted of three chapters, namely context, factors and recommendations. The first chapter is a detailed description of the study area, i.e. Bangladesh. The team of researchers made a study on the educational system of Bangladesh and collected data on the enrollment rates in primary and secondary schools. Several teachers, parents and students were interviewed and their views about female education were taken. The second chapter is concerned with the actual topic, i.e. the factors affecting female education. The factors listed were differentiated into many categories including geographical, socio-cultural, health, etc. The government incentives for encouraging female education have also been included.
The third and last chapter is a list of recommendations made by the researchers suggesting how to improve female education after analyzing the situation in Bangladesh.
The chapter concerning the factors affecting female education was relevant to the research work being conducted. The geographical aspect states that the greater the distance of school from home, the lesser the number of female students. The rural/urban imbalance in provision, enrolment, drop-out and female literacy rates is very striking. The socio-cultural aspect states that the common deep-rooted beliefs that girls should stay at home and the discrimination between girls and boys are the key factors to female opportunities in education. Poverty has been identified as the chief economic factor in determining female education. Many other factors that include poor health, legal and administrative aspects have been discussed as well.

8) The report titled “Primary Education in Bangladesh – Findings of the PSPMP: 2000” is a review of the Primary School Performance Monitoring Project (PSPMP) which was operated by the Government of Bangladesh in collaboration with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in the year 1999.
The project was classified into three different stages, a six month first, phase followed by a twelve month second stage, and finally an eighteen month third stage. During the first stage, the project explored the situation of the primary schools in Bangladesh and developed a monitoring model. During the next (second) stage, the project piloted the model in 66 schools twice and refined it based on these experiences. The last (third) stage witnessed the replication of the model in a nationally selected sample of 150 schools and refined the model further. This report presents the findings of the third phase survey conducted in the year 2000.

According to the major findings of the study, the barriers of education are as follows:
1. Lack of physical facilities.
2. Availability of educational materials.
3. Human resource inputs.
4. Community participation.
5. Enrolment and attendance of children.
6. Teachers’ attitudes toward student potential.
7. Rewards and punishments.
8. Teachers’ qualities.
9. Perceptions of parents and communities.
10. Educational materials in the classroom.
11. Curriculum of the delivery.
12. Involvement of the children in the learning process.
13. Relating lessons to life experiences.
14. Diagnosis of children’s problems.
15. Recognition of children’s views.
16. The classroom environment.

9) The report titled “Dropout, Repeaters’ and Promoters’ Rates in Primary Education Sub-Sector in Bangladesh” has been prepared by the BIDS (Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies). The report was published in April 17, 1994. The research was conducted over the Dhaka, Chittagong, Rajshahi and Khulna divisions, and the data given are relevant for the years 1987 to 1992.
There are three main chapters in the report. The first chapter gives the sources from where the data have been collected. The second chapter analyzes the performances of students in terms of dropout rates, promotion rates and repeaters’ and compares them in context with regional and gender divides. Dhaka division has been declared a bad performer in terms of dropout rates. In terms of repeaters’ rates, Rajshahi shows the highest rates while Chittagong shows the lowest. And Khulna and Chittagong usually remained ahead of Dhaka and Rajshahi in terms of promoters’ rates. Finally, the third chapter provides an analysis of the investigation.
The main findings of the research are as follows:
a. Participation rate (percent of eligible children enrolling in the school) is positively related with agricultural land holding and/or family income; similarly better-off households (with agricultural land and/ort household income) show lower dropout rates.
b. Parental education (especially mother’s education-level) positively influences participation rate of the children and their retention rate.
c. Among the school factors, more motivated teachers and life-skill-related curriculum, positively affect participation rate and retention rate of the children (as seen in the non-formal primary schools of BRAC and CMES).

10) The report titled “Assessing the Performance of Conditional Cash Transfer Programs for Primary and Secondary Education in Bangladesh” has been prepared by the IFPRI for the World Bank. The report was published on February 17, 2004.
The mains aims of the investigation were to analyze the impacts of the different conditional cash transfer programs on the primary and secondary education sectors. The information collected through this research would help the Government of Bangladesh to improve the policies for the education sector.
The paper consists of eight sections. Section 1 gives an introduction to the report. Section 2 discusses the stipend programs that have been introduced in the primary and secondary education sectors. Following it, section 3 analyses the information used in the investigation. Next, section 4 lists the main findings of the information collected from the village survey. Sections 5 and 6 presents the results of the quantitative analyses of educational attainment at the household and school levels. Section 7 contains qualitative information on the programs. The report is ended by presenting the conclusions for the policies in section 8.
After much analysis of the collected data, the researchers came to the following conclusions:
a) Although the male population has a higher literacy rate than the female population, the rate of increase of literacy level for the female population is much more rapid.
b) The gross and net enrollment rates for girls in the secondary level are much higher than those for boys (this could be interpreted as an indicator of the success of the female secondary school stipend projects). However, the overall enrollment rates for secondary schools are still very low.
The dropout rates for boys in schools under the female secondary school stipend projects are higher than those for girls. However, the dropout rates for girls in grade 10 are higher than those of that for boys.

BOOKS
The following literature reviews have been done on books.

11) The book titled “GETTING STARTED – Universalizing Quality Primary Education In Bangladesh” Edited by A. K. Jalaluddin and A. Mustaque R. Chowdhury is a review of the conference on universal primary education that was held in Dhaka on 6 -10 August 1996. The book was published in the year 1997. The main aim of the conference was to examine the past performance of the primary education sector and to investigate the issues related to achieving universal primary education.
Different aspects of primary education have been discussed in this book. Both formal and non-formal education has been examined, and the different topics that come under it, for example the management, the annual budgeting, the different incentives and programs undertaken to increase enrollment and school attendance, etc.
A survey conducted by the BIDS states that dropout rates among the first graders varied between zero percent (in both sexes) in urban Khulna to 16.3 percent among the urban pupil of Dhaka. Among the fourth graders, the urban Khulna pupils again led the way by exhibiting a zero percent dropout rate (in both sexes) and the rural Dhaka pupil (both sexes) recorded the lowest performance with 7.5 percent dropout rate.
A. H. M. Sadiqul Haq in his article ‘Review of Primary Education in Bangladesh’ indicates that although enrollment rates continue to increase satisfactorily, the rate of dropouts still remains high. Dropouts are identified as wastage of the government incentives, and they continue to remain the biggest obstacle in attaining universal primary education.

12) The book titled “Bangladesh Education Sector Review – Volume I” is a review of the education sector of Bangladesh is prepared by the World Bank. The report was published in the year 2000.
The report is divided into a main report and two background papers. The main report consists of the findings from the investigation of the education sector. The first chapter is a glance into the future of Bangladesh in the year 2020. The next chapter gives a view of the education sector in 2020. The aims and possibilities for the future have been discussed and the necessary steps that need to be taken to fulfill this target have been focused on and the necessary measures to eradicate these problems have been discussed. The next chapter emphasizes on the secondary education sector and are concerned with private education, higher education, etc. and management of these sectors.
The first background paper examines the socioeconomic development and their implications for education. The next and concluding paper analyzes education finance.
The chief aim of the report is to identify issues and alternatives, and to stimulate debate about priorities. In the future, the report may also serve to be a basis for identification of future investment both for the government and for its development partners.
To accomplish the visions that the World Bank has seen for Bangladesh, the World Bank has suggested six steps that need to be taken immediately. They are:
i) Build a stronger, wider and deeper foundation of basic education;
ii) Reorient and establish secondary education on a more equitable footing;
iii) Transfer vocational skill training to non-government providers;
iv) Rationalize, reform and revitalize higher education;
v) Vastly increase public financing of education; and
vi) Manage the system better.

13) The book titled “Bangladesh Education Sector Review – Volume II” is the second volume of World Bank’s review of the education sector of Bangladesh. The report was published in the year 2000.
The report is divided into three parts. The first part is concerned with primary and pre-primary education. Different aspects of the sector have been examined. These aspects include the many characteristics, the strengths, the weaknesses and future plans and policies of the system. Dropouts have also come into focus. The report proclaims that the current rate of dropouts is 40 percent and steps to increase the efficiency of the education sector have been discussed.
The researchers concluded the following about primary education:
i. At present almost 10 percent of children do not enter primary school at all. For the most part these children are from hard-to-reach poor families for whom the opportunity cost of attendance is too high. Among these are also children with disabilities and ethnic minorities.
ii. Forty percent of those who enter primary education do not complete the five grades.
iii. Student wastage (repetition and dropout) is high, with most students taking six years to reach fourth grade.
iv. Those who complete the five grades on average at about a third grade achievement level and lack essential problem solving skills.
The recommended solutions to these problems include priority attention to improvements in quality of education, increase local management, increase public investment, etc.
The second part of the report is based on non-formal education. The different issues related to it have been discussed and future strategies analyzed. The concluding part of the report is about secondary and higher secondary education. The characteristics, the strengths and weaknesses, government plans for the future, etc. of the secondary education sector have been investigated.

14) The book titled “Hope Not Complacency – State of primary education in Bangladesh 1999” prepared by the Education Watch in the year 1999 is a review of the primary education sector of Bangladesh.
The report consists of seven chapters. Chapter one gives an introduction to the report and outlines the objectives. Chapter two gives the findings of the report. Chapter three explains the methodology used. Chapters four and five provide data on different internal efficiency indicators. Chapter six describes supervision and the participation of the community. Chapter seven concludes the report. The annexes describe some of the aspects discussed in the report in detail.
The main objectives of the ‘Education Watch’ are to collect and publish reliable data on various education related indicators and to play an advocacy role for primary education in Bangladesh. This report deals with various indicators pertinent to ‘internal efficiency’ of primary education in Bangladesh.
According to the ‘Watch’, the rates of dropout at that time were 5.5% for girls and 5.7% for boys. The Watch also stated that the highest dropout occurred in Madrassas while the English-medium kindergartens and non-formal schools registered the lowest dropout. . This certainly implies that the form of education is related to completion rate.

15) The book “Education for All – National Plan of Action” has been published by the Primary and Mass Education Division of the Government of Bangladesh. The report was published in the year 1995.
The main aims of the report were to examine the education sector of Bangladesh. The progresses made in achieving universal primary education were to be focused on and future plans were to be suggested using the information and experiences in the education sector in recent years.
In the book, education has been identified as a basic foundation for human resource development. The major steps taken so far to encourage education have been included in the report and their impacts have been discussed. The increasing enrollment rates in the primary level have been marked and the measures to improve this performance were suggested. Various wastage indicators in the primary level have also been taken into account, to verify the internal efficiency of the sector.
According to the researchers, the completion rate for primary education has increased from 40.3 in 1991 to 69.8 in 2000 over the years. However, in contrast, the dropout rates have not decreased satisfactorily. The reasons behind it have been identified and the necessary steps to reduce dropout rates have been identified. The report is then concluded by discussing some factors and steps that can be taken to improve the quality of primary education.
According to the Primary and Mass Education Division, the major barriers to increasing enrollments and reducing dropouts are:
a. Want of school within accessible distances,
b. Shortage of classrooms and overcrowding,
c. Shortage of teachers particularly female teachers,
d. Lack of proper teaching and learning aids,
e. Shortage of furniture, fittings, other school supplies,
f. Lack of playgrounds, water supply, satisfactory toilet facilities, particularly for girls,
g. Lack of equipments and supplies for the students, especially proper clothes for girls.
According to the researchers, these constraints must first be overcome to achieve universal primary education.

16) The book titled “Dropout Problems in Primary Education – Some Case Studies” has been published by the UNESCO in the year 1984. The book is essentially a compilation of the reports about the education sectors of different Asian countries such as China, India, Peninsular Malaysia, Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, Srilanka and Thiland. These countries have been taken as case studies and the backgrounds of the education sectors, the current situations of the dropout problems, trends, the actions taken to reduce dropout problems, plans and strategies, etc. of these countries have been discussed. Some recommendations for improving the situations have been included in the book as well.
Some of the main findings of the book include factors responsible for dropouts. Here, primary school facilities, the inadequacies of study materials, the lack of proper accommodation for students, etc. have been identified as the major internal factors. Among the internal factors, the economic and social conditions of the student family, parental illiteracy, malnutrition, parents’ land holding, rural and urban residence have been listed here.
The actions needed to eliminate dropouts have been discussed as well. The actions that have been given top priority by the government and NGOs’ are the provision of sufficient schools and learning teaching materials and equipment, the inclusion of adequate number of well trained teachers in the teaching staff, and the abolition of repetition.
About the actions taken so far by different countries, an important point have been made, which is that most of the measures taken to prevent dropouts were direct of indirect parts of a much wider scheme to enhance attainment of universal primary education. The report is then concluded by reviewing the overall performance of the countries over which the report had been conducted.

17) The book titled “Literacy in Bangladesh – Need for a New Vision” has published by the Education Watch in the year 2002. The main aim of the research is to establish definitively the baseline for the literacy status of the population in Bangladesh.
The report is divided into eight chapters. The first chapter is an introduction to the education system in Bangladesh and its current situations. Chapter two briefly presents an international perspective on literacy. The context of EFA and lifelong learning for literacy is noted. The evolution of the concept of literacy and its different meanings are discussed. A brief historical sketch of literacy campaigns and programmes are presented. The need to place the literacy within a new common vision for literacy, basic education and lifelong learning, helping build the learning society, is underscored. Chapter 3 describes the methodology of the study, including the sample design of the national survey and the development of the literacy test. Chapter 4 presents the literacy status of the population based on the results of the national literacy survey. The socio-economic correlates of literacy are presented in Chapter 5. A socio-economic profile of the respondents based on the survey is annexed to this chapter. The relationship between education provisions and literacy are presented in Chapter 5. A socio-economic profile of the respondents based on the survey is annexed to this chapter. The relationship between education and literacy are presented in Chapter 6. The findings of the survey on uses of literacy skills and expectations about post-literacy programmes are described in Chapter 6. The findings of the survey on uses of literacy skills and expectations about post-literacy programmes are described in Chapter 7. Chapter 8 presents the summary of findings, conclusions and policy implications of the findings.

18) The book “Primary Education in Bangladesh” has been published by the Government of Bangladesh Ministry of Primary and Mass Education in November 2003.
In this book, overall situation of the Bangladeshi primary education system has been overviewed. At first, the background of primary education in Bangladesh has been discussed. A brief glance of the education system starting from the times of the British rulers till present has been taken. The various strategies that have been taken by the changing governments so far to increase enrollments and the achievements of the different Five Year Plans’ have been discussed. The major steps that have been taken so far are:
a) Enactment of Compulsory Primary Education Law in 1990.
b) Creation of a separate Primary and Mass Education Division in 1992, it was renamed Ministry of Primary and Mass Education in 2003.
c) Introduction of compulsory primary education programme in 68 upazillas in 1992 and expansion of this programme all over the country in 1993.
d) Formulation of a National Plan of Action (NPA) in the light of the Worl Conference on Education For All in 2000.
e) Successive implementations of development projects to achieve the objective of primary education.
Finally, the future plans for the primary education have been discussed. The goals for the future include:
a) Expanding and improving comprehensive early childhood care and education, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children;
b) Ensuring that by 2015 all children, with special emphasis on girl, children in difficult circumstances and from ethnic minorities have access to and complete free and compulsory primary education of good quality; etc.
In general, the book emphasizes mainly on the successes and the achievements of the Bangladeshi governments. The negative factors like dropouts and repeaters have not been given much importance; rather, the positive signs over the last few years have been highlighted.

From the literatures that have been reviewed, it can be said that most of the reports on the investigations conducted by the GOB and other NGOs’ gives an overview of the education sector. Very few initiatives have been taken to investigate the situation of dropout problems, and even fewer research works have been conducted. Although most of the reports gave a small glimpse of the dropout situation, they were done as an insignificant portion of a much larger work. Most of the recent reports on dropouts provided quantitative data on dropout rates from surveys, but qualitative data about the reasons and factors behind dropouts were lacking.

METHODOLOGY
3.1 PROFILE OF THE STUDY AREA

The area selected for investigation is a village in the Matlab thana, in the district of Chandpur. The size of the thana is 131.69 sq. kilometers. In is situated at a distance of 17 kilometers by road from the zilla sadar. There are 8 unions and 98 wards in the thana. The number of villages in the thana is 131 and there are 37590 households (as per population census 2001). The male population is 108800 persons, and the female population is 110727 persons, with a total of 219527 (as per population census 2001). The literacy rate is 12.8% for males, 33.6% for females, and the overall literacy rate is 38.16%. The important crops of this than are paddy (Boro, HYV) and potato. In total, there are 30 hats/bazaars in this village.
The village named Bakulpur under observation has an area of 176 acres. There are 170 households in the village. In general, the houses have roofs made of tin and cement, but a few houses have roofs made of straw and bamboo. There are 490 males and 506 females, with a total population of 996. The literacy rate for males is 44.4%, for females, it is 34.5% and the total literacy rate is 39.4%.

3.2 SAMPLE POPULATION OF THE STUDY

The 12 samples were selected purposefully according to their availability and consent. No statistical methods were used as this was a qualitative research. The ages of the samples were between 9 to 14 years and they dropped – out from school in last 3 years. There were 6 girls and 6 boys amongst the 12 samples.

3.3 TECHNIQUES OF DATA COLLECTION

Methodology is “a body of methods, rules, and postulates employed by a discipline; a particular procedure or set of procedures” or “the analysis of the principles or procedures of inquiry in a particular field”.
A research work is a methodical investigation into a subject in order to discover facts, to establish or revise a theory, or to develop a plan of action based on the facts discovered . It is an investigation or experimentation aimed at the discovery and interpretation of facts, revision of accepted theories or laws in the light of new facts, or practical application of such new or revised theories or laws .
The term qualitative research means any kind of research that produces findings not arrived at by means of statistical procedures or other means of quantification. It can refer to research about persons’ lives, stories, behavior, but also about organizational functioning, social movements, or interactional relationships. Some of the data may be quantified as with census data but the analysis itself is a qualitative one. A qualitative research may be generally defined as a study, which is conducted in a natural setting where the researcher, an instrument of data collection, gathers words or pictures, analyzes them inductively, focuses on the meaning of participants, and describes a process that is both expressive and persuasive in language.
Creswell (1998) defines qualitative study as:
“Qualitative research is an inquiry process of understanding based on distinct methodological traditions of inquiry that explore a social or human problem. The researcher builds a complex, holistic picture, analyzes words, report detailed views of informants, and conducts the study in a natural setting.”
Qualitative research should not be viewed as an easy substitute for a “statistical” or quantitative study. It demands a commitment to an extensive time in the field, engagement in the complex, time-consuming process of data analysis, writing of long passages, and participation in a form of social and human science research that does not have firm guidelines or specific procedures and is evolving and changing constantly.

Characteristics of a “Good” Qualitative Research
There are standards for assessing the quality of qualitative studies . The following short list of characteristics of a “good” qualitative research is presented by Creswell (1998):
• It entails Rigorous data collection: The researcher collects multiple forms of data, summarizes them adequately and spends adequate time in the field.
• The study is framed within the assumptions and characteristics of the qualitative approach to research.
• The researcher identifies, studies and employs one or more traditions of inquiry.
• The researcher starts with a single idea or problem that s/he seeks to understand, not a causal relationship of variables.
• The study involves detailed methods, a rigorous approach to data collection, data analysis, and report writing.
• The writing is so persuasive that the reader experiences “being there.”
• Data is analyzed using multiple levels of abstraction. That is, the researcher’s work is presented in a way that moves from particulars to general levels of abstraction.
• The writing is clear, engaging, and full of unexpected ideas. The story and findings become believable and realistic, accurately reflecting all the complexities that exist in real situation.

There are many valid reasons for doing qualitative research. One reason is the conviction of the researcher based upon research experience. Another reason is the nature of the research problem. Some areas of study naturally lend themselves more to qualitative methods can be used to uncover the nature of persons’ experiences with a phenomenon, like illness, religious conversion, or addiction. Qualitative methods can be used to uncover and understand what lies behind any phenomenon about which little is yet known. It can be used to gain novel and fresh slants on things about which quite a bit is already known. Also, qualitative methods can give the intricate details of phenomena that are difficult to convey with quantitative methods. Qualitative research is done by researchers in the social and behavioral sciences, as well as by practitioners in fields that concern themselves with issues related to human behavior and functioning.
There are three major components of qualitative research. First there are the data, which as mentioned can come from various sources. Interviews and observations are the most common sources. The second component of qualitative research consists of the different analytic or interpretive procedures that are used to arrive at findings or theories. These procedures include the techniques for conceptualizing data. This process, called “coding”, varies by the training, experience, and purpose of the researcher. Written and verbal reports make up the third component of qualitative research. These may be presented in scientific journals or conferences and take various forms depending upon the audience and the aspect of the findings or theory being presented. For instance, someone may present either an overview of the entire findings or an in-depth discussion of one part of the study.
Qualitative research is multimethod in focus, involving an interpretive, naturalistic approach to its subject matter. This means that qualitative researchers study things in their natural settings, attempting to make sense of, or interpret, phenomena in terms of the meanings people bring to them. Qualitative research involves the studied use and collection of a variety of empirical materials- case study, personal experience, introspective, life story, interview, observational, historical, interactional, and visual texts- that describe routine and problematic moments and meanings in individuals’ lives. Accordingly, qualitative researchers deploy a wide range of interconnected methods, hoping always to get a better fix on the subject matter at hand.
In an anthropological research, methodology of data collection depends on research topic, time, place and circumstances. To collect different types of data, more than one type of data collecting techniques can be used in a particular research.
In an anthropological research, different techniques can be applied to collect data, so the data is more authentic and which is why the acceptance of the findings of an anthropological research is increasing in comparison to other fields. The techniques that are most widely to collect data are as follows:
1. Observation and participant observation;
2. Informal interview and non structured conversational interview;
3. Genealogy;
4. Life history;
5. Use of key informant;
6. Case study method;
7. Taking photographs and audio visual recording;
8. Learning local language and use of interpreters;
9. Drawing maps and census;
10. Projection and psychological methods;
11. Semantic differential techniques;
12. Use of documents;
13. Taking field notes and use of diary;
14. Combination of different methods.

Techniques used in this research:
In this anthropological research, various data collecting techniques were used in order to gather different and authentic data. The main data collecting techniques used were
1. Participant Observation
2. In-depth Informal Interview
3. Key Informant Interview
4. Informal Group Discussion
5. Case Study
6. Taking field notes and maintaining dairy

1. Participant Observation
Participant observation is the foundation of anthropological research. According to Pelto (1994) “Participation observation is a research methodology for human studies that places the researcher in direct contact with people in everyday life settings”.
The participant observer gathers data by participating in the daily life of the group or organization he studies. He watches the people he is studying to see what situations they ordinarily meet and how they believe in them. He enters into conversation with some or all of the participants in these situations and discovers their interpretations of the events he has observed” .
Developed mainly through the disciplines of cultural anthropology and qualitative sociology, participant observation (as this method is typically called) is both an overall approach to inquiry and a data gathering method. Participant observation is to some degree an essential element of all qualitative studies. As its name reveals, participant observation demands firsthand involvement in the social world chosen for study. Immersion in the setting allows the researcher to hear, see, and begin to experience reality as the participants do. Ideally, the researcher spends a considerable amount of time in the setting, learning about daily life. This method for gathering data is basic to all qualitative studies and forces a discussion of the role or stance of the researcher as a participant observer.
“The ultimate goal of participant observation is to generate practical and theoretical truths about human life that are grounded in the realities of daily existence” .

How the researcher conducted this technique in the field:
As this research is an anthropological research, participant observation method has been used.
During the 15 days stay at the village the researcher went to the residences of the dropouts in the morning and by closely observing and participating in the various activities of village people, the researcher got an idea about the life style and culture of the people of the study area.

2. In-depth informal interview
In-depth interviewing is a data collection method relied on quite extensively by qualitative researchers. Described as, “a conversation with a purpose” , in-depth interviewing may be the overall strategy or one of several methods employed in a study. Patton categorizes interviews into three general types: the informal conversational interview, the general interview guide approach, and the standardized open-ended interview.
Typically, qualitative in-depth interviews are much more like conversations than formal events with predetermined response categories. The researcher explores a few general topics to help uncover the participant’s meaning perspective, but otherwise respects how the participant frames and structures the responses. This, in fact, is an assumption fundamental to qualitative research—the participant’s perspective on the phenomenon of interest should unfold as the participant views it, not as the researcher views it.
Interviews have particular strengths. An interview is a useful way to get large amounts of data quickly. Interviewing has limitations and weaknesses, however. Interviews involve personal interaction; cooperation is essential. Interviewees may be unwilling or uncomfortable sharing all that the interviewer hopes to explore, or they maybe unaware of recurring patterns in their lives. The interviewer may not ask questions that evoke log narratives from participants either because of a lack of skill. By the same token, responses to the questions of elements of the conversation may not be properly comprehended by the interviewer. And at times, interviewees may have good reason not to be truthful .
Interviewers should have superb listening skills and be skillful at personal interaction, question framing, and gentle probing for elaboration. Volumes of data can be obtained through interviewing, but the data are time-consuming to analyze. Finally, there is the issue of the quality of the data. When interviews are used as the sole way of gathering data, the researcher should have demonstrated through the conceptual framework that the purpose of the study is to uncover and describe the participants’ perspectives on events; that is, that the subjective view is what matters. Studies making more objective assumptions would triangulate interview data with data gathered through other methods.
General interview types include structured, semi structured, informal, and retrospective interviews. Informal interviews are the most common in ethnographic work. They seem to be casual conversations, but where structured interviews have an explicit agenda; informal interviews have a specific but implicit research agenda.
Informal interviews should be user friendly. In other words, they should be transparent to the participant after a short period of time. An informal interview is different from a conversation but it typically merges with one, forming a mixture of conversation and embedded questions. The questions typically emerge from the conversation. In some cases, they are serendipitous and result from comments by the participant. In most cases, the ethnographer has a series of questions to ask the participant and will wait for the most appropriate time to ask them during the conversation (if possible).
Informal interviews offer the most natural situations or formats for data collection and analysis. Unfortunately, some degree of contamination is always present. However skillful the interviewer, certain questions will impose an artificiality. An experienced interviewer, however, learns how to begin with non-threatening questions deeply embedded in conversation before posing highly personal and potentially threatening questions and to develop a healthy rapport before introducing sensitive topics.
According to anthropologists, “Interviewing in ethnography is by no means always non-directive. Often one may wish to test out hypothesis from the developing theory and here quite directive and specific questions may be required” .
“Ethnographers do not decide beforehand the questions they want to ask, though they may enter the interview with a list of issues to be covered nor do ethnographers restrict themselves to a single mode of questioning. On different occasions, or at different in the same interview, the approach may be non-directive, depending on the function that the questioning is intended to serve” .
In this context, the quotation of social scientist Theodore Caplow is quite fitting, “An unstructured interview has no fixed set of questions on fix wording in order of questions. This does not mean that respondents are interrogated at random. The questioning may be centered on a particular incident or topic, or it may be based on checklist of topics to be covered or on a list of questions that the interviewer modifies as he goes alone” .
Sidney Webb and Beartrice Webb has said, “It is desirable to make the interview pleasing to the persons interviewed. It should seem to him or her an agreeable form of social intercourse” .
Informal interviews seem to be the easiest to conduct. They do not involve any specific types or order of questions, and can progress much as a conversation does, following the turns of the participant’s or the questioner’s interest.

How researcher conducted this technique in the field:
In this research data was collected through semi-structured informal interviews with the dropouts, their parents and teachers. Interviews lasted from one to three hours. A checklist was used to avoid losing focus and to ensure that all relevant questions were asked. Questions were both closed and open-ended. A semi-structured questioner was used. Respondents were thus given the opportunity to express their thoughts on the topic of interest as freely as possible.
In a few cases, respondents allowed the tape recording of the interview but as all the respondents felt uneasy and nervous with it, tape recorder was occasionally used. When such recording was not possible, the researcher managed to take notes while listening to the respondent. Notes were reviewed the same day or the day after the interview, while the information concerning the case was still fresh in the mind of the researcher.

3. Key Informant Interview
During an anthropological research work, the anthropologist chiefly depends on the primary informant or key informant – with whom the researcher regularly maintains contact and receives important information. They talk to the researcher with a very cooperative attitude and they make the researcher acquainted with the social and cultural reality. When the researcher obtains data from the mass public, the key informant is the only one who assists to verify the validity of this data. They help the researcher by giving information related to his research topic. Hence, as the researcher obtains data in different stages about different topics depending on this information, he sometimes also takes the help of the key informants to verify the data collected from the mass public.

This technique is particularly useful for:
• Involving residents in organization decision-making
• Raising community awareness about health care issues
• Learning minority viewpoints
• Demonstrating to community leaders the organization’s interest in residents’ view
• Gaining a deeper understanding of opinions and perceptions
When selecting key informants, researcher should strive to get broad-based community participation with representatives from different “sectors” of a community. Breaking a community down into sectors or groups will help you identify less obvious leaders and ensure a broad range of perspectives.
According to Ridge “The identification and selection of key informants available in a community may take some time to accomplish, since your knowledge of local culture must be sufficiently advance to be able to recognize the vital status, positions and you must have established personal relationships in your work that will allow you to approach such persons for their help in the study.”
The key informant interviews should be conducted in a comfortable and quiet setting. A well-ventilated and well-lit room with two comfortable lounge chairs facing one another would be the most desirable setting.

Before taking the interview, the interviewer should:
• Warmly greet the key informant
• Offer him or her refreshments and show them where to sit
• Explain why the organization is conducting the key informant interviews
• Explain who are key informants, what is a key informant interview, and what is the general nature of the questions
• Assure the key informant of the confidentiality of the information
• Tell them how long the interview will last
• Ask if the key informant has any questions or concerns
• Address their questions and concerns
While taking the interview of the key informant, a researcher may find himself engaged in a balancing act between actively listening to the key informant and accurately recording what they say. Unfortunately, there are no set rules for maintaining this balance, and what and how much the researcher will record during the interview will probably change with each key informant. Some informants will not even notice the recording of their comments, while others will find the note-taking quite distracting. The best advice is to observe the key informant and not allow the note-taking to intrude on the interview or interfere with the flow of the conversation.
During the interview, researcher should not feel compelled to spend an equal amount of time on each question with every key informant (or focus group) or even go through the entire questionnaire at all. Often, certain key informants or focus groups have expertise in certain areas. Researcher should allow them time to fully share their insights in these areas of interest or expertise.
If the researcher feel the need to have all participants respond to each question, then question guide can be followed, and when the researcher comes to areas where the participants seem to have added insights, politely interrupts them, promise to get back to this area in a few moments, continue following the question guide until it’s completed, then go back to those areas of expertise. Make sure to allow time to go back. This is an effective method for touching on all question areas while not sacrificing quality time in areas of expertise.
Throughout each interview, researcher should listen carefully for recurring themes, issues, opinions and comments, and highlight these in notes as they are raised, for this is the main reason for conducting key informant and focus group interviews. Remember, the object is to identify and prioritize issues most important to the community, and this requires separating widely held attitudes, beliefs and perspectives from the opinions held by a few.
At the end of the interview, researcher should ask the key informant if he or she has any questions, tell them how their comments will be incorporated with comments of other key informants to ensure confidentiality, and thank them for participating. Most organizations offer to provide a copy of the final report to each key informant.
Key informants and ethnographers must share a bond of trust. Respect on both sides is earned slowly. The ethnographers must take the time to search out and spend time with these articulate individuals. The fieldworker learns to depend on the key actor’s information – particularly as cross-checks with other sources prove it to be accurate and revealing. Sometimes key actors are initially selected simply because they and the ethnographer have personality similarities or mutual interests. Ethnographers establish long-term relationships with key actors who continually provide reliable and insightful information. Key actors can be extremely effective and efficient sources of data and analysis.
At the same time, the ethnographer must judge the key actor’s information cautiously. Over-reliance on the key actor’s information can be dangerous. Every study requires multiple sources. In addition, care is necessary to ensure that key actors do not simply provide answers they think that the fieldworker wants to hear. The ethnographer can check the answers rather easily, but must stay on guard against such distortion and contamination.

How researcher conducted this technique in the field:
There were two key informants who helped during this research work. One of them was a teacher in the school from where the samples had dropped out and the other was a community member.
The key informant teacher was a male: he as one of the senior most teachers of the school, and he had been in the school since it was established in the year 1993. He provided the researcher with the list of dropouts and their addresses, and told the researcher about their backgrounds. He also provided the researcher with information about the infrastructure of the school education system and various school activities like SMC meetings, PESP distribution, etc.
The other key informant was a local well – off farmer. He helped the researcher to understand the location of the dropouts’ houses and he gave information about the perspectives of the villages regarding matters like PESP distribution and various reasons behind dropouts.

4. Informal group discussion
Informal group discussion, as a qualitative research method with a definite goal, is essentially a group discussion taking place between people of more-or-less identical age, socio-economic status, sex and other common characteristics.
Informal group discussions have been found to be very useful as a complementary technique to the collection of numerical data, especially as a means of gaining basic information to further implement quantitative research.
Since informal group discussion is a qualitative research method which encounters complex and sometimes unpredictable human behaviour patterns when gathering in-depth information, it has to follow various steps, planned well in advance of conducting actual focus group discussions.
The first step of conducting an informal group discussion is to set its objectives based on the methodological approach of the study and the nature of the program in question.
Once the objectives of conducting an informal group discussion have been carefully specified, a detailed discussion guideline should be formulated well in advance of the actual session. The guidelines should not be considered as a structured or formal questionnaire. The proposed issues of discussion and their sequential pattern should never be rigidly fixed. There must be a great flexibility in the selection of the discussion issues so that the moderator can make an instantaneous decision to cover any relevant issue which may spontaneously be raised by the participants during discussion.
The informal group discussions are usually held with people of identical age, sex and economic background. Group selection will, therefore, depend on the nature of the programme, objectives of enquiry, the target beneficiaries and personnel, including staff members of the programme. Sample groups are established by clustering the target audiences into different groups in accordance with the above criteria. The discussions are ‘focused’ on a specific, homogeneous group of people.
The number of participants should be such that they can all properly participate in the discussion and present their respective view points and also allow the discussion to remain under moderator’s control.
A three-member team is generally required for conducting a group discussion. One person will act as a facilitator, called the moderator. The other two people will act as participant rappoteurs who will document the whole discussion with a hidden agenda of helping the facilitator/moderator generate even and effective participation and helping channel discussions towards the objectives.
The researcher should tell the selected participants that the discussion is a part of an academic research study, so they need not be worried or frightened about any consequences.
During discussion, all participants should be treated equally so that they feel encouraged to present their views freely and spontaneously. It is better not to state all the main topics at the very beginning of the discussion. The discussion should start with a general topic and gradually lead to more specific items of discussion. The moderator’s function will be to raise the issues of discussion one by one and maintain a particular line of discussion. The rapporteurs shall record all common, uncommon and other expressed views.
How the researcher conducted this technique in the field:
In this research three informal group discussions were done with the drop-out children, their parents and the teachers. The group discussions were informal as the participants came willingly and they were never forced to speak. The researcher used a checklist so that the discussion does not lose it’s focus and relevant topics are discussed. There were two participant rapporteurs who helped the researcher by documented the views and opinions of the participants.
The discussion with teachers was relatively easy as they were educated. Also there were only 4 teachers in the school, so it was not difficult to conduct the discussion. The drop-out children were initially frightened as they thought the researcher is someone from the school to punish them. But after a few days they were more friendly and free to answer the questions. 8 children took part in the discussion. The group discussion with the parents was done where 7 male parents took part and all of them were of similar age and economic conditions. Although some of the participants were more active, the others agreed or disagreed with them during the discussion on various topics.
The participants were assured that this was an academic research study, so they need not be worried or frightened about any consequences. As a result the participants felt free and comfortable to express their views. The researcher mainly raised the issues according to the checklist and let the participants speak freely about the topic.

5. Case Study
Case study is a research technique in which the informant provides a wide range of information regarding a specific event. When the researcher finds any significant information regarding a specific subject, the researcher identifies it as a case study and gives its description. In brief, a case study can defined as ‘a micro representation of a macro event’.
Creswell (1998) defines a case study as an exploration of a “bounded system” or a case (or multiple cases) over time through detailed, in-depth data collection involving multiple sources of information rich in context. Some consider “the case” as an object of study (e.g., Stake, 1995) while others consider it a methodology (e.g., Merriam, 1998).

Procedures of case Study method:
• The researcher needs to situate the case in a context or setting. The setting may be a physical, social, historical, and/or economic.
• The researcher needs to identify the focus of the study. It could be either on the case (intrinsic study), because of its uniqueness, or it may be on an issue or issues (instrumental study), with the case used instrumentally to illustrate the issue. A case study could involve more than one case (collective case study).
• In choosing what case to study, a researcher may choose a case because it shows different perspectives on the problem, process, or event of interest, or it may be just an ordinary case, accessible, or unusual.
• The data collection is extensive, drawing on multiple sources of information such as observations, interviews, documents, and audio-visual materials.
• The data analysis can be either a holistic analysis of the entire case or an embedded analysis of a specific aspect of the case.
• From the data collection, a detailed description of the case is done. Themes or issues are formulated and then the researcher makes an interpretation or assertions about the case.
• When multiple cases are chosen, a typical format is to provide a detailed description of each case and themes within the case (called within-case analysis), followed by a thematic analysis across the cases (called a cross-case analysis), as well as assertions or an interpretation of the meaning of the case.
• In the final stage, the researcher reports the “lessons learned” from the case .

In choosing what case to study, a researcher may choose a case because it shows different perspectives on the problem, process, or event of interest, or it may be just an ordinary case, accessible, or unusual. The data collection is extensive, drawing on multiple sources of information such as observations, interviews, documents, and audio-visual materials.
From the data collection, a detailed description of the case is done. Themes or issues are formulated and then the researcher makes an interpretation or assertions about the case.

How researcher conducted this technique in the field:
In this research, six case studies have been taken. This 6 were chosen because they show different perspectives of the dropout problem. In-depth interview was conducted with each of the dropouts, and more time was spent for interviewing the samples selected for case study in order to collect more detailed information.
Most of the 6 cases had similar problems like poverty, lack of interest, lack of support from parents, etc. However, there were a few other cases who had problems like repetition, disqualifying from PESP, eve teasing, pressure for early marriage, distressed household, illness, etc. which were influential factors in causing them to dropout.

6. Taking field notes
Fieldwork means a lot of data collection and data analysis. And the researcher does this by taking different types of notes.
According to Hammersley and Atkinson, “Field notes are the traditional means in ethnography for recording observational data. In accordance with ethnography’s commitment to discovery, field notes consist of relatively concrete description of social processes and their contexts” .
Field notes are the brick and mortar of an ethnographic structure. These consist primarily of data from interviews and daily observation. They form an early stage of analysis during data collection and contain the raw data necessary for later, more elaborate analyses. Many field note guidelines and techniques are available to assist ethnographers. The most important rule, however, is to write the information down.
The researcher mainly writes down that information in his dairy that are related to the substantive and theoretical needs of his study.
It is said that, “Keeping a set of methodological field notes will, therefore, allow the researcher to reflexive and to engage in some form of self-analysis during the research process, a procedure that has been followed by some social anthropologists and which is to be recommended to all who engage in field research” .

How researcher conducted this technique in the field:
During the research work, the researcher interacted with many peoples, went to different places, observed various activities, and among those, the information which were relevant to the researcher’s substantive and theoretical needs were written into the researcher’s notebook. The researcher managed to take notes while listening to the respondent. Notes were reviewed the same day or the day after the interview, while the information concerning the case was still fresh in the mind of the researcher. The field notes were later arranged into a systematic way so that the researcher doesn’t loose any important information. The different answers of each respondent to the same question were quoted serially in a diary as verbatim so that the analysis of the data becomes easier.

3.4 EXPERIENCES DURING THE FIELDWORK

Every researcher comes across various experiences during the field work. This researcher was no exception. One of the main problems was that of the weather. Since it was the rainy season when the researcher started on her work, it was raining almost at all times. The constant rain made the village roads muddy, which caused transport mediums to become scarce. As a result, it became difficult for the researcher to reach the targets.
The dropouts themselves were creating many problems as well. Most of the dropouts usually escaped when they heard that someone was coming to interrogate them. They were further terrorized by flying rumours that the researcher was actually a government official in disguise, who was going to catch them and then punish them for not going to school. Thus, it was very difficult to get hold of the dropouts.
Another problem was that during the first few days of the interviewing, when the dropouts’ ware being questioned, parents and lots of other people surrounded them. This caused the dropouts to become nervous and made them reluctant to answer to any questions. Furthermore, when the dropouts ware asked a question such as ‘Did you ever miss school due to household work? (Yes) What work? If the dropout gave a positive answer, his parents were likely to shout at him and threaten him to beat him when the interview was over. As a result, the dropouts were forced to give biased answers to many questions out of fear.
At the time of this research, many dropouts had already migrated to bigger cities in search of work. So, it became a problem to bring the incidence of child labour into focus.
Apart from the problems, there were some happy incidents as well. The people were very cooperative and helped the researcher very much. The school teachers answered all her questions patiently and checked and verified many old school records to find out the name of dropouts. It was quite difficult to find the houses of the dropouts since the researcher was an outsider. However, it would have been more difficult if the village people had not helped. They eagerly helped the researcher by giving detailed description of the locations of the dropouts’ houses. The local people also answered all of the researchers’ questions with patience. Thus, it was quite enjoyable working in such a cooperative environment.
When the dropouts were interrogated, they were given small gifts and chocolates, candies, biscuits, etc. The dropouts were delighted receiving them.
This was researcher’s first fieldwork in a village. The village was very green and beautiful and it was altogether a nice experience working in that village.

CHAPTER 4:
PRIMARY EDUCATION IN BANGLADESH

4.1 DEFINITION OF LITERACY

There has been a continuing debate on what constitutes literacy and how to define it. A UNESCO definition, “to read and write a simple statement on everyday life,” (UNESCO 1993) is popular but is not satisfactory to many. Paulo Freire, the Brazilian educator, viewed literacy as a process of “conscientization” which involves, in his words “reading the world” rather than just reading the “word” (Freire and Macedo 1987). A variety of definitions for literacy have been formulated and used by different countries at different times. Most have recognized in varying degree the functional and instrumental character of literacy in people’s life, going beyond the mechanics of “decoding” alphabet.
In fact, there is no one UNESCO definition or one that has gained common acceptance, because a meaningful and useful definition of literacy has to be specified to its social and cultural context. As early as in 1965, the World Conference of Ministers of Education on Eradication of Illiteracy held in Teheran concluded that:
Rather than an end in itself, literacy should be regarded as a way of preparing man [and woman] for a social, civic and economic role that goes far beyond the limits of rudimentary literacy training consisting merely in the teaching of reading and writing. The very process of learning to read and write should be made an opportunity for acquiring information that can immediately be used to improve living standards; reading and writing should lead not only to elementary general knowledge but to training for work, increased productivity, a greater participation in civil life and a better understanding of the surrounding world, and should ultimately open the way to basic human culture (UNESCO and UNDP 1976).
In the 1970s, the concept of “lifelong learning” got currency and was discussed at different forums. The UNESCO-appointed Faure committee Report of 1972 entitled Learning to Be made a passionate appeal to all nations of the world to reorganize their educational structures on two basic premises: first, that a learning society is one in which all agencies within a society become providers of education, and second, that all citizens should be engaged in learning, taking full advantage of the opportunities provided by the learning society (Faure 1972). Further impetus to the idea was provided in 1996 with the report by Delors et al, Learning the Treasure Within. Pronouncing the four pillars of education in the 21st century be learning to know, learning to do, learning to be, and learning to live together the Delors Report laid strong emphasis on renewal of knowledge, skills and learning abilities of individuals to adapt to the new environment. The report advocated the acquisition of a sound general education, learning throughout life, acting creatively in and on one’s own environment, acquiring occupational skills, and also moves broadly, being able to face rapid social change and work in teams (Delors et al 1996).
A number of statements from different sources, cited in the report of the Cambodian literacy assessment, shed light on the variations and nuances in the meanings of literacy and the characteristics of a literate person.
(Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports 2000)

1. Literacy is a characteristic acquired by individuals in varying degrees from just above none to an indeterminate upper level. Some individuals are more literate or less literate than others, but it is really not possible to speak of literate and illiterate persons as two distinct categories (UNESCO 1957, cited in Oxenham 1980).
2. A person is functionally literate when [s]/he has acquired the essential knowledge and skills which enable him [or her] to engage in all those activities in which literacy is required for effective functioning in his [or her] group and community, and whose attainments in reading, writing and arithmetic make it possible for him [or her] to continue to use these skills towards his [or her] own and the community’s development (UNESCO 19620, cited in Oxenham 1980).
3. The concepts ‘functional literacy’ and functional illiteracy’ were introduced to distinguish the higher-order level of abilities that separate those who are barely able to read and write (‘functional illiterates’) from those who function effectively in community, and at home (‘functional literates”) (OECD 1992).
4. Effective literacy is intrinsically purposeful, flexible and dynamic and involves the integration of speaking, listening and critical thinking with reading and writing (Dawkins 1991).
5. What we call ‘writing’ need not always be defined by the Gutenberg tradition of script on paper which has been reproduced by the printing press. In a broader sense, writing is definable as any sort of meaningful inscription, and in the case of Aboriginal Australian (for example) this would include sand printings and drawings….body markings, printings as well as engravings on bark or stone (Davis et al 1990)
6. The very notion of literacy has evolved; in addition to reading and writing and numeracy skills, people now also require technological and computer literacy, environmental literacy, and social competence. Educational institutions have a major role in preventing the social and economic exclusion, and cultural alienation, that can result from a lack of appropriate skills (OECD 1996).
7. Literacy is part of the process by which illiterate people become aware of their personal situation – and learn to do something about improving it. Learning to read, write and count are steps towards achieving political, economic, cultural and human rights. This, in turn, enables people who learn to read to play a role in making their world a better place to live. Although literacy may not be the great panacea that leads to happiness and wealth, it could lead to change in the way power is distributed in society (Paolo Freire, cited in UNESCO 1991).
8. A person is literate who can with understanding both read and write a short simple statement on his everyday life (UNESCO 1995).

(Source: Literacy in Bangladesh Need for a New Vision – Education Watch 2002)

4.2 BACKGROUND OF PRIMARY EDUCATION IN BANGLADESH

Through history, Bangladesh has gone through various phases of education systems. From the time of the British rule to the Pakistani regime and finally the Bangladeshi system, education has evolved not only in methods but also in fundamental aspects like language and governance.
UNDER THE BRITISH REGIME
From ancient times through the middle ages, the indigenous education system was predominant in the Indian subcontinent. The general population was completely alienated from what we can refer to as primary education. It was the British who modernized the education system.
The Wood’s Education Despatch of 1854 was a significant example of the efforts to the modernization of education by the British rulers in Bengal. According to its guidelines, a Department of Public Instruction was created in 1855-56. Several posts were created, with the highest rank of Director of Public Instruction. The Despatch also encouraged initiatives to establish private institutions.
Lord Kurzon also took some initiatives to expand primary education. In 1910, Gopal Krishna Gokhale passed a bill in the Law Council making primary education compulsory. The bill was rejected in 1912, but in 1912, a bill making primary education compulsory in the Municipal areas was passed.
With the provision of limited autonomy in the Indian Book Act of 1921, Bengal (Rural) Primary Education Act was enacted in 1930. For over a decade after this, there was hardly any follow up action. Under this act, District School Boards were set up to control, direct and manage the dissemination of education, to reach ultimately the goal of universal, compulsory and free education. Although primary education was controlled, directed and managed by the Director of Public Instruction, and the schools were inspected by the District, Subdivisions or Circle Offices (comprising one or more Thanas/Upazillas) the direct administrative responsibility laid solely with the Zilla (District) School Boards.
The Sergeant commission Report (1944), for the development of education was published after the Second World War. It was the first report to recognize pre-primary education. As the British rule ended in 1947, the Sergeant Commission Report remained unimplemented.
THE PAKISTAN PERIOD (1947-1971)
Soon after the partition of India, at the National Education Conference in 1947, a resolution to make education universal, compulsory and free was put forward. In 1957, the Government abolished the District School Boards and the management, control and administration of primary education were handed over to the District Primary Education Office. The former District Inspectors of Schools were appointed as Chief Executives of the office under the aegis of the deputy Commissioners.
The Bengal (Rural) Primary Education Act was amended in 1951. In order to make primary education compulsory, The Government then undertook an experiment to make primary education compulsory. In the selected unions, 5000 primary schools were selected to be run as “Compulsory Primary Schools”, and the rest were to operate as “Non-compulsory Primary Schools”. Primary education was made a five year course in the year 1952, before which it was a four year course.
As a result of the segmentation of the primary schools into “compulsory primary schools” and “non-compulsory primary schools”, dissatisfaction spread amongst the teachers. The Government, therefore, in 1957 renamed the 5000 Compulsory Primary Schools in the unions as “Model Primary Schools” and the rest as “Non-Model Primary Schools”. The Headmasters of the Model Schools could inspect and supervise the Non-Model schools.
In the First Five-Year Plan, universal access to education was given emphasis. The first Education Commission was set up in 1959. This Commission recommended that within the next fifteen years, primary education should be an eight year course, and liberal promotion on the basis of age should be introduced. In the Second and Third Five Year Plans, there were increased allocations for the development of primary education sub-sector to enhance facilities in the schools and to provide for increased student enrollment.
A section of parents, students, teachers, and educational authorities did not like the categorization of “Non-Model”, and the practice of inspection and supervision of the activities of Non-Model School Headmasters by the Model School Headmasters. In 1965, the government collectively termed Model and Non-Model Schools as “Managed Free Primary Schools”. Under that scheme, all the primary schools were brought under one administration and the teachers received pay and allowances according to their qualifications.
THE BANGLADESH PERIOD (1971-PRESENT)
This period has started after the liberation of war of 1971. Soon after independence, primary education was written as a national responsibility of the state in the constitution. The process started in the last decade of the twentieth century. The changing status in five successive five-year plans can be noticed but the beginnings are to be traced back to the articles 15 and 17 of the Constitution (1972) and the clear recommendations of the Education Commission’s Report, 1974. Both these documents made primary education the responsibility of the government. In 1974, true to the provisions of the Constitution, the government issued a ‘Decree of Nationalisation’ of all 36,165 primary schools in the country. This was truly a landmark in the history of education. Since then, with every successive five-year plan, the allocation for primary education has increased steadily, both in the revenue and development parts of the annual budget. There are now an almost equal number of primary schools in the private sector; most of them in the rural areas, that enjoy considerable financial support of the government, short of full adoption as government institutions. Urban schools with a leaning toward English but complying generally with the curriculum nationally adopted does not as a rule depend on state support. There still remain a vast number of children of the school-going age who are out of school. A parallel stream of non-formal education, under the management of NGOs, has come into the picture in recent years. Also, international funding agencies the world Bank, Asian Development Bank, UNICEF and others have now emerged in Bangladesh as major partners in primary education. The list now includes IDA, DGIS, SIDA, NOFAD, UNDP, IOB, EU (EEC), OPEC, Saudi Arabia, Japan and Germany.
One factor that has contributed to the new importance being given to and the enhanced status being enjoyed by the sector is the international commitment to it. Bangladesh is committed to the goals set in the World Conference on Education for All held in Jomtein, Thailand in March 1990 and the World Summit on Children held in New York in September 1990. Bangladesh is also committed to implement the Summit Declaration on Education for All of Nine High Population Developing Countries held in Delhi in December 1993.
From 1947 onward, the main problem with primary education has been its tardy growth. At that point of time, for one village with a primary school there were four without any. Most of these schools were poorly housed; teachers were, most of them, poorly trained, and invariably poorly paid. The uphill task of lifting this whole sector to a reasonable level of efficiency rested with the government. But resources, when it came to education, especially primary education, were always scanty. From 1947 to 1972, that is the time when Bangladesh emerged as a truly independent country, primary education and the level of literacy of the country were both stuck in a state of prolonged stupor.
The new phase starting in 1972/73 with the governmentalization of over 36,000 schools did not produce miracles in terms of universalization of basic education. But the objective came to be better defined, with the publication of the Education Commission report of 1974. New strategies were proposed for achieving the goal of universal primary education. The Primary Education Act of 1981 made provisions for the establishment of Local Educational Authorities at the sub-divisional level. The move unfortunately proved abortive, mainly due to political uncertainty. Next, in 1990 came the Compulsory Primary Education Act. It empowered the government to undertake legal and administrative measures to implement the purposes of the CPE Act. After this, something like a concerted campaign has been initiated for eradication of illiteracy under projects that have brought the government and many development partners on the same platform. These projects comprehend both formal and non-formal primary education, the NGOs playing a significant role in the non-formal sector. It has been claimed officially that literacy rate now is somewhere between 50 and 60 percent. Also, as a result of the literacy drive initiated by district administrations, a number of districts have emerged, at least officially, as fully literate ones.

4.3 CURRENT SITUATIONS OF PRIMARY EDUCATION IN BANGLADESH

The education system in Bangladesh is characterised by co-existence of three separate streams. The mainstream happens to be a vernacular based secular education system carried over from the colonial past. There also exists a separate religious system of education. Finally, based on use of English as the medium of instruction, another stream of education, modelled after the British education system, using the same curriculum, has rapidly grown in the metropolitan cities of Bangladesh.
However diverse the above streams may apparently look, they have certain common elements, and there exists scope for re-integration of graduates of one stream with the other at different levels.
The mainstream primary education system in Bangladesh is structured as follows: –
a. One or two year pre-primary education imparted in private schools/kindergartens, and informally in government primary schools for six months.
b. Five-year compulsory primary education for the 6-10 year age group, imparted mainly in government and non-government primary schools. In metropolitan cities, however, government and non-government primary schools cater to the educational needs only of the poorer sections of the people, as the better-off families usually send their children to Private English Medium schools/ secondary schools that run primary sections as well. There, however, exist a substantial number of NGO run non-formal schools catering mainly for the drop- outs of the government and non-government primary schools. Very few NGOs however impart education for the full 5-year primary education cycle. Because of that, on completion of their 2-3 year non-formal primary education in NGO run schools, students normally re-enter into government/ non-government primary schools at higher classes. NGO run schools differ from other non-government private schools. While the private schools operate like private enterprises often guided by commercial interests, NGO schools operate mainly in areas not served either by the government or private schools essentially to meet the educational needs of vulnerable groups in the society. They usually follow an informal approach to suit the special needs of children from the vulnerable groups.
According to statistical data, enrollment increased from 12.6 million in 1991 to 18.4 million in 1998. While the number of government primary schools remained unchanged at 38,000, no. of non-government primary schools increased from 12,000 to 26,000 over this period with 23,000 already receiving government recognition. The sharp increase in non-government schools has been primarily in response to meeting unmet needs for primary education, in the wake of enactment of Compulsory Primary Education Act in 1990 as local communities organised their own schools. NGOs also played an active role in promoting education in poor villages without schools.
The Fifth Five Year Plan (1997-2002) that accorded highest priority to primary education set a target of achieving gross enrolment rate of 110 percent, and net enrolment rate of 95 percent by the year 2002 ( Planning Commission, 1998). A nation wide survey conducted by CAMPE in 1998 revealed that although high level of gross enrolment rate had already been achieved (107 percent for both sexes-109 percent for girls and 104 percent for boys), net enrolment rate stood much behind, at 77 percent only (78.6 percent for girls and 75.5 percent for boys). Thus, in 1998, 23 percent of children, 6-10 years of age, did not have access to primary education. Marked regional variation in net enrolment rate was observed. With 82.6 percent net enrolment rate Khulna led while Chittagong lagged far behind with 74 percent (CAMPE-UPL, 1999). Net enrolment rate for slum children of Dhaka city was found to be only around 60 percent-considerably lower compared even to their rural counterparts (UNICEF 1998).
Enrollment rates varied significantly by socio-economic groups as well. A sizeable number of children from very poor households were never enrolled in primary schools, and many of those enrolled dropped out before completing the full five year cycle as their families depended on child labour for survival. Although there has been some reduction in drop out rate from 38 percent in 1995 to 35 percent in 1998, (Planning Commission, 2000) it still remains considerably high, and needless to mention that drop out rate is significantly higher amongst children from poorer households. According to the Primary Education Statistics in Bangladesh-2002, the dropout rate was found to be 32%. However, in another survey, the Education Watch National Literacy Survey 2002 states that the dropout rate was 50.3%. So, it is found that different surveys gave contradictory results.
In order to improve the access of children of poorer households to primary education, and also for reducing the drop out rate amongst them, in 1993-94, an innovative scheme called the Food for Education Programme that provides up to 15 kilograms of wheat to land less very poor households for sending their children regularly to schools was introduced in 460 economically and educationally backward Unions . By 1999-2000, its coverage expanded to 17403 schools in 1247 Unions benefiting 2.3 million students belonging to 2.2 million households (GOB, 2001). In the remaining 3208 Unions a stipend programme for students from the poorer households was introduced in April, 2000. Under this programme, the poorest 40 percent students are provided with a stipend valued at Tk. 25 per month. In FY 2000-2001, the programme benefited 3.2 million students at a cost of Tk. 1420 million.
The drop out rate came down to 35% in 1999. Repeater rate however remained quite high, at 38 percent. That means, on the average, a child needed 6.6 years to complete the 5-year primary education cycle. Attendance rate at 62 percent could hardly be called satisfactory.
Significant improvement in ‘quantity’ as indicated by increased enrolment rate, and reduced drop out rate were not however matched by improvement in ‘quality’. The objective of primary education being development of basic competencies i.e. learning (language and numeracy) and life skills (including values and attitude) amongst children so as to enable them effectively pursue further education/active and productive life in society, in order to throw light on quality of education received by children passing through the primary education they were assessed for basic competencies. The CAMPE Survey found that in 1998 only 29 percent of children could satisfy the minimum levels in all four competency areas, viz. reading, writing, numeracy, and life skills/knowledge. Compared to 27 percent in 1993, the above finding no doubt indicates to some improvement in the quality of primary education, but it still remained at a deplorably low level.
The CAMPE Survey found considerable regional variation in learning achievement, and also by gender, rural-urban residence, and type of schools. Boys performed better than girls. Children from urban areas did better than their rural counterparts. The level of basic education was the highest in Khulna, and lowest in Chittagong. Students studying in the primary section of secondary schools showed the best performance. It was also observed that with increase in the level of education, and economic status of parents that allowed access to private coaching and different types of communication, students’ performance directly varied.
The CAMPE Survey also found that although there has been some improvement in learning achievement of primary students over the period 1993-98, such improvement was confined to rural areas only as a declining trend was observed in the urban areas.
Limited number of contact hours-daily school time of 120 minutes for classes I- II, and 240 minutes for classes III-V; high student-teacher ratios increasing over time due to surge in enrolment; over crowding of class rooms; and poor motivation of teachers burdened with many non-academic and non school responsibilities assigned to them encroaching upon their limited school hours are some of the recognised causes of poor quality of primary education in Bangladesh.

4.4 BARRIERS OF PRIMARY EDUCATION

The major constraints to achieving universal primary education have been classified by the Government of Bangladesh as follows:
1. Physical constraints
• Want of school within accessible distances,
• Shortage of classrooms and overcrowding,
• Shortage of teachers particularly female teachers,
• Lack of proper teaching and learning aids,
• Shortage of furniture, fittings, other school supplies,
• Lack of playgrounds, water supply, satisfactory toilet facilities, particularly for girls,
• Lack of equipments and supplies for the students, especially proper clothes for girls.

2. Other constraints
• Lack of motivation, discipline and professional skill of teachers,
• Weak community involvement and lack of awareness and interest of parents, prejudices,
• Unattractive teaching/learning environment,
• Insufficient improvement in content, quality and relevance of education,
• Wastages, irregularities and inefficiency,
• Inadequacies in supervision and management,
• Poverty, poor health and nutrition and lack of preparedness for schooling and learning by students.

(Source: Education for All: National Plan of Action – Government of Bangladesh)
The different barriers to primary education as identified by the non-governmental organizations and researchers are as follows:

1. Lack of physical facilities
• The scarcity of classrooms is an acute problem for a large number of schools and is one of the major causes for operating schools on a staggered system.
• Furniture is inadequate in about one-third of schools. However, if student attendance were as it should be, the lack of furniture would pose a serious problem to two-thirds of schools.
• Almost all schools (96 percent) had toilet facilities but about one-half were found to be unclean or out of order.
• The majority of schools had sources of potable water. But one-fourth was found to be non-functioning due to lack of maintenance. The same was true for playgrounds.

2. Geographical factors
• A distance of more than 2km of the school from home was found to prevent female participation in primary education.
• During the rainy season, student attendance became very low.

3. Health
• Many rural children school hungry and this adversely affects their performance. The malnutrition of girls, their lower resistance to disease and their higher mortality rate are also obvious causes of concern.

4. Availability of Educational Materials
• Many schools in the survey (66 of 150), did no receive textbooks on time while many schools, mostly RNGPS (Registered Non Government Primary Schools), did not receive adequate numbers of books.
• The vast majority of schools do not possess the required teaching aids, and only a few have a limited number of teaching aids. There is a crisis of educational materials in schools. This is a serious problem in the RNGPS.
• The supply of Teachers’ Guides and educational materials from the system is neither regular nor even.

5. Human Resource Inputs
• The number of teachers in almost all schools is less than the number of grades/sections.
• The proportion of female teachers is less than male teachers in GPS and far less in RNGPS.
• Because of high student absenteeism, the teacher-student ratio calculated on the basis of daily attendance of children is favourable. However, if children attended regularly, the ratio would be very high.
• Field-lever officials visit the easily accessible schools most frequently, leaving others unvisited or seldom visited. Teachers are seldom provided professional assistance to improve their teaching during official visits.

6. Community Participation
• Although all schools have an SMC, SMC members participate in the developmental activities of the schools and provide material support in only 15% of the schools. Most SMC members confine themselves to attending SMC meetings and holding discussions.
• A few schools communicate with parents regularly, some do so occasionally, while others neither communicate with parents nor involve their community in school affairs.

7. Enrollment and Attendance of Children
• The average enrollment in GPS is considerably higher than in RNGPS. The average class size in GPS is considerably larger than that of RNGPS.
• The attendance rate of children is alarmingly low, In many schools, there is a tendency among teachers to mark more children present than are actually there.

8. Teacher’s Qualifications
• There exists inequality in teacher’s qualifications, academic and professional, in both GPS and RNGPS. The vast majority of the GPS teachers are trained while most RNGPS teachers are untrained.
• Teaching was not the first choice as a profession for a significant number of teachers, so many lack motivations.

9. Rewards and Punishment
• Giving corporal punishment, scolding children publicly and using demoralizing language are practiced in a considerable number of schools.

10. Teachers’ Qualities
• Some teachers are routinely irregular, and a good number are often late.
• An overwhelming majority of both RNGPS and GPS teachers were found to be unprofessional. They did not have a list of competencies for the subjects they teach or even lesson plans for their work. In addition, they did not correct the home task khata (copy books) of the children.

11. The Teacher-Student Relationship
• Quite a few teachers are warm, sympathetic and approachable. A considerable number, though, are neither warn nor unkind but are quite impassive. Others appear indifferent, practically ignoring the children.
12. Perceptions of Parents and Communities
• Some parents do not consider their schools safe and secure places for their children, while the majority thinks otherwise.

13. Educational Materials in the Classroom
• A serviceable chalkboard is available in one-half of the schools. The remainder either does not have a chalkboard or have an unusable one.
• Nearly all of the children in most of the schools had notebooks and pencils/pens with them. In some schools, a number of children did not have these materials.

14. Children in the Classroom
• The majority of children in the vast majority of the schools are lively, enthusiastic, neat and clean, and respectful of their teachers. A very few are timid or subdued. Some are in poor health, and some are short for their age.
• The majority of the children in some schools appeared to be attentive to the lessons, while the majorities in other schools were not attentive. To a large extent, student attentiveness depends upon the performance of their teachers.

15. Teachers in the Classroom
• Most of the teachers attend school with acceptable dress and keep themselves clean and neat. Their movement in the class is natural.
• Most of the teachers are behave politely with their students but some are terrifying to the children.
• The voice of the vast majority of the teachers is audible and normal. That of some teachers is feeble and inaudible. A few shout loudly.
• A few teachers encourage and motivate children whenever necessary; a few do so occasionally. The majority are oblivious to this need.

16. Curriculum Delivery
• The delivery of curriculum is a serious problem. There exists a wide gap between the curriculum itself and curriculum practice. The great majority of the teachers do not follow pre-specified competencies in presenting their lessons.

17. Involvement of Children in the Learning Process
• One-third of GPS and one-half of RNGPS teachers do not provide any scope for children to participate in the teaching-learning process. Others give scope to some children but this is limited to responding to questions, explaining pictures, or writing answers to quizzes. Learning through doing is completely absent; children are not involved in any creative or innovative activity.

18. Use of Teaching Aids and Chalkboard
• An insignificant number of teachers use teaching aids and illustrations. A few use them occasionally, but the majority does not.
• A few teachers use chalkboards at appropriate times. The majority seldom use them. Some teachers do not use chalkboards at all.

19. Use of the Question and the Answer Method
• The majority of the teachers ask the children to answer questions. But only a few of them do this routinely. The teachers ask direct, conventional, content-based questions.

20. Relating Lessons to Life Experiences
• The majority of teachers do not draw examples from the life experiences of the learners, do not relate lessons to real-life situations and confine themselves to the content provided in the text book.

21. Emphasis on Rote Memorization
• A good proportion of GPS and the vast majority of RNGPS teachers stress rote memorization even when concept formation strategies are necessary.

22. Diagnosis of Children’s Problems
• Only a few teachers try to diagnose the children’s problems and explain them carefully if they do not understand. Children are seldom given feedback on their performance.

23. Recognition of Children’s Views
• Except for a very few teachers, most do not provide any scope for children to express opinion on topics or issues during discussion.

24. The Classroom Environment
• The classroom environment in many schools is often dull. It is somewhat cordial, pleasant, and joyful in only about one-third of the classrooms ─ but not necessarily stimulating.

25. Assessment
• The vast majority of the teachers conduct formative assessment of their children through oral quizzes. About three-fourths use written quizzes in class. Most of the quizzes are content based and traditional in nature. About one-fourth of GPS and one-half of RNGPS children seemed not to have understood the lessons and cannot, therefore, be expected to achieve the intended competencies.

26. Homework
• The majority of the teachers give homework. A few discuss mistakes from the previous days work. Some teachers put their signature on the homework exercise books without checking and identifying mistakes.

27. Achievement of Pupils
• Within each division there is a wide range in the achievement of schools in each subject. A few schools performed relatively well on the tests while others performed quite poorly. The exception was mathematics achievement, which was quite poor for all divisions.
• Every school can be described by measuring its status on four factors: teaching and learning processes, school learning climate, enabling conditions, and supporting inputs from outside the school. These measurements can be used to show the differences among the schools’ qualities. These factors are related to how well a school achieves the goal of students learning the curriculum competencies. Teaching and learning processes and school climate are the factors most strongly related to achievement.
• The GPS are uniformly superior to the RNGPS in fifth-grade student achievement outcomes. Both types of schools did equally poorly in mathematics achievement.

28. Interactions of the C-H Factors with Achievement
• The multiple correlation of all factors and their interactions with achievement is 0.63, which is moderated. The C-H factors can explain about 41% of the variation in achievement among schools.

(Source: Primary Education in Bangladesh Findings of the PSPMP: 2000 –
Asian Development Bank)

Comparing the findings of the government with those of the NGO operated research works, it seems that there were many factors in the report of NGO operated investigations that were absent in the GOB report. The GOB reports emphasized mainly on their achievements like the increase in enrollment rates, completion rates, etc. Though the completion rates and retention rates have increased, they may be also be a consequence of the increase in population, which causes a consequent increase in the number of students. So in reality, the increase in completion and retention rates cannot be considered as huge successes. More importantly, despite the incentives taken by the government, the dropout rate always remained at a constant rate of about around 30%. If a child drops out from grade 2 or 3, he cannot be called literate because he would not be able to read simple sentences or do basic mathematics. So, the dropout rates command more importance as UPE cannot be achieved if dropouts persist.
The reports by the NGO operated investigations included many factors influencing dropout rates which were overlooked by the GOB reports. Some of those factors include the absence of an able leader for the teachers, lack of patronization towards extraordinarily gifted students, the irrelevance of the education curriculum from real-life experiences, etc. So these are some issues which the government needs to acknowledge.

MAJOR FINDINGS OF THE STUDY

5.1 AN INTRODUCTION TO THE DROPOUT PROBLEM

A dropout can be defined as a child who enrolls in school but fails to complete the relevant level of the education cycle (Dropout Problems in Primary Education – Some Case Studies, UNESCO, 1984). According to Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 2002, a dropout is somebody who fails to complete an educational course, usually at a college or school. A dropout can also be termed as a pupil who was enrolled in the beginning of the school year and has left before the end of the school year, and was not enrolled elsewhere (UNESCO Institute for Statistics, November 2004).
By reviewing the previous reports that have been conducted on the primary school dropouts of Bangladesh, it can be said that, in general dropouts come from very poor households. Most of the parents of dropouts are illiterate, so they are unaware and do not understand the value of education. Usually, dropouts come from large families with few earning members, so the earnings or the labour of the dropout are important for the survival of the family. Mainly, the opportunity costs, direct and indirect costs of schooling, poor performance in school, unsupportive school environment, etc. are the reasons behind dropouts in primary schools in Bangladesh.

Findings of the study:
According to the findings of this study, the major reasons causing dropouts are poverty, lack of awareness, socio-cultural reasons, poor quality of education, etc. Some of the basic information about the dropouts has been given in the following table.
The following table illustrates the factors that affected the number of sample dropouts:
Although primary education is free, there are opportunity costs, direct costs and hidden/indirect costs of schooling which the poor families cannot afford. The opportunity costs of schooling include chore time, sibling care and foregone earnings of children. Most of the male samples helped their fathers in farming and while rowing boats, while the other female samples helped in household work. Dropouts who came from large families with low income had to do wage work to support the family. The hidden costs of schooling like clothes, pens, papers, etc. were also influential factors in causing the children to leave school.
The school environment, teachers’ attitude towards students, etc. are major factors that affect dropout rates. Usually, teachers are sincere and treat the students equally, but some teachers favour their private students so sometimes, the students felt frustrated and were reluctant to go to class. The classrooms in the school had to accommodate more students than their capacity so it was very difficult for all the students to understand what the teacher during a class. The lack of education materials and late distribution of books also caused problems in studying.
All of the 12 samples, their parents and many teachers agreed that to pass, one have to go for private tuitions. Since the classes are overcrowded, it is impossible for all the students to follow the teacher’s lecture, so the weak students have to go the teachers for private tuitions to study. If one fails to pass, he gets dropped from the PESP receivers’ list, so mostly the students who receive private tuitions are able to pass, and continue to receive PESP money. Some parents also complained that those who go to the teachers for private tuitions, they are able to get away with any forms of irregularities.
To get money from PESP, a student has to have an attendance rate of 85% or more and to acquire 40% marks in the exams, but most parents and students were unaware of these rules, and they blamed the teachers directly if their child got disqualified from the PESP receivers’ list. It was found during the research that getting disqualified from receiving stipend caused the student to drop out of school in some cases.
Another barrier was parental attitude and lack of support. Most of the parents are illiterate and so they cannot help their children in studying and does not understand the various rules of school. As a child ages both the direct and opportunity costs (for boys in the labour market and girls in the marriage market) increase, and the parents often withdraw the children due to these factors. There are other reasons like malnutrition, fatigue due to labour, illness, lack of role model etc were also seen in this study.

5.2 ECONOMIC REASONS

The economic status of a family is a crucial factor which decides whether they will send their children to school, and if they do that, whether their children will be able to continue it or not. Bangladesh ranks as one of the poorest countries in the world, with a GDP per capita of $350. The poor account for about 50 percent of Bangladesh’s total population, and 37 percent are counted among the “hard-core” poor, who live in the direst circumstances.
All of the 12 dropouts belong to very poor families. The fathers of 7 samples are agricultural labourers (bodli/kamla) and works for daily wages. As agricultural work opportunities are seasonal, at other times they pull rickshaws, catch fish for selling, or row boats to earn a living. Their monthly income ranges from Tk. 1200 to 2000. 7 samples had more than 1 earning members in their family. The average incomes of these families vary from Tk. 2000 to 3000 per month. 2 of the samples are orphans, their mothers work as domestic helpers in rich households and earn about Tk. 300 to 1000 per month.
Amongst the 12 samples, only one family had 3 members while the rest of the families had 5 to 9 members. None of the families of the 12 samples possess any agricultural land. Apart from the houses, the other assets were radio (3 families), goats (3 families), cow (1 family), and boat (2 families). Although primary education is known to be free, there are direct costs, hidden costs and opportunity costs of schooling which the poor families cannot afford.

Direct costs
Although primary education is declared as tuition-free, there are many direct costs like exam fees, enrollment fee; certain amount from the stipend money is also taken for various reasons. These expenses become a big problem for the poor households and it influences dropping out. Although the teachers said that education was totally free, the parents and the children said they had to pay an enrollment fee of taka 50, then there was an exam fee of taka 30 to 20, to receive new books they paid 5 to 15 taka according to the grade. Moreover, 20 taka was subtracted from the stipend money of each month. These costs were a cause of many parents annoyance.
The sad factor is that most of the parents did not know that these fees were not meant to be taken. They all thought that this was the rule. As they do not know their rights, they can never claim it.

Hidden costs
Hidden costs of schooling are clothes, pen and paper, note books, etc. all of the 12 samples and their parents said that buying clothes, pen and papers was a huge problem for them. All of the parents said that as they are poor people, these extra costs of schooling are unbearable to them. Almost all of 12 dropouts have missed school frequently due to failure in obtaining these articles. They feared that they will be punished if they go to school without pen or paper. Teachers said that children who come to school without pen or paper cause a lot of trouble because they are unable to do any class work and disturb the other students. So they are given punishment.
Clothes were another problem for the parents, especially for a girl. The school does not have any uniform but the children had to wear decent clothing. The parents of the girls said that a decent dress costs at least Tk. 60 to 100 which they cannot afford. All of the parents of the 12 dropouts said that they bought clothes, pens and papers with stipend money. But the problem with the stipend is that the money is given after 3 months and they spend the money in no time at all. Therefore, it becomes difficult for the parents to spend money on pen and paper.
A female parent (widow) said that once during her daughter’s exam, she could not buy the necessary pen, paper, etc. So, she was forced to beg some rice from different households and sold them for cash so that she could buy the required things.
To most of the parents these hidden costs are a big trouble and in fact the decision about children leaving the school has been largely influenced by this reason. All of the parents said that if school/ government supplied uniform/ clothes, pens, papers, etc., then that would be a big help.

Opportunity costs
The opportunity costs of schooling include chore time, sibling care and foregone earnings of children. The opportunity costs of educating children are higher in poor families because these families rely more on each member to contribute to the family’s economic survival.
Opportunity cost was an important reason behind leaving school in the case of 9 samples, who said that they often missed classes because of various household works. All of the 6 male samples helped their fathers in the field at different times of agricultural cycles.
The chief cultivated crops in the village were rice, potato, and chilli. From December to April the absence and dropout rates are higher because different jobs like the collecting of baby plant from the nursery, removing of weeds, cultivation of rice seeds, make soil loose and friable etc were done by all male samples. The boys who worked in the agricultural field worked in two phases. For working in the morning from 8AM to 1PM, they received 1 meal and 50 to 70 taka and for working from 2PM to 5PM, they are given 30 taka. In the rainy season a some of the male samples helped their fathers in boat rowing.
Girls and women are the unpaid household labourers. All of the 6 female samples’ labour in the household is an economic necessity because it frees others to earn outside. All of them had to do important works like collecting water and firewood, washing utensils, helping in cooking and taking care of siblings. Because of these reasons, parents were reluctant to spare their daughters for schooling.
Dropouts who belonged to large families, less earning members and unstable income due to illness of earning members had to do wage work for cash. All of the female samples told that they had worked in rich households as domestic helps when their family needed cash or could not afford a satisfactory meal.
The chart below shows the regular and occasional household works for students.
The above table shows the range of the earnings of drop-out children’s families. The income amount is unstable and fluctuates according to the seasons and job availability. All of the households of the samples owned less than 0.5 acres of land.
It is difficult for poor families to afford the opportunity cost of schooling because the contribution of their child’s labour at household work or earning is essential at certain times for the survival of their families. As a result, it causes poor attendance rate. This affects dropout as the school terms clash with the agricultural cycle and those who miss school over several weeks drop behind, teachers withdraw their books and they are disqualified for stipend, as a result, they ultimately abandon school.

5.3 INABILITY TO AFFORD PRIVATE TUTION

All the 12 samples and their parents have mentioned that the inability to afford private tuition as a major cause for leaving school. At the beginning, this factor had not been given much importance, but later on, the factor of private tuition was found to be a very influential one. Only 3 of the fathers and 2 of the mothers have had previous schooling experiences. Sadly, none of them remembers anything anymore due to lack of practice. As a result, none of the parents can give any effective help to their children in their studies. Hence these parents have regarded the need of going to private tuitions as a very urgent one.
A parent said in this matter, “The teachers always complained that my child had not completed his homework, but what they did not understand was that since my child did not receive any help at home, he failed to do the difficult subjects. On the other hand, in the class, even if he didn’t understand something, he was scared to ask
the teacher anything for the fear of being scolded. As a result, he got unsatisfactory results in his exams and thus left school.”
Another parent said, “My child did not understand mathematics and English well. Since no member of the family was literate, he received no help from his family. Had he received private tuitions, he would have passed his exams, but it was beyond my reach.”
All the parents agreed that if the teachers had taught the students well in the class, then the parents would not have to spend extra money to send their children for private tuitions. The parents even said that the teachers do this deliberately to earn money. The students who receive private coaching get promoted to the next class regardless of their results, so they do not get dropped from the PESP receiver’s list. As a result, only the children from rich families are able to continue their studies.
And also, the students who study in private get their new books earlier than the rest of the students.
On the other hand, the teachers said that since all the students do not have the same level of intellect or learning ability, it is unjustified to expect that all the students can do everything with the same efficiency. The teachers also said that they try their level best to teach the students properly, and whenever the serious and enthusiastic students inquire about anything, they answer their questions and try to make them understand even if they have to repeat the same thing again and again. However, the students who are not interested in learning do not ask any questions and when they are asked whether they had understood something, they say yes. In such a case, what will the teachers’ do?
All the teachers’ admitted the importance of private tuitions. They said that since there are many students in one class, it is difficult to take care of every student. However during private lessons, more attention can be given towards each individual student. So, they learn things more easily and do well in their exams.
One of the teachers said, “I understand that poor students cannot receive private lessons, but had they been serious, I would have given them some extra time after classes. But the weaker students avoid studying and they never admit that they do not understand something.”
The teachers said that since they do not receive salaries for months and months, it becomes impossible for them to run their household without the money from the tuitions. They think that it is natural for students who receive private tuitions to do well in the exams. In this case, those students do not need any illegal help. The teachers also think that it becomes difficult for children of illiterate parents to do well in studies because they do not get any help from their family members.
The students also think that it is essential for them to receive private lessons. Of the 12 samples, 8 think that the factor of not receiving private coaching is one of the reasons behind leaving school. They think that the teachers do not give as much effort in school as they give in their private lessons. 4 of the samples complained that the students who receive private lessons from teachers get different types of illegal benefits from them. One sample said that one of their classmates was the son of an SMC member. He was not very good in his studies and was irregular in school. But the teachers never told him anything and since he received private tuitions from the teachers, he never faced any problems. The sample also said that the boy got suggestions about the school exam questions from his private teacher which was a major factor leading to his good performance in the exams. The boy also got his stipend regularly and received his textbook earlier than the other students.
All of the samples said with sorrow that the rules for receiving stipend were to be maintained strictly only for the poor students, although, the poor need the money more. The 7 samples who were not receiving stipend at the time of leaving school said that the regulations on the basis of which they were dropped were much loosened in the case of those students who received private tuitions. All of the 7 samples think that had they gone to the teachers for private coaching, then they would not have been dropped from the PESP receiver’s list.
The 12 samples emphasized on other point which was the good behaviour of the teachers with their private students. For example, they are not usually asked anything and if they fail to answer any question, they are not scolded. If these students are absent from school for a long time, the teachers have a sympathetic attitude towards them, whereas they (the samples) are scolded and dropped from the PESP receiver’s list.
Therefore according to the samples and their parent reactions, going to a private tutor is not only related to receiving textbooks early but it also influences their not getting dropped from the PESP receiver’s list.
Also, the good behaviour of the teachers with their private students in contrasts to the discriminating behaviour with the other students become a cause of dissatisfaction and frustrations for many students, which is why parents and the students feel that the receiving of private tuitions is so much essential.

5.4 UNSUPPORTIVE SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT

School environment has a huge impact on students mind. Factors like classroom environment, teachers’ attitude and support plays an important role in a student’s continuation of school. Children do not understand the importance of education immediately and if a child does not find the school environment friendly or supportive, then he may stop going to school no matter how hard his parents want him to go to school. This was the case for 3 samples whose parents were interested to send them back to school but the children would not. When these 3 children were asked the reason of not going to school, they were very reluctant to answer and all of them kept saying the same thing- I don’t like school (school bhalo lagena).
The parents of these 3 boys complained that they do not want to go to school and during school time they leave home saying that they are going to school but instead they play football in the field or play with kites. When the parents knew about it they were very angry and they tried everything from beating to accompanying them to school, but this didn’t work as because it was not possible for them to keep an eye on the children all the time. According to one parent – ‘it must be something in school that my son does not like. I think he does not understand the lesson and therefore he is scared to go to school‘.
So the researcher asked the 3 boys what it was that they did not like about school and the answers were similar. They said about not understanding the lessons at all, especially English and maths. They were afraid of teachers and the punishments, which were obvious if they did not prepare the lessons. While talking about school they looked unhappy and annoyed. When the researcher tried to tell them about the importance of going to school and so whether they have any intention to go back to school, the boys stayed silent. One boy told the researcher that- “I don’t want to be educated; I will learn some other work instead. I don’t want to go to school to get punishment and because of that everyone called me a fool”.
All the other samples also hated the punishments. They were so afraid of the punishments that all of them missed school whenever they didn’t prepare the lessons, had no pen and paper or tore the books etc.
Physical Facilities:
The school consists of a medium sized playground. A toilet and a tube well is also inside the school but the lack of maintenance in all the aspects were clearly visible. The school building is made of bricks and does not have any electricity connection.
The school has playing facilities and the students have not complained about it. The girls, especially the older girls avoided going to the toilet because it was at a distance from the school and was near the front of the school gates. So, they felt embarrassed to go to the toilet in front of everyone. As a result, they missed school for at least 4/5 days during their menstruation.

a) Teacher’s attitude and support
The students have not complained much about the attitude of the teachers or their teaching skills. If they fail to prepare their studies, their teachers will beat them; they do not like it but they regard this as a normal thing. The children said that the teachers were sincere in teaching them but since maths and English seemed tough, they could not understand them well.
Some of the samples reported that the teachers favoured their private students. For example during the class period teachers gave a lot of attention to their private students. They were asked many times whether they have understood the lesson and they were given punishments rarely. These discriminations were frustrating to a lot of students and one of them said- “they (teachers) would have behaved the same with us if we could take private tuition from them, but as we are poor we cannot afford it.”
The teachers on the other hand were very unhappy with the students and their parents. The teachers said that the children do not learn any manner from their families and they talk and shout in the class all the time. Their parents send them to school just because they need the stipend money but they do not care about their children’s education at all. According to the teachers there is no point trying very hard to teach them because they are not interested to learn.
The teachers were very frustrated and extremely unhappy about their salary which is very low and which they receive very irregularly. One of the teacher said- “My family spent a lot of money for my education with the hope that I’ll earn enough to help them in future and now after all the hard work what do I get – a life of a poor man? There is no chance that my situation will be better in future, I have stopped hoping.”
Another teacher said- “Why should we shout our lung out for these disinterested children, what do we get for it? I have to relay on private tuitions money to run my family and no one understands our situation.”
The teachers agreed that they started their job with hope and enthusiasm but now nothing is left of it.

b) Classroom crowding
The school classrooms are suitable for accommodating about 40 students. Class 1 and 2 have 70 to 80 students which causes problems for both the students and the teachers. The teachers said that they had to shout continuously for else the children sitting at the back would not be able to hear anything. The students said that they could not hear or understand anything if they sat at the back of the classroom. Usually 3 students sat in one bench but when the presence of students was high, 4 to 5 children sat in one bench.
This problem of classroom crowding was worse in the summer time because it is very hot and there is no electricity connection in the school. All of the samples said that it was tiring in summer season and they could not concentrate well in the class.

c) Lack of education material
The lack of educational material has been mentioned by both the students and the teachers. All of the 12 samples have reported the problem of buying books and pens in due time. All of the samples said that they were given punishments if they did not take pen and paper in school and that is why they preferred staying absent when they did not have these things. On the other hand, the teachers have said that without books and pens, the students are not able to do any class work and they disturb the class. So these children are given punishments sometimes.
All of the 12 samples have said that they have received books after much delay. The teachers also said that they never received textbooks at the start of the year. The books come in 4 to 5 installments, creating many problems in distribution. In this case, changes in syllabus causes many problems. The teachers have complained that the students and their parents are unaware, so they tear their textbooks, that is why if students are absent for a long time, they take the books back.

5.5 POOR QUALITY OF EDUCATION

One of the most important issues regarding primary education is the quality of education. It is very important that a child who enrolled in a school learns to read and write properly but often it is not the case and with drop-out children, the learning achievements are so low that a lot of them can be declared as illiterates.
There are three major subjects in primary level which are Bengali, English and mathematics. Class 4 and 5 has two more subjects, science and social science (Shamajik Biggyian). Out of the twelve samples, only 4 can be called literate as they can read Bengali to some extent but even they get stuck with the joint letters. All of these 4 can read some simple words and sentences in English but has no clear idea about the meaning of them. All of the 12 samples can do simple additions, subtraction, but only those 4 children managed to do division and multiplication. 3 children who dropped out early were almost as bad as illiterates because they could not read a sentence in Bengali or English.
To get promotion to the next class, a student must pass in any two of the three subjects among Bengali, English and mathematics in the annual examination. The teachers said that they try their level best to enable a student to pass in their exams so that they can receive stipends. One of the teachers said that – “We(the teachers) try to promote poor children out of sympathy because they need the stipend money but we all realize that some of them doesn’t really deserves it as they haven’t learn anything”.
The quality of education is concerned with various factors like teacher’s skill-motivation, students’ eagerness to learn, results and class performance of the students, education curriculum etc.

Teacher’s skill and motivation:
All 4 of the school teachers said that nothing is left of the enthusiasm and hope with which they started their jobs. Since they are employees of a registered school, they get lesser salaries than the government schools (Tk. 1950) and they do not even get their salaries regularly. So to survive, these teachers have to give private tuitions or find other alternative source of income. But since maximum people of the village are poor, many students cannot be found for private tuition. Thus, the teachers have to live a substandard life.
The teachers said that since they have many problems of their own, and as the students are unenthusiastic in studying, the teaching becomes tiring and meaningless. The teachers have to work very hard to teach English and Mathematics. The teachers reported that while teaching English, at first, the students are taught rhymes, and then alphabets are taught. As a result, the students cannot understand anything. In this context, a teacher said that “When I recite twinkle, twinkle little star, the children stare at me blankly and they think what is all this our teacher is saying”.

Students’ eagerness to learn
3 of the samples did not have any interest in going to school. All of the 6 girls had more interest in learning than the boys. In the English classes, none of the children could understand anything and they felt irritated and intimidated. 8 of the samples said that during classes they felt hungry, sleepy and tired. This is because they could not eat adequate food and often did different tiring work at home.
5 of the samples think education does not have any importance in their lives and these samples are very young ones. They felt especially bored while studying English because they could not understand anything and felt that it was unnecessary for them.
The teachers said that the students do not have much interest in learning and they cannot understand anything easily. The teachers feel that the attitude of the parents is one of the main reasons for that; because the parents do not give any importance to education and therefore they are not concerned about whether their children are learning anything or not.
The parents reported that after leaving school, 4 of the samples were angry and cried as well. These 4 children were the better students and wanted to continue school. 5 of the samples did not show any reaction and 3 of them were quite happy.

Students’ results and class performance
6 of the samples did not fail in annual exams but have failed many times in English and Mathematics. Among the rest 3 samples were repeaters as they failed in the annual exams. 5 samples had failed in exams and did not go back to school fearing to study in the same class again. The matter of repetition is very annoying to parents and this contributes a lot to dropping out from school. The parents say that if one cannot pass in the exams, it is useless to go to school and if this continues then it will take more then 5 years. They do not have the financial backup to send their children to school for more than a year in the same class. And also if a student fails, he is disqualified from the stipend program.

Non appealing education curriculum:
Education curriculum has an important role to play in order to increase learning achievements. From the discussions with drop-out children it was clear that the text books were not very appealing to them, apart from the Bengali and social science text books were they found some familiar things. English and mathematics text books were very hard to them and they disliked these subjects. The samples said that they liked the rhymes and the pictures in the books. Unfortunately there was no interesting or innovative initiative which could create some sort of interest amongst the students. One of the teachers said that –“while teaching the students addition and subtraction in the beginning of my job, I used some objects to make it easier to understand. Some times I drew pictures on the black board but now I just don’t have the energy or temperament for all this. What do I get for all my hard works and efforts? Living life in poverty and struggle took away my spirit for my job.”
The drop-out children and their parents did not complain about the teachers’ skill or effort in teaching. This is possibly because the illiterate parents have no idea about it and also the children never experienced anything better. However the most striking discovery was that the children couldn’t give any clear answer when they were asked about the importance of education curriculum and how they are being benefited by it.
Then the samples were asked to tell the researcher whether their school experience or knowledge have helped them in anyway in their lives, at first they all say that yes it is helping us a lot in our lives and education is very important etc. But after a few visits, the samples were more free and comfortable with the researcher and then a lot of them contradicted with their previous statements and said that actually there is nothing very useful in the school text books. Even though they liked some of the things in the books, it was clear that the school curriculum was largely alien to their direct needs.

5.6 DISQUALIFYING FOR PESP

In order to qualify for the stipend, selected pupils must maintain 85 percent monthly attendance and attain a minimum of 50 percent marks on the annual exam administered for each grade. To continue to participate in the program, a school must demonstrate at least 60 percent pupil attendance, and 10 percent of its grade 5 pupils must sit for the Primary School Scholarship Exam.
After PESP has been introduced, the enrolment rates have certainly increased but the information obtained during this research work states that most of the parents and students do not know the rules for qualifying for PESP. Most of them think that if poor children are enrolled in school, they will receive PESP. 9 of the parents enrolled their children to school because they thought that their children would receive money. Later, when their children got disqualified for PESP, it influenced their decision of not sending their children to school.
Due to various reasons, students from the poor households are the most irregular ones. The reason for absenteeism is primarily due to the inability to pay for school expenses and/or the need to work either at home or outside the home. However, in some of the cases, reasons behind absenteeism were temporary or chronic illness, disinclination for schooling, bad weather, flooding, etc.
During the rainy season the attendance was low as the roads were muddy and slippery and transportation was unavailable. During the bad whether some of them stayed absent as they didn’t want to damage their clothes. Two of the samples said that they had only two clothes, of which one was torn so they wore it in the house and the other one they wore in the school. They remained absent if the better cloth was wet as they couldn’t were the other one.
The direct and opportunity costs of schooling, cultural constraints and prejudices, and special needs of vulnerable children—prevent these children from going to school.
Although primary education is declared as tuition-free, there are many direct costs like exam fees, enrolment fee etc and with this there are many indirect costs like pen, papers, clothes etc. Though the stipend money was a help to some extent to the poor families, it was distributed after 3 months and during that time whenever the family couldn’t afford the necessary equipments, the children remained absent. Although the stipend receivers said that they bought pen, papers, clothes etc, they also said they still missed school whenever they couldn’t manage them as they were given punishments.
Another reason for low attendance of the students was the opportunity cost of the child. Students frequently remained absent during different times of agricultural cycles as their labour was needed by their family. In the rainy seasons some of the boys helped their father in boat rowing so they stayed absent and because of this, they were dropped from the stipend receivers list.
The students and parents were not properly aware of the rule that in order to receive stipend one must have an attendance rate of 85% or more. They all said that to receive PESP, one has to be regular in school. Also, another rule for receiving PESP is to achieve at least 50% number, but few of the students could say anything about this clearly. All of the samples and their parents strongly believe that since they are poor, they eligible to receive stipend because rich people can incur for the cost of sending their children to school.
The parents expressed their annoyance about the rules of receiving PESP. They said that if this scholarship has been introduced for the benefit of poor students, then this should be distributed prior to their advantage. According to them, the rule of at least 85% attendance rate and 50% marks was just an excuse to deprive the poor of their rights. A parent said in this context – “In the rainy season, it is a big advantage if someone helps to row the boat. So, I did not send my son to school regularly in the rainy season. As a result, he was dropped from the PESP receiver’s list. As a result I couldn’t purchase his books, pens or clothes and he had to leave school. The teachers should understand that the poor need the money more desperately, so this cannot be a rule.”
Another parent said – “During harvest period, there were many works in the house and as well as in the field, so I did not send my children to school. Consequently, my daughter failed in the exams. As a result, she was dropped from the PESP receiver’s list. This is very unfair because it can be seen that only the children of the rich people will receive stipend. This is because since the children of richer people do not have to work at home, they can attend school regularly and on the other hand, they can attain private lessons by using the money they get from stipend, so they can pass in the exams. Then how can the poor receive stipend?”
All of the parents complained that the teachers showed biasness while distributing stipends. According to them, the students who take private tuitions from the teachers and the children of the rich and powerful people receive stipend even if they are irregular or have failed in exams. One of the parents said with anger that the strictness of rules happens only for the poor.
On the other hand, the teachers accused the parents of being ignorant and greedy. The teachers also said that they (the parents) were fools. The teachers said that when PESP was first introduced, everybody received stipend, but now nobody wants to abide with the rules.
A teacher said with much annoyance – “You see, ever since the introduction of PESP, the matter of receiving education has become unimportant because the parents and students are mainly focused on receiving the money.”
Another teacher said that dropping out from the PESP receiver’s list is one of the main reasons for dropping out from school. Many of the dropouts have enrolled themselves in schools of nearby places so that they can receive money. Not only that, some parents even enrol their children in 2-3 schools at once to receive more money.
All the teachers said that the parents who send their children to school for money do not care about their child’s school performance. As a result, when their children are left out from the PESP receiver’s list, they come to school and create a very awkward situation. They directly accuse the teacher’s of being thieves and they further insult the teachers by saying bad things.
The teacher said with sadness that the job of distributing PESP is very tedious and time consuming, but after all this hard work, they only get the accusations of parents whose children have disqualified for PESP.

5.7 SOCIO–CULTURAL REASONS

Socio-cultural norms indirectly create pressure in achieving education, especially in the case of a girl child. The inhabitants of the village in which the research has been conducted were largely muslims. During the stay at the village, it was seen that mainly the women of the rich families maintain ‘Parda’ and wear borkhas when they go outside. The women of the poorer families have to work outside to earn a living and so they do not maintain parda strictly. Married women cover their head when going outside. After a girl’s menstruation, her parents become reluctant to send their daughter outside the house. This attitude is mainly because of the widespread fear of violent and sexual assault upon females. If a girl is violated then it will be a personal tragedy and it will also create an economical problem as the prospects of marriage will be damaged. Therefore the parents of daughters, especially poorer families always remain concerned about their daughter’s safety. For this reason, the practice of early marriage is still very much widespread in this village. The girls who are comparatively healthier to their age or have a fairer skin are likely to get married earlier because their parents remain worried about their safety and are desperate to give marriage to their daughters as quickly as possible.

a) Parental attitude and support
The parents of only 5 of the samples have had previous schooling experiences and they are also school dropouts. Out of the 12 dropouts’ parents, only 7 could tell anything about their children’s school performances. The mothers have sometimes inquired about their children’s studies. 8 of the samples have reported that their mothers and/ or elder brothers or sisters have encouraged them to go to school and to concentrate in their studies. But none of the 12 samples have received any effective help from any of their family members. Since the parents are themselves uneducated, they have not been able to help their children in their studies.
None of the parents of the 12 samples had admitted their children at school in the hope of making them highly educated because they knew that they were poor and higher education was far beyond their reaches. One male parent said –“I’ve sent my son to school for education and I hoped that someday he’ll be a well educated man and get a job… but this is just a hope, just like we all hope for better days in future. Reality is very hard and I know that I cannot possibly continue his study.”
8 of the parents are not interested in sending their children to school again in the future. 5 of the samples are currently earning a living and one is searching for a job. The parents of these children are not thinking about sending their children to school again. One of them said – “Yes I know that education is important but my earning is not enough to run my family and so I had to send my son to work. Now he can eat 3 meals a day properly but going to school did not bring any rice.”
When parents were asked if they thought education is important for the future of their children and if so for whom? At first all of the parents said that girls and boys both need education and that it is very important and that they don’t discriminate at all amongst their children. But later when other questions like what are your future plans for your son and daughter asked, then all of the parents said that boys should get priority in receiving education because the boys have to run the family in the future. On the other hand, since the parents have to give marriage to their daughters and have to account for dowry and other costs, they think that the education of girls is unprofitable. Those girls whose age is more than 12 years, their parents are eager to give marriage to them, especially the girls who have lost their fathers.
Most of the parents agreed that if they were in a better economic situation then they would definitely send their daughters to finish education. One male parent explained to the researcher like this- “look sister you are studying in a university because your father can afford it and he will not discriminate between you and your brother. After finishing your study you can get a job because it’s available in cities. But in a village it is not so easy for a girl.

b) Gender discrimination
Both direct and hidden costs lead parents to favour the education of boys rather than girls that is if any of their children are to attend school. The pressures of poverty are extreme and, given the patrilocal system obtaining, investment in a girl’s schooling tends to be seen as a loss since any benefit would accrue to her husband’s family. Furthermore, in advance of marriage, the girl’s labour would be needed at home in traditional female roles. If school is attended then direct costs arise in respect of such aspects as books and other materials, appropriate clothing, and transportation by water in the severe rainy season.
In rural areas girls’ labour in the home and on the farm is an economic necessity because it frees others to earn outside, and is valuable to the mother in terms of coping with a 5.00 am – 10.00 pm day of “life-long invisible work”. Girls and women are unpaid family labourers. The collection of water and firewood are heavy jobs and recent more intensive cropping by men has led to more post-harvest work for women. Many mothers cannot spare their daughters for schooling. Wage-work for cash is also essential to the survival of the family of the 2 female samples. It also affects drop-out as the school terms clash with the agricultural cycles and those who miss school over several weeks drop behind, despair and ultimately abandon school.
Traditional outside jobs for girls and women such as rice-milling are declining because of mechanization and even in low socio-economic groups men prefer women to take on jobs which can be done at home.
The pressure for early marriage was seen in the village where the research has been conducted. We have also asked them to identify the number students who got married in last two years. The reasons of early marriage are:
• If parents find a suitable and appropriate groom for their girl
• If the in-laws claim little or no dowry
• If a student has an affair with someone (because in rural areas it is still socially unaccepted)
• If someone reported their daughter is talking intimately with some men/boy
• If parents die (mainly father) suddenly or became seriously ill
• Incidence of eve teasing with their daughters
• If girl is spoiling due to bad association
2 of the female samples dropped out as they were teased by the local boys on their way to school. These girls left school as the prospect of their marriage will be damaged if this continues. Another girl had 2 elder sisters, both of them dropped out from primary school long ago and their father is desperate to get them married. For this a lot of money will be needed and in this situation he couldn’t afford the various cost of schooling of his third daughter as she was dropped from the PESP.
c) Community attitude and support
The people of this village are very pious and they think that school education is the trend of the new age. They think that receiving religious lessons is more important since it will help them in the afterlife. Maximum people think that it is foolish for children of poor people to receive higher education because there are no such job opportunities for them, and the people who have no certainty of their day meal will obviously send their children to work and earn money to run the family, this is reality.
After the menstruation of a girl, her mother doesn’t want her to go to school. Two of the sample girls have mentioned the problem of eve teasing. Both the girls were fatherless and as a result of eve teasing, their mothers were much worried for them. Their mothers said that society is not at all sympathetic to a fatherless girl; instead they’re always very cruel. The mothers also think that no one will stand beside them if they wanted to protest and if a girl is violated then she is often considered responsible for it. Lot of other community women agreed that in a rape case the victim often gets the punishment. This factor has largely influenced them to drop out from school. As one of the girls’ mother said that –‘I cannot take the risk; these boys can do harm to my daughter and also because of the eve teasing my daughter will have a bad reputation and this will create problems in her marriage.’

5.8 LACK OF AWARENESS

“Education maybe useful for the rich people but these things are not for the poor.”
– one parent
Most of the samples and their parents agreed with the sentence quoted above. During the first stage of questioning, everybody said enthusiastically about the importance of education but later on, their real attitude towards education came out. At first, everyone said that education is very important, without it, life is meaningless, etc. but when they were asked why they stopped their children from going to school, they gave many excuses and ultimately said that actually, it is not very profitable for the poor to receive education because they cannot continue studying for long. And also, there are not many opportunities for the poor to complete their studies and then get a decent job.
When the researcher tried to explain to them the importance of education, on of the parents said, “Well, I understand the importance of education, but you cannot study if you are starving. To survive, you must eat food first, everything else come next”. But according to the children most of the parents, especially mothers generally gave enough encouragement and show adequate enthusiasm towards the education of their children. Drop-outs felt that their parents by and large understand the importance of education. Some children also said that students discontinue schools not due to parent’s lack of aspiration to education but mostly due to poverty and lack of awareness.
All of the parents argued that if one cannot get decent jobs even if he is literate, then what is the use of being educated? The effort given behind education has totally been wasted. The minimum requirements for a job are to pass in SSC or HSC exams, which are not only a lengthy process, but also a very costly one. The poor parents said that they do not have the economic stability to continue the education of their children for 10 to 15 years. As the boys have to run the house in the future, they must go to work. On the other hand, the girls have to be given marriage, which is a very costly enterprise. In such a situation, it is a luxury for the poor families to send their children to school for 10 to 15 years.
Parental education also plays a large role in determining children’s schooling and employment. Parents who are educated are more likely to understand the importance of schooling from their own personal experience and are more likely to send their children to school. For example, research found that personal education, especially a mother’s education, was an important determinant of school enrollment in Philippine households (King and Lillard 1987). Further a study in Nepal found that literate women were more likely to help their children with their homework than non-literate women (Bown 1990). Educated mothers also provide positive reinforcement of their daughters’ educational and occupational aspirations (Bach et al. 1985). Literacy also instils a sense of empowerment to those who hold it.
The few parents of the samples, who have had previous schooling experiences said that they have not been greatly profited due to going to school because to remember how to read, one must read regularly, but in their cases, lack of practice have caused them to forget a lot of the things they had learnt. Besides this, even if one did not go to school, he must know mathematics to do simple calculations. Everyone learns this type of calculations from daily experiences, so it is not very important to learn this at school.
The parents of 9 samples said that they had sent their children to school knowing that stipend money will be given to the poor children and 6 parents said that they had stopped their children from going to school because they had been dropped from the PESP receiver’s list. 8 of the parents could not say anything clearly about the rules for receiving stipend. They all blamed the teachers for disqualifying their children. All of the parents said that stipend money is supposed to be given to the poor students but if they make such difficult rule to obtain it, then how can they receive it?
All of the parents said that 20 taka is being taken by the teachers from the stipend money, and none of the parents knew that it is not meant to be taken. Most of them said that this is the rule, except for some of the parents and the community members who said that this was the expense of the arrangements of tea and snacks of the teachers and officials who brought the stipend money. Yet they also thought that this was a legal rule.
The same type of lack of awareness was seen in the case of other extra charges that are being taken by school. Five to twenty taka is being taken for various reasons such as exam fees, for receiving text books etc and the parents and the community members did not know that this was not a rule.
The illiteracy and lack of awareness of these parents and children was the main reason for not knowing their rights and therefore not to claim it. Most of these people do not have a clear understanding of the importance and the need of education, they don’t understand the rules of receiving stipend and therefore they also do not understand anything when their children disqualify for stipend. Most importantly the parents and the children do not understand that the stipend money and all the other incentives that government has taken are because the main purpose behind all this is to facilitate the learning achievements and retention of the students.
The main problem of the illiterate people does not have any clear concept and prospects of education. They took the opportunities like enrolling children in school for stipend, but could not continue it as receiving education was not their main target. Therefore, when their children were dropped from the stipend receivers list as they did not fulfil the criteria of the programme, the parents withdrew their children.

5.9 OTHER REASONS

There were few other factors that influenced the major reasons behind drop-out.
For example poor diet which causes malnutrition of the children affected their performance in the school. Numerous studies demonstrate that malnutrition, even with no clinical signs, affects intelligence and academic performance. Students with the lowest amount of protein in their diet had the lowest achievement scores, and those with iron deficiency demonstrated shortened attention span, irritability, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. Even moderate under nutrition (inadequate or suboptimal nutrient intakes) can have lasting effects and compromise cognitive development and school performance.
Most part of the daily meal of the drop-out children contained carbohydrate. Pulse and seasonal vegetables were taken regularly but fish or meat was taken occasionally and as a result they all suffered from certain extent of malnutrition. The samples told that usually they went to school after eating rice, rice crisps, banana, molasses etc and 7 of the children said that very often they had to take insufficient food and as they all suffered from short term hunger they felt hungry in the class, they felt tired and sleepy in the class. All of these children said they found it hard to concentrate in the study.
This factor contributed to the lack of energy, eagerness and concentration of the students. Children who went to school hungry said that they felt sleepy and hungry and this adversely affected their performance.
The school of the research area did not have any FFE programme and many of the parents of the drop-out children said it will be good for them if government resumes FFE programme again.
Another reason which influenced lack of concentration and eagerness of students in the class is fatigue due to labour. Most of the girls did regular household works like sweeping and dusting floor, look after young sibs, cooking, cleaning dishes, washing clothes, fetching water etc. Two of the girls worked as substitutes of their mother whenever their mother was ill. Some of the boys helped their father in the field during various agricultural cycles and in the rainy seasons two of the boys helped their father in rowing boat.
Due to the labour, and as these children do not take sufficient and balance diet, they all felt tired and sleepy in the class and failed to concentrate in the lesson. So it was seen that the economic factors influences the performance of the students which affects the overall quality of education.
Another interesting finding was that most of drop-out children did not have any role model or future plan. They had to think very hard when they were asked that what they want to become in future. Most of them looked like this is the first time they had to think about it. The youngest two boys said they want to become football player or carpenter. Two of the girl said they want to do job, but they could not define what type of job they want. Most of the dropouts do not know what they can expect from future. The working dropout children have accepted their situation sadly as they understand that reality is hard. They also realize that they will have to remain what they are now unless some miracles happen and their economic situation is improved.

INTER AND INTRA LINKAGES BETWEEN VARIOUS FACTORS

Drop-out problem is not caused by any single reason, in fact, a whole lot of different factors work behind it. These factors are also inter-related to each other and therefore
one factor influences many other factors. For example, poverty has inter-linkages with many other factors that influences drop-out like quality of education, parental attitude etc. Poverty also has intra linkages with facts like direct cost, indirect cost and opportunity cost of schooling, early pressure for marriage.
As poverty is one of the major reasons behind drop-out, it has various linkages with most of the other problems. Although primary education is declared as tuition-free, there are many direct costs like exam fees, enrollment fee; certain amount from the stipend money is also taken for various reasons. These expenses become a big problem for the poor households and it influences dropping out because when survival is the issue, things like education is less important. Another problem was the hidden costs of schooling that are clothes, pen and paper, etc. all of the 12 samples and their parents said that buying clothes, pen and papers was a huge problem for them. All of the parents said that as they are poor people, these extra costs of schooling are unbearable to them. Almost all of 12 dropouts have missed school frequently due to failure in obtaining these articles. They feared that they will be punished if they go to school without pen or paper. Teachers said that children who come to school without pen or paper cause a lot of trouble because they are unable to do any class work and disturb the other students. So they are given punishment.
The opportunity costs of schooling include chore time, sibling care and foregone earnings of children. The opportunity costs of educating children are higher in poor families because these families rely more on each member to contribute to the family’s economic survival.
Girls and women are the unpaid household labourers. All of the 6 female samples’ labour in the household is an economic necessity because it frees others to earn outside. All of them had to do important works like collecting water and firewood, washing utensils, helping in cooking and taking care of siblings.
Dropouts who belonged to large families, less earning members and unstable income due to illness of earning members had to do wage work for cash. All of the female samples told that they had worked in rich households as domestic helps when their family needed cash or could not afford a satisfactory meal.
It is difficult for poor families to afford the opportunity cost of schooling because the contribution of their child’s labour at household work or earning is essential at certain times for the survival of their families. All of these direct, hidden and opportunity costs are intra-linked with poverty, which causes poor attendance rate. This encourages dropping-out as the school terms clash with the agricultural cycle and those who miss school over several weeks drop behind, teachers withdraw their books and they are disqualified for stipend, as a result, they ultimately abandon school.
Poverty is interlinked with quality of education as poor families cannot afford private tuitions for their children. Apart from a few parents most of them were illiterate and they could not give any effective help to their children in their studies. Hence these parents have regarded the need of going to private tuitions as a very urgent one. All the samples agreed that students who took private tuitions performs in the class and does well in exams.
All the parents agreed that if the teachers had taught the students well in the class, then the parents would not have to spend extra money to send their children for private tuitions. The parents even said that the teachers do this deliberately to earn money. The students who receive private coaching get promoted to the next class regardless of their results, so they do not get dropped from the PESP receiver’s list. As a result, only the children from solvent families are able to continue their studies.
Dropping out due to disqualifying for PESP have been observed in this research amongst those households who sent their children to school after hearing about the PESP. During harvest period, there are many works to be done, so a lot of the children do not go to school. Consequently, many of them fail in the exams as they fail to catch up with the class due to absence. As a result, they get dropped from the PESP receiver’s list. So again the economic factors affect the situation because it can be seen that only the children of the well to do families can receive stipend. This is because since the children of solvent people do not have to work at home, they can attend school regularly and on the other hand, they can attain private lessons by using the money they get from stipend, so they can pass in the exams.

Poverty is interlinked to students’ eagerness to learn. As the drop-out children belonged to the poor households they all suffered from certain extent of malnutrition. The samples told that usually they went to school after eating rice, rice crisps, banana, molasses etc and 7 of the children said that very often they had to take insufficient food and so they felt hungry in the class. Some of the children had to do household works and they felt tired and sleepy in the class. All of these children said they found it hard to concentrate in the study. So the eagerness and motivation of the children of the poor households are affected by their economic condition.
The following diagram shows how child labour causes dropouts.
Diagram 4: Inter-linkages of teachers’ performance and dropping out
The irregular and low salary of teachers influences their motivation to teach and forces them to depend on alternative income sources like private tuition. As a result they are obligated to favour their private students which create frustration amongst the other students. These children found school unfriendly and unfair. They become reluctant to attend school and as a result they miss classes and this causes poor performance in exams. All of these factors contributes to disqualifying from stipend program and finally leads to drop-out.
Societal reasons are also found to be affecting drop-out of children, especially girls. The people of this village are very pious and they think that school education is the trend of the new age. They think that receiving religious lessons is more important since it will help them in the afterlife. Maximum people think that it is foolish for children of poor people to receive higher education because there are no such job opportunities for them, and the people who have no certainty of their day meal will obviously send their children to work and earn money to run the family, this is reality. Pressure for early marriage is also present as most of the community members agreed that this the safest option for the parents. Incidents of eve teasing were seen and sadly the societal pressure was on the girl as she will earn a bad reputation and her prospect of marriage will be ruined.
These types of societal pressures are interlinked with unsupportive parental attitudes, because all parents and especially the poor parents do not have much of a say in the society and they are the most vulnerable ones. So the parents of a girl child prefer marriage over education as that is safest option and also this is what the society expects them to do. So all of these different factors are interlinked with each other which affects dropping out of children.
IMPACTS OF PESP

7.1 BACKGROUND OF PESP

The most notable among the incentive programs undertaken by the government at the primary level were the Food for Education Program (FFE) and the Primary Educational Stipend Program (PESP). The FFE Program was launched in 1993 to increase the enrollment, persistence, and attendance rates of children from landless and very poor families. Forty percent of the children enrolled in primary schools in the targeted poor areas received a monthly allocation of wheat or rice for their family if they attended primary school regularly. To be eligible for receiving the food, the children were to be present at school for 85 percent of classes each month. A sliding scale increased the amount if more than one child per family attended school. Ultimately, the FFE was implemented in 1255 unions, covering 27 percent of the country. The World Bank’s 1998 Poverty Assessment found that the FFE did raise enrollment and attendance rates, and by 2000, the FFE program had covered about 27 percent of all primary schools in Bangladesh. Out of 5.2 million students enrolled in schools with FFE, about 40 percent received food grains (mostly wheat) through the program. About two million families benefited from the FFE program.
But there negative issues related to the FFE program as well. It suffered from high levels of leakage (it cost 1.59 taka to transfer 1 taka in benefits) and was poorly targeted (50 percent of the beneficiaries came from households above the lower poverty line). Increases in the price of the food commodities in 2001-2002 caused the government of Bangladesh to reduce the amount of food assistance, until the program was discontinued in June 2002.
However, universal primary education was still far from achieving. So, a new program, the PESP was introduced. The new Primary Education Stipend Project was designed to provide cash assistance through a stipend program to poor primary school pupils and their families throughout rural Bangladesh. The targeted beneficiaries of the PESP were an estimated 5.5 million pupils from the poorest households who were enrolled in eligible primary schools in all rural areas of Bangladesh (469 upazillas).
In order to qualify for the stipend, selected pupils were to maintain 85 percent monthly attendance and attain a minimum of 50 percent marks on the annual exam administered for each grade. To continue to participate in the program, a school must demonstrate at least 60 percent pupil attendance, and 10 percent of its grade 5 pupils must sit for the Primary School Scholarship Exam. Households of qualifying pupils would receive 100 taka (about $1.76) per month for one pupil (not to exceed 1200 taka annually) and 125 taka per month for more than one pupil (not to exceed 1500 taka annually). Six designated national banks would disburse the stipends on a quarterly basis to authorized parents/guardians on a pre-determined date at the local bank branch or at a temporary distribution post (“camp’) established at a convenient location within 5 kilometres of the school site. Stipends would be disbursed to pupils’ parents or legal guardians who present the proper PESP bank-issued identity card. Preferences were to be given to issuing cards to the mothers of the selected pupil.
The new features of the PESP were:
• Subsidies provided in cash, rather than in kind (as in the FFE Program) would ease transfer to poor recipients and would limit the involvement of school personnel in distribution (FFE required teachers to dole out the wheat and rice).
• Cost-effectiveness would increase as the government of Bangladesh can offer stipends to more families for the same cost and not be vulnerable to increases in food prices (as with the FFE Program that necessitated decreasing the amount of food provided).
• The stipend amount is fixed at a level that will significantly offset household poverty (unlike the 25 taka offered through the PES Project).
• The cash stipend is more flexible, so the family can determine its best use according to their needs—whether it is used for food purchase, school expenses or financing income generating activities (unlike the FFE Program where households often sold the food at less than market value to obtain cash).
• Disbursing the stipend funds to the mother will increase her power within the household and she will be more likely to spend the money to improve the children’s welfare (earlier programs disbursed to fathers or male household heads).
• Leakage will be reduced because (i) commodities (such as the FFE Program’s wheat and rice rations) are more liable to misappropriation and (ii) bank-mediated distribution eliminates scope for underpayment or kick-backs.
• Provision of stipends on a nation-wide basis (rather than in selected areas) will reach the poor families throughout rural Bangladesh who must restrict their children’s participation in primary school.

7.2 PROGRAMME PERFORMANCE

The Primary Education Stipend Project (PESP) aims to increase the educational participation—enrollment, attendance, persistence, and performance–of primary school-aged children from poor families throughout Bangladesh by providing cash payments to targeted households.
The new Primary Education Stipend Project is designed to provide cash assistance through a stipend program to poor primary school pupils and their families throughout rural Bangladesh. The impacts of PESP in the research area are described below according to the official objectives of the PESP:

• Increase the enrolment rate among primary school-aged children from poor families.
The researcher found this objective successful to some extent because the statistics provided by the teachers show that enrolment rate has increased after the PESP have been introduced. The school enrolled the new students in only class one.
The numbers of enrolment of last five years has been shown in the table below.
• Increase the attendance rate of primary school pupils.
The PESP rationale is that regular attendance will improve pupils learning outcomes and contribute to good grades on exams. Attaining 40 percent marks will motivate the pupil to study and the pupil’s family to support his/her studies, by ensuing school attendance (not withdrawing for labour) and providing the necessary supplies and inputs. Combined these conditions are expected to lead to reduced repetition and drop-out and increased completion.
Meeting the attendance requirement on a monthly basis will determine the amount of the quarterly stipend disbursement. If a pupil does not meet the condition, the stipend will not be paid for that month. Classroom teachers record attendance daily, checked by head teachers. The 85 percent target is relatively high, compared with average primary school attendance rates that are reported to be 61 percent or below and even with the FSSAP which has a target of 75 percent.
This objective was not very successful as the attendance rate was very poor in the primary school were this research have been done. Teachers said that in general attendance rate is well below 85 percent. Students from the poor households are the most irregular ones. The reason for absenteeism is primarily due to the inability to pay for school expenses and/or the need to work either at home or outside the home. However, in some of the cases, reasons behind absenteeism were temporary or chronic illness, disinclination for schooling, bad weather, flooding, etc.
During the rainy season the attendance was low as the roads were muddy and slippery and transportation was unavailable. During the bad whether some of them stayed absent as they didn’t want to damage their clothes. Two of the samples said that they had only two clothes, of which one was torn so they wore it in the house and the other one they wore in the school. They remained absent if the better cloth was wet as they couldn’t were the other one.
The direct and opportunity costs of schooling, cultural constraints and prejudices, and special needs of vulnerable children—prevent these children from going to school.
Although primary education is declared as tuition-free, there are many direct costs like exam fees, enrolment fee etc and with this there are many indirect costs like pen, papers, clothes etc. Though the stipend money was a help to some extent to the poor families, it was distributed after 3 months and during that time whenever the family couldn’t afford the necessary equipments, the children remained absent. Although the stipend receivers said that they bought pen, papers, clothes etc, they also said they still missed school whenever they couldn’t manage them as they were given punishments.
Another reason for low attendance of the students was the opportunity cost of the child. Students frequently remained absent during different times of agricultural cycles as their labour was needed by their family. In the rainy seasons some of the boys helped their father in boat rowing so they stayed absent and because of this, they were dropped from the stipend receivers list.

• Reduce the drop out rate of primary school pupils and increase the cycle completion rate of primary school pupil.
Unlike enrollment, persistence in primary school requires an ongoing household commitment that, especially among the vulnerable poor, is easily assailed by family circumstances (e.g. illness, death), the economy, and a host of other factors. The continuous payment of a stipend for the pupil’s entire primary school career—does provide both motivation and a monetary cushion for the family by helping to offset the opportunity costs associated with economic hardship that could pull a child from school. However, as a child ages both the direct and opportunity costs (for boys in the labour market and girls in the marriage market) increase, and the stipend is not sufficient to meet these costs. In addition, considerations other than monetary—such as lack of interest in schooling, dissatisfaction with the quality of schooling, cultural imperatives to marry, etc.–may come into play that are not amenable to financial incentives.
Although primary education is declared as tuition-free, there are many direct costs like exam fees, enrolment fee; certain amount from the stipend money is also taken for various reasons. These expenses become a big problem for the poor households and it influences dropping out. The number of drop-out children in last five years is given below.
Table 7: Number of dropouts in the last 5 years provided by the school
Although the dropout numbers provided by the school shows that dropout from school in class five is around 10 to 12, the researcher found that in reality the number was more than that as certain amount of underwriting is done so that the school remains in the PESP allotting list.
The PESP stipend does not appear to meaningfully offset the opportunity costs of child labour, averaging less than 5 taka per day or $2 per month. But, its ability to attract children from the labour market to school clearly depends on the situation of the family. It is unlikely that a desperately poor family would be able to forego the income or even the food earned by a regularly-employed child. However, in some cases the child may continue to earn a sufficient amount outside of school hours and during school absences tolerated by the PESP (15 percent).
The additional 25 taka per month for any subsequent children enrolled in primary school represents a much smaller contribution towards meeting the opportunity cost of schooling, and acts more as a reward to those households who have already made the decision to send their children to school than to encourage households to send non-attending children to school.
Since opportunity costs must also be added to direct costs of schooling to assess the real cost, families of working children may not be able to cover both the sacrifice of a child’s income or labour and the cash outlays for the direct costs discussed above. Both the direct and opportunity costs of schooling increases as the child ages and progresses in primary school, increasing the burden for very poor families. Consequently, the PESP stipend may not be sufficient to overcome the financial barriers to primary schooling in families where children must work constantly to increase household production or income or to feed themselves.

• Enhance the quality of primary education.
The PESP is least likely to be successful in improving the quality of education (as defined by learning outcomes and completion rates), because it places the entire burden of quality improvement on the child (maintaining high attendance) and household (purchasing educational inputs to ensure good grades), rather than on the teacher or school. First, failure to achieve is more often the result of poor instruction than of incapable students. Second, families targeted for support are poor, and it is far more likely that the stipend will be used to provide additional food and clothing for the family than purchase educational materials or tutoring for a primary school child. And while it would not be reasonable to expect a stipend program to also be a quality improvement program, the PESP may have negative consequences for educational quality of the 75-85 percent of primary school-age children already in school by diverting resources away from needed supply-side improvements.
The impact of PESP in the research area seemed to favour access over quality. The teachers said as the most of the parents who enrolled their children for stipend, they don’t worry about the quality of education; instead they want to receive the stipend money anyhow. This attitude can never help to improve quality of education.

• Ensure equity in the provision of financial assistance to primary school-age children and alleviate poverty.
Bangladesh ranks as one of the poorest countries in the world, with a GDP per capita of $350. The poor account for about 50 percent of Bangladesh’s total population, and 37 percent are counted among the “hard-core” poor, who live in the direst circumstances (Bangladesh Human Development Report 2000, BIDS). That fifty-three percent of pupils in the primary education system come from poor households reflects the high demand for primary education among Bangladeshi parents. Ultimately, much of the success of the PESP in combating poverty and helping families deal with the direct and opportunity costs of sending their children to primary school will depend on the validity of the targeting mechanism and on the real value of the stipend in offsetting those costs.
Primary school-age children become eligible for stipend benefits if their families meet at least one of the following five targeting criteria:
• Children from a landless or near-landless household that owns less than half an acre of land;
• Children of day labourers;
• Children from female-headed households (i.e., a household headed by a female who is widowed, separated from husband, divorced, or having a disabled husband);
• Children from households that earn their living from low-income professions (such as, fishing, pottery, weaving, blacksmithing, and cobbling); and
• Children of sharecroppers.
At present, the targeting methodology does not appear sufficiently well-defined to ensure that the poorest families in Bangladesh benefit, but rather the poorer families relative to their specific locale (which may not be terribly poor).
With no clear-cut guidelines or empirical methods for identifying the poorest students, it is not clear how poor children can be identified. More over, a lot of community members and parents of the dropout children blamed the teachers and SMC members of deliberate biases and distortions. Almost universally, those interviewed said that SMC members and teachers complicit in giving favour to local elites and the non-poor in school admission and enrollment in the PESP or extracting some form of payment for consideration. Because the SMC members are generally members of the local elite, it has been told by the parents of the drop-outs and community member that they have a tendency to favour their own friends and relatives.
The stipend amount appears sufficient to cover the education costs of one child, but the PESP often employs a rationale that double- and triple-counts the stipend, by stating that it will offset direct costs, eliminate opportunity costs, and increase household income. It is unlikely that the stipend is adequate to address all three at the same time. It does not appear to fully recognize that the PESP will also cause the families—especially those with working children—to incur significant costs that may not represent a net gain for the household (at least in the short-term). The PESP may be too expensive for very poor households whose children are not already enrolled, as the stipend amount is not sufficient to pay for education, compensate for lost wages/production and increase household income as well.
Poverty impedes households’ ability to pay for school fees and/or other direct (e.g. textbooks) and indirect (e.g. “donations” for school authorities) costs that may be required for school admission or full participation in primary school. Poor households are more likely to need children’s labour for income-producing or cost-saving activities, and be less able to sacrifice the child’s time to schooling, resulting in frequent absenteeism and/or early withdrawal from school. The poor are more prone to disease and malnutrition than the non-poor. Poor health and nutritional status among young and school-aged children can result in illness and/or physical and cognitive impairment or delays, causing late enrollment, drop-out, absenteeism and poor learning outcomes.

Additional objectives (mentioned by MOPME officials):
Eradication of child labour and empowerment of women were the additional objectives. PESP could not eradicate child labour as it was seen that the samples often missed classes because of various household works. All of the 6 male samples helped their fathers in the field at different times of agricultural cycles. The boys who worked in the agricultural field worked in two phases. For working in the morning from 8AM to 1PM, they received 1 meal and 50 to 70 taka and for working from 2PM to 5PM, they are given 30 taka. In the rainy season a some of the male samples helped their fathers in boat rowing.
Girls and women are the unpaid household labourers. All of the 6 female samples’ labour in the household is an economic necessity because it frees others to earn outside. All of them had to do important works like collecting water and firewood, washing utensils, helping in cooking and taking care of siblings. Because of these reasons, parents were reluctant to spare their daughters for schooling.
There is no evidence of gender disparity in enrollment rates among the poor, but it is likely that girls who belonged to poor families are less likely to persist and perform in school than boys. But as there is a stipend programme for the secondary female students, girls are now getting the opportunity for higher studies.

Social Impact of PESP:
Irrespective of the PESP’s impact on primary education or its reaching the poorest 40 percent of families, the prevalence of poverty in Bangladesh is such that the PESP must be regarded as a positive move in improving social welfare, in that it represents a substantial redistribution or transfer of income from the wealthier sections of society to the poorer ones. Given the rural focus, it is seen that these cash transfers has some positive impact on the economies of small rural communities. As households spend the PESP stipend on commodities (books, food, clothing, etc) and services (tutoring, medical, etc.), the effects are rippling through the community, generating additional income for merchants and suppliers. Insofar as mothers are the stipend recipients, it is expected that they will have decision-making authority over its use and their economic prestige will be enhanced somewhat. The political and social impact is also positive as beneficiary poor families and community members appreciate the recognition of need and the benefits offered by the PESP.
But the major negative impact of this program is that those parents who sent their children to school after hearing about the stipend money, many of them withdrew their children when they were dropped from the stipend receivers list. These parents were unaware of the rules for achieving the stipend and they became angry and annoyed by the rules. They also claimed that rules are strictly followed in the cases of poor students and teachers showed biasness while distributing stipends. According to them, the students who take private tuitions from the teachers and the children of the rich and powerful people receive stipend even if they are irregular or have failed in exams. Many of the parents said with anger that the strictness of rules happens only for the poor. Thus even though the stipend programme has increased the enrolment rate it has also became a reason for dropping out of children.
The people who have two or more children enrolled in school do not support the rule of Tk. 125 for two children. They feel that all of their children should receive Tk. 100 each. Some of the parents of the dropouts were very annoyed with this rule. Few dropout children had their siblings reading in the same schools as well, so the amount of money received from PESP due to this rule made the parents take different strategy. Although both children received stipend, many of these parents withdrew their eldest child from school and engaged them in work, while the other children continued studying as long as they receive stipend. It is difficult for a poor family to afford the opportunity cost of more then one child.

Matrix 1—Knowledge, attitude and perception towards the primary education stipend project

Key issues Students Parents

Teachers

Community
1.  Knowledge regarding the project

Selection criteria

For poor and regular students, in primary school are eligible for stipend

For poor and regular students

85% attendance and at least 45% pass marks in each subjects in all exams

 

 

Given to all poor and good students schools

Retention Criteria

Regular  attendance and at least pass marks in all exams

Regular attendance and good result

85% attendance and at least 50% pass marks in each subjects in all exams

 

 

Regular attendance in school and good result

Disbursement Process

Distributed by bank officials or teachers to the students in school/nearby camps arranged for disbursement.

Distributed from school and received by students

Distributed from school or camps arranged by UPO in the presence of headmaster, class teacher, and SMC members

 

 

 

Distributed by school  among students

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.  Attitude towards the project

Beneficial for all especially the poor.

Helpful for all

Highly beneficial particularly to the poor students

 

 

Helpful for children

Adequacy of stipend amount

 

 

 

 

 

Disbursement process

Not sufficient and should be increased

 

 

 

Reasonable

Inadequate for expenses of  direct and hidden costs but still helpful

 

Reasonable

Though inadequate but helpful for the very poor students

 

 

 

Though reasonable but takes a whole working day

 

 

 

 

Key issues

Students

Parents

Teachers

Community

3.   Impact of the project

 

Enrollment

 

 

 

 

Attendance

 

 

 

 

 

 

Increased, particularly for the poor students

 

 

Increased a little

 

 

Increased

 

 

 

 

Increased a little

 

 

Increased for all, and especially increased for poor students

Attendance is still the same amongst poor students but in general increased a little

 

 

 

 

 

Increased

 

 

 

 

Probably more regular than before

Dropout

 

 

Completion rate

 

 

Incidence of early marriage

 

Support towards female education

 

Family pressure for marriage

 

Social pressure for marriage

Decreased

 

 

High

 

 

Still the same

 

 

Same as before

 

 

 

Still the same

 

 

Still the same

Less than before

 

Higher than before

 

Still the same

 

Increased a little

 

 

Decreased a little

 

Still the same

Decreased a little

 

 

Higher than before

 

Still the same

 

 

Increased a little

 

 

 

Still the same

 

 

Still the same

Decreased a little

 

 

Higher than before

 

Still the same

 

 

Increased

 

 

 

Decreased a little

 

 

Still the same

Key issues Students Parents

Teachers

Community
4. Problems regarding the project

 

 Inadequate stipend amount

 

 

 

Late distribution of text books

 

 

 

 

 

 

Late disbursement of stipend

 

 

Extortion of stipend money in forms of school fees and private tuitionInadequate stipend amount,

 

 

Indirect cost of schooling (fees, uniform, cost of education aids),

 

Late distribution of stipend

 

 

Extortion of stipend money in forms of school fees and private tuitionInadequate stipend amount for the very poor students,

 

Lack of training opportunities for teachers in the project

 

 

 

 

Late disbursement of stipend money by the government

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inadequate stipend amount

 

 

 

 

7.3 IMPACTS ON BENEFICIARY AND NON–BENEFICIARY GROUPS

Every incentive program has some advantages and some disadvantages, and its effects on various interest groups are different. The effects of PESP on the beneficiary groups (those who are receiving stipend) and on the non-beneficiary groups (those who are not receiving stipend) are different.
After interview with the parents of the beneficiary groups (those children who are receiving PESP), satisfactory reactions about PESP have been collected. All of the interviewed parents and the students think that PESP is a very profitable program.

Use of stipend money according to parents
Admission and session fees for school
Exam and other fees  charged by the school
Sewing or replacing (a part) of school uniform
Private tutors payment
Buying textbooks, guidebooks, notebooks, paper
Making/buying jewelries for daughter
Tiffin and conveyance

However, the people who have two or more children enrolled in school do not support the allocation of Tk. 125 for two children. They feel that all of their children should receive Tk. 100 each.
Some of the parents of the dropouts were very annoyed with this rule. Few dropout children had their siblings reading in the same schools as well, so the amount of money received from PESP due to this rule made the parents think of the PESP as not a very useful program. Although both children received stipend, many of these parents withdrew their eldest child from school and engaged them in work, while the other children continued studying as long as they receive stipend. The opportunity cost of more then one child is too much to bear for a poor family.
The teachers strongly criticized this type of parents. They said that these parents do not enroll their children to get them educated; rather, they enroll their children to receive the money of PESP. As a result, these parents do not want to follow any rules and they are ready to do all forms of cheating to receive more money. The teachers also said that those who have more than one children who of the age of schooling, they enroll their children in different schools in nearby areas so that each children receives Tk. 100. After that, if any of the children gets dropped from the PESP receivers’ list, then they enroll that child into another school so that the child starts receiving stipend.
The teachers also said that in some cases, the same student has been enrolled in 2/3 schools so that he could get the PESP money from all the schools. In this context, one teacher said from his own experience that once, he went to a neighbouring village primary school for some errand. On that same day, the PESP money was being distributed. Suddenly, one of the female parents hid her face and ran away from the school as she saw him. However, he had recognized that woman as a parent of one of the children of his school. After some investigation, it was found that the woman was taking stipend money for her child, who was an enrolled student in both of the schools.
On the basis of the information found from the teacher’s experience, the researcher asked the teachers that how was it possible for a student to receive stipend in 2/3 schools as according to the rules, 85% attendance was important to maintain the eligibility for receiving stipend? To this, the teachers replied that for the sake of humanity, many poor students were given present in the register books even if they were absent, so that they would be able to receive stipend money. In fact, the students have to so show their learning achievements as well as their attendance, so many forms of irregularities are done on the record books and registers.
The members in the beneficiary group said that they send their children for private tuitions, so they give the tuition fees from the stipend money. These parents also said that if someone goes to the school teachers for private tuitions, then receiving stipend money, passing in exams, attendance records, etc. matters become very easy.
For primary schools to continue to be eligible to participate in PESP and their pupils’ families to receive stipends, the school must:
• prepare a list of beneficiary pupils that passes the scrutiny of AUPEO, approved by the UPEO and countersigned by the UNO.
• Demonstrate a minimum of 60 percent pupil attendance on an unscheduled (surprise) inspection day.
• Demonstrate that a minimum of 10 percent of grade 5 pupils appeared (“sat”) for the primary scholarship examination.

The PESP rationale is that by also holding the school responsible for pupil attendance and exams, the school will actively encourage the pupils to attend class and make efforts to redress any problems in these areas. Households and pupils will also be pressured in that if their collective performance causes the school to be disqualified, then they too are disqualified. In fact, since the school does not receive any official payment or reward for participating, then greatest losers will be the pupils and households from whom the stipends will be withheld.
If the school does not prepare a list of pupils that corresponds to PESP criteria or is not acceptable for some reason (e.g. ghost students, non-poor pupils), then the school can be permanently disqualified from participating in the PESP if irregularities are determined to have been done deliberately. If the school fails to show 60 percent attendance on the day of inspection an AUPEO, then the stipends for pupils at the school will be temporarily suspended until another unscheduled visit from a higher authority shows satisfactory attendance. Finally, if a school does not maintain a 10 percent sit rate for the Grade 5 exam, then the school will be suspended from the PESP until the next year when it must meet the target to re-enter the program. The exam records are recorded and maintained by the school, and reviewed by the AUPEO.
Due to these rules the teachers said that they try very hard so that they could fulfil the criteria of the PESP allocation. Some teachers said that few irregularities are done for the sake of the poor students who really need the stipend money and also there are pressures from the elites of the village. The teachers said that the children of the SMC members and elites of the village are favoured because they are powerful and most of these children take private tuition from the school teachers. Some of the teachers admitted that favouring the private students in receiving stipend or passing exams is unfair, but they have no choice as they depend on the income from tuition. The teachers claim that they receive nothing from this programme, and instead the stipend distribution process causes them a lot of extra work load like making list, distributing money etc, and for these works they have to remain long hours in the school after the school hours.
Different views and opinions were expressed by the non-beneficiary groups. Most of these parents were unaware of the rules for achieving the stipend and they became angry and annoyed by the rules. They also claimed that rules are strictly followed in the cases of poor students and teachers showed biasness while distributing stipends. According to them, the students who take private tuitions from the teachers and the children of the rich and powerful people receive stipend even if they are irregular or have failed in exams. Many of the parents said with anger that the strictness of rules happens only for the poor.

CASE STUDIES

The research work has been conducted with 12 samples. In most of the cases, the common reason for dropping out from school was poverty, lack of interest, no support from parents, opportunity costs, etc. In the case of girls, the problem of eve teasing and the parental pressure for marriage was also persistent. Mostly, the samples had similar problems; from them, the researcher has tried to illustrate some of the cases that are a little different from the others. Pseudonyms were given to the samples because of ethical reasons.

• CASE STUDY 1: Lack of interest made Dulal leave school

Dulal is a boy aged 10 years. He left school when he was in class two, in the year 2004. His father is a sharecropper and also the only earning member of the family. Dulal is jobless and is not earning money at this moment. There are 6 members in his family. The monthly income of the family is between Tk. 2500 to 3000.
Dulal never enjoyed going to school because he does not think that education has any importance in his life. He does not understand why people have to go to school. At school, he was always scolded by his teachers for not completing his home tasks, and failed to understand his studies most of the time, especially English. According to his parents, he never contributed any labour at home, and since their family never went through any period of severe food shortage, Dulal never went to school hungry; it was mainly his lack of interest that caused him to drop out from school. He loves to fly kites and play football. For this reason, he often missed school; and though his parents knew about this, they could do nothing because they could not find him.
Due to his lack of interest and his irregularity in school, Dulal failed to get promoted to class three. As a result, he was dropped from the PESP receiver’s list, and this also discouraged him to go to school. He has no interest in going to school in the future.
Afroza is 12 years old. She left school when she was in class four, in the year 2003. Her father, the only earning member of the family, is an agricultural labourer as well as a seasonal rickshaw puller. Her father earns about Tk. 2000 to 2500 a month. There are nine members in her family. Afroza is not doing any job at the moment.
Afroza belongs to a poverty stricken household. She has three sisters two little brothers. Their grandmother also lives with them. Usually, she does the household jobs like cooking, washing clothes, looking after her younger siblings, etc. However, in times of extreme need, for example if someone is ill, or in times when there is not enough food for the family, she does temporary jobs that earn her about Tk. 100 to 150.
Since they are so poor, Afroza’s parents could not buy her new copies, clothes, etc. in due time. She was not very good in her studies and since they were so poor, her father could not afford private tuitions for her. As a result, she used to miss classes quite often and ultimately, she failed in class four. Consequently, she was dropped from the PESP receiver’s list. After that, she stopped going to school.
Afroza has two elder sisters aged 16 and 14 years respectively who are also primary school dropouts. Her father is trying to give marriage to them, which will cost a lot of money in the near future. As a result, her father is not interested in sending her to school again in the future because without the stipend money, her father could not afford the direct and hidden costs of schooling.
• CASE STUDY 3: Eve teasing influenced Samia’s decision to leave school
Samia is a girl aged 13 years. She left school while she was in the fourth grade, in the year 2003. Her father died a few years ago. Her mother works as a part-time domestic help in a few rich households. Currently, Samia also works as a domestic help and earns about Tk. 200 a month. There are five members in the family. Including the earnings of Samia and her member, the monthly income of the family is about Tk. 800 to 1200.
At her house, Samia had small siblings who had to be looked after, when her mother was out at work. She also had to do the household chores as her mother could not stay at home during the day. Whenever her mother did not go to her workplace due to illness or other reasons, she had to work as her mother’s substitute. Thus, she often missed school.
At school, Samia was a mediocre student and had repeated class three once. She had an attractive appearance and looked older for her age. Hence, she was teased by vandals on the way to school and back home. As a result, both she and her mother felt scared for safety as she was an orphan. So, her mother started to think about giving her marriage very soon. She started to miss school frequently, and ultimately she failed in the fourth grade. Her mother then stopped her from going to school.
Currently, Samia’s mother is desperately trying to get her married.
• CASE STUDY 4: Kaniz had to leave school to support her family
Kaniz is a 13 year old girl. She left school while she was in class four, in the year 2003. She has a very old and sick father who stays at home and had not been earning for a long time. Kaniz is working as a housemaid and has a monthly income of Tk. 200. There are seven members in her family. Among them, four members earn money to support the family. The monthly income of the family ranges from Tk. 2000 to 2500.
Kaniz was quite a good student and she never repeated in a class. The main reason behind her leaving school was the illness of her mother. Her mother had grown a tumour in her abdomen which had to be removed by operation. The operation cost them Tk. 20, 000. Therefore, they had to take a lot of loans on high interest. Her father is quite old and is handicapped, so he cannot work now. To repay the loans, they need a lot of money.
Now, Kaniz and her immediate older sister, who is also a primary school dropout, is working and running the household. Their eldest sister is married and has two children. Her husband is jobless. They have separated and now she lives in her paternal house with her children. She and her elder daughter also contribute to run the household.
Kaniz is now working as a domestic help. She is unhappy in her current situation because when she was a student, she could play a lot, but now she does not have enough time for it. Doing heavy jobs like washing clothes, making spice paste, etc. is very exhausting for her. She still hopes that one day her mother will be cured and the debt will be paid and she will go to school again.
Kaniz’s parents think that girls do not need to study much. They feel that Kaniz has studied enough. They will be satisfied to give marriage to their daughters. Their girls are currently working, eating three meals a day; some money is being saved at the end of a month. They cannot hope for more.
• CASE STUDY 5: Mizan’s illness and opportunity cost made him dropout from school
Mizan is 12 years old. He left school while he was in the third grade, in the year 2003. His father is an agricultural labourer as well as a boat rower in the rainy season. After leaving school, Mizan started working as a helper in a grocery shop, earning Tk. 200 a month. There are eight members in his family, with three earning members. The monthly income of the family is Tk. 2500 to 3000.
Mizan has five siblings. His eldest sister is married and does not live with them. He has an elder brother, two little sisters and a younger brother as well. Their grandmother also lives with them. She is very old and disabled. Mizan’s mother does the household chores. His elder brother works in a teashop. Mizan himself works in a grocery shop. One of his younger sisters reads in primary school and his youngest sister and brother are still too small.
When he was in school, Mizan used to fall ill and suffer from fever quite often. Since they were poor, his parents had to take him to the village quack doctors, but his illness remained undiagnosed. It is probable that his illness was caused by malnutrition because now that he earns money and eats healthy food, he does not suffer from this type of illness so frequently. Despite his illness, he used to help his father to row boats in the rainy season, which might also be a source of his illness. At that time it became quite difficult for him to continue schooling, partly because of his illness and partly because of the opportunity cost of him going to school. Ultimately, he dropped out from school.
Mizan wanted to study, but failed to do so. In the future, he will study if he gets the chance again. On the other hand, Mizan’s parents are happy with what he is doing. He is earning money, food and also, he is learning work. So, they are not concerned about him going to school again.
• CASE STUDY 6: Shafiq dropped out from school due to the opportunity costs
Shafiq is 11 years old. He left school when he was in class two, in the year 2004. His father is an agricultural labourer and an occasional rickshaw puller. Shafiq currently works as a helper in a teashop, earning Tk. 200 a month. There are seven members in his family, with only two earning members. The monthly income of the family is Tk. 2200 to 2800.
Shafiq comes from a large family. There are many members in the family but, only few earn. He has siblings who are too small to go to work. As a result, he has to work hard to support his family. The opportunity cost for him going to school was too high.
At school, Shafiq was an enthusiastic student. He liked to study, though his performance was not up to the mark. He thinks that it is important to study as it will help in the future, because no one will be able to cheat him while trading if he knew correct mathematics. However despite his interest, he sometimes had to miss school due to work. Unfortunately, he failed to get promoted to class three, which influenced his father to withdraw him from school.
Shafiq’s mother had encouraged him to go to school, but his father was never much interested. When he was in school, he had been a PESP receiver, which was mainly the cause why his father sent him to school. However, when he failed to get promoted, he was dropped from the PESP receiver’s list and then his father stopped sending him to school.
In the future, Shafiq will go to school if he gets the chance again. However, his father has no such intention now.

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION

The main objective of this study was to investigate the reasons behind drop-out in a primary school. The findings of this study suggest that various interlinked factors influences dropping out. Among these, poverty is one of the most pervasive factors in low persistence and attainment, and poor performance of children in primary school. Poverty impedes households’ ability to pay for school fees and/or other direct (e.g. exam fees etc) and indirect (e.g. clothes, pen, papers etc) costs that are required for school admission or full participation in primary school. Poor households need children’s labour for income-producing or cost-saving activities, and are less able to sacrifice the child’s time to schooling, resulting in frequent absenteeism and/or early withdrawal from school.
The irregular and low salary of teachers influences their motivation to teach and forces them to depend on private tuition. As a result they are obligated to favour their private students which create frustration amongst the other students. These children found school unfriendly and unfair. Also the educational curriculum was alien to their direct needs and they had no help in studies at home as their family members were largely illiterate. All of these factors make the students reluctant towards education.
Government incentives like PESP is successful in the sense that it increased enrollment but as a child ages both the direct and opportunity costs (for boys in the labour market and girls in the marriage market) increase, the stipend is not sufficient to meet these costs. The stipend seemed to assist those households whose children are already enrolled but unable to meet many of the expenses of primary education, but it is not enough to offset direct costs, eliminate opportunity costs, and increase household income. The other problem was when more than one child of a family received stipend, many of these parents withdrew their eldest child from school and engaged them in work, while the other children continued studying as long as they receive stipend. The opportunity cost of more then one child is difficult to bear for a poor family. Many of the children who disqualified for the PESP left school as it was no more feasible for them.
The unsupportive parental attitude towards education which influences drop-out was largely because of the lack of awareness and adverse circumstances. The main problem of the illiterate people is that the concept and prospects of education is very vague to them. They take opportunities as they come by and try to solve their problems temporarily, but they do not make any long term investments like educating children as they do not look at it as an investment. So the drop-out problem may continue unless their economic condition is improved and they realize education is important and it can help them in future. To overcome dropout problem, initiatives should be taken by the government and donors to improve the economic condition of the poor, increase and regularise teachers’ salary, increase the availability of school facilities and also initiatives can be taken to provide some extra facilities (e.g. distribution of food, clothes etc) to benefit the poor students.

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