Building Partnerships to Promote Early Childhood Development
Children's access to pre-school education in Bangladesh

Using the Education Watch household survey database, this paper explores children’s access to preschool education in Bangladesh. Participation in pre-school education has been increasing in Bangladesh at the rate of 0.6% per year and the net enrolment rate was found to be 13.4% in 2005. Enrolment of over-aged children in pre-school education made the gross enrolment ratio as high as 30.5%. However, over half of the four to five year olds at school were actually enrolled in primary school and not in pre-school. Moreover, 71% of the four- to five-year group was out of school. Only a third of the four- to five-year-old children enrolled in schools had the opportunity to attend the English-medium kindergartens or NGO-run non-formal schools, both of which provide better quality pre-school education. Urban children, especially those with educated parents and from more privileged socio-economic backgrounds, were more likely to have access to pre-school education. The lack of a common pre-school curriculum seems to have created further inequity among children at this very early age. An educational policy targeting poor and socially disadvantaged children with support from both the state and current pre-school providers is urgently needed to provide four- to five-year-old children appropriate education for their needs.