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D+C  e-Paper  August 2016 17 Niaz Asadullah is the deputy director of the Centre for Poverty and Development Studies (CPDS) at the University of Malaya. [email protected] For girls, primary school attendance has become the norm. spending on private-tuition is slightly higher for boys. The expenditure for boys in secondary schools exceeds that for girls by 27 % however, and families invest 38 % more in boys’ private tuition at that level. It is a sad truth that private tuition is becoming increasingly important even in rural areas. This trend is evident across South Asia (see D+C/E+Z e-Paper 2016/06, p. 36 f., and e-Paper 2016/02, p. 11). The main reason is the dismal quality of state-run schools. According to an independent assessment of student learning in rural Bangladesh by Asadullah and Chaud- hury (2015), there is a weak relationship between learning outcomes and years spent in schools. Our data indicate that Bangladeshi parents value the education of their sons and daughters equally as far as primary schooling is concerned. However, there is a serious gender gap in secondary schooling, even though that is not evident in the enrolment figures. Families invest less in girls’ education, though they send them to school. Girls’ chances of actually obtain- ing the standard school certificate after class 10 are smaller than those of boys. Most likely, the expectation of early marriage is the primary factor behind the gender disparity in house- hold expenditures. If the norm is that adolescent girls marry instead of finishing school, investing in their education becomes a lux- ury impoverished parents cannot afford. That they are expected to pay a sub- stantial dowry when their daughter gets married is a further disincentive to investing in education. In turn, this means that households are too poor to invest in girls’ education. The good news is that traditional factors such as the lack of schools within commuting distance and religious opposition to female schooling are no longer holding back Bang- ladeshi girls. The bad news is that girls still lack equal opportunities in education. What the country now needs is a new policy to help girls finish secondary school. Links UNESCO and UNICEF, 2015: Child labour and out-of-school children: evidence from 25 developing countries. uploads/2015/01/OOSC-2014-Child- labour-final.pdf Asadullah, M. N., and Chaudhury, N., 2015: The dissonance between schooling and learning: evidence from rural Bangladesh. Comparative Education Review 59, no. 3. abs/10.1086/681929?journalCode=cer WiLCAS, 2014: Women’s live choices and attitudes survey. Zaki Wahhaj is senior lecturer in Economics at the University of Kent. [email protected] Sumon Yusuf/Majority World/Lineair