Bangladesh, a country in South Asia, is facing economic challenges, with a significant portion of its population living in poverty. According to the World Bank, Bangladesh was ranked as the 61st weakest economy in the world in 2021, recording a GDP per capita of $6,493. With a total population of 169.4 million, children aged 0-14 constitute 26% in 2021. However, Bangladesh still needs to achieve SDG Target 4.1 by 2030. The poorest families have the highest percentage (45%) of out-of-school children.
Despite a high enrolment rate in first grade, almost 50% of these students still need to complete primary school. Almost 8 million children have either dropped out of school or have never enrolled, and poverty is the primary reason for this. For many families, having children work to support the family income is more important than education, which leads to a delayed return on education. Orphan children from poor families living in urban slums, streets, and poverty-stricken rural areas are at risk of dropping out of school, engaging in child labour, and being victims of child marriage.
In addition, there are widespread unofficial fees, such as exam fees, book fees, school activity fees, and transportation costs, which are difficult for poor families to manage, making education inaccessible to their children.
Human Concern International (HCI), a global charity based in Canada, has partnered with a local organization in Bangladesh to address the educational needs of vulnerable orphan children. HCI’s theory of change provides support that enables vulnerable children to access quality education in a protective environment where their physical and emotional well-being are taken care of. Through a needs assessment conducted by local organizations, HCI identified education materials, school uniforms, essential clothing, food items for family members, living cost support and health and hygiene products as the most needed items for poor and vulnerable children to access quality education.
HCI’s efforts have supported about 240 orphans, vulnerable children and their families with education materials, tuition fees, school uniforms, food items, hygiene and medical support and house rent. The program ensures that children attend school regularly and maintain good grades. The support also allows the re-enrollment of children who have dropped out of school. The educational progress reports of children and other development progress are shared with HCI. The annual meeting of orphan children across Bangladesh provides an opportunity for them to learn and encourage each other, while the program enables orphan children to complete their high school certificates and enter the local job market.