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The present education system of Bangladesh may be broadly divided into three major stages, viz. primary, secondary and tertiary education. Primary level institutions impart primary education basically. Junior secondary/secondary and higher secondary level institutions impart secondary education. Degree pass, degree honours, masters and other higher-level institutions or equivalent section of other related institutions impart tertiary education. The education system is operationally categorized into two streams: primary education (Grade I-V) managed by the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education (MOPME)) and the other system is the post-primary education which covers all other levels from junior secondary to higher education under the administration of the Ministry of Education (MOE). The post-primary stream of education is further classified into four types in terms of curriculum: general education, madrasah education, technical-vocational education and professional education.

1. General Education

a) Primary education

The first level of education is comprised of 5 years of formal schooling   (class / grades I - V). Education, at this stage, normally begins at 6+ years of age up to 11 years. Primary education is generally imparted in primary schools. Nevertheless, other types of institutions like kindergartens and junior sections attached to English medium schools are also imparting it.

b) Secondary education

The second level of education is comprised of 7 (3+2+2) years of formal schooling. The first 3 years (grades VI-VIII) is referred to as junior secondary; the next 2 years (grades IX -X) is secondary while the last 2 years (grades XI - XII) is called higher secondary.

There is diversification of courses after three years of schooling in junior secondary level. Vocational and technical courses are offered in vocational and trade institute/schools. Moreover, there are high schools where SSC (vocational) courses have been introduced.

In secondary education, there are three streams of courses such as, Humanities, Science and Business Education, which start at class IX, where the students are free to choose their course(s) of studies.

High schools are managed either by government or private individuals or organizations. Most of the privately managed secondary schools provide co-education. However, there are many single sex institutions in secondary level education.

The academic programme terminates at the end of class X when students are to appear at the public examination called S.S.C. (Secondary School Certificate). The Boards of Intermediate and Secondary Educations (BISE) conduct the S.S.C. examination. There are seven such Boards at different places in Bangladesh namely: Dhaka, Rajshahi, Jessore, Comilla, Chittagong, Sylhet, and Barisal.

The secondary education is designed to prepare the students to enter into the higher secondary stage. In higher secondary stage, the course is of two-year duration (XI - XII) which is being offered by Intermediate Colleges or by intermediate section of degree or master colleges.

c) Tertiary Education

i) College

The third stage of education is comprised of 2-6 years of formal schooling. The minimum requirement for admission to higher education is the higher secondary certificate (H.S.C). HSC holders are qualified to enroll in 3-year degree pass courses while for honours, they may enroll in 4-year bachelors' degree honours courses in degree level colleges or in the universities. After successful completion of a pass/honours bachelors' degree course, one can enroll in the master's degree course. Master degree courses are of one year for honours bachelor degree holders and 2 years for pass bachelor degree holders. For those aspiring to take up M.Phil and Ph.D courses in selected disciplines or areas of specialization, the duration is of 2 years for M.Phil and 3-4 years for Ph.Ds after completion of master's degree. Higher education is being offered in the universities and post HSC level colleges and institutes of diversified studies in professional, technical, technological and other special types of education.

ii) University

            There are 73 universities in Bangladesh. Out of these, 21 universities are in the public sector, while the other 52 are in the private sector. Out of 21 public sector universities, 19 universities provide regular classroom instruction facilities and services. Bangladesh Open University (BOU) conducts non-campus distance education programmes especially in the field of teacher education and offers Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) and Master of Education (M.Ed) degrees. BOU conducts 18 formal courses and 19 non-formal courses. Bangladesh National University mainly functions as an affiliating university for degree and post-graduate degree level education at different colleges and institutions in different field of studies. But in case of fine arts this university also offers Pre-Degree BFA Course (which is equivalent to HSC).After successful completion of the specified courses, it conducts final examinations and awards degree, diplomas and certificates to the successful candidates. The degrees are B.A., B.S.S., B.Sc., B.Com.  (Pass & Honours) BFA(Pass), M.A., M.Sc., M.S.S, M.Com. and MFA. Moreover, this university also offers LL.B., and other degrees. Bangladesh National University offers part-time training to university teachers.

There is only one medical university namely, "Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University", like other public universities, offers courses on a different system where FCPS Degree is offered in the disciplines of medical education; diploma courses are offered in 12 disciplines. MD degree in 15 subjects and MS courses on 8 subjects are also offered.

2. Madrasah Education

            The old scheme of madrasah education was introduced in 1780 with the establishment of Calcutta Madrasah. In madrasah education, one can learn Islamic religious education along with the general education as complementary to each other in the system of education. The madrasah education system has been continuing with some modifications according to the demand of the time, and many madrasahs grew up in this sub-continent. The government has been providing government grants to the teachers and employees of the non-government madrasahs like other non-government education institutions (schools and colleges). There are five levels in the madrasah education system, namely:

a. Primary level or ebtedayee education. This is equivalent to primary level of general education. The first level of madrasah education is comprised of 5 years of schooling  (grades I - V). Normally, the children of 6 years of age begins in class 1 and finishes class V at the age of 11 years. Ebtedayee education is imparted in independent ebtedayee madrasahs and ebtedayee sections of dhakhil, alim, fazil and kamil madrasahs. It is also imparted in some of the private quami - kharizi madrasahs.

b. Secondary level. The secondary level of madrasah education is comprised of 7 (5+2) years of  formal schooling. It takes five years in dhakhil stage (S.S.C. level) from grade VI - X while the last 2 years in alim (higher secondary) stage. Dhakhil level education is imparted in dhakhil madrasahs and in dhakhil level of alim, fazil and kamil madrasahs. Alim is equivalent to higher secondary certificate education imparted to alim madrasahs and in alim level of fazil and kamil madrasahs.

            There are diversification of courses after three years of schooling in secondary level of education from grade IX of dhakhil stage and grade XI of alim stage. There are streams of courses such as humanities, science and business education, where students are free to choose their courses of studies. Private individuals or private bodies manage all madrasahs of this level. Most of these madrasahs provide co-education. However, there are some single gender madrasahs in this level of madrasah education. There are two public examinations namely; dhakhil and alim after the completion of 10 years of schooling and twelve years of education, respectively. The Bangladesh Madrasah Education Board (BMEB) provides these two certificates.

c.  Tertiary level of madrasah education. This level is comprised of 4 (2+2) years of formal education. The minimum requirement for admission to higher level of madrasah education is the alim (equivalent to HSC) certificates . Alim pass students are qualified to enroll in 2-year fazil education. This level of education is imparted in fazil madrasah and in fazil level of kamil madrasahs. After successful completion of fazil degree one can enroll in 2 -years kamil level education. There are four streams of courses in kamil level education; streams are hadis, tafsir, fiqh and adab. Bangladesh Madrasah Education Board conducts these two fazil and kamil examinations and award certificates. After successful completion of the specified courses one can appear these examinations.

            Out of the total kamil the government manages madrasahs only three madrasahs and others are managed by either individual or by private bodies. However, there are few girls' madrasah for girl students.

The Bangladesh Madrasah Education Board has the following functions as regard to madrasah education: grants affiliations to different levels of madrasahs from ebtedayee to kamil; prescribes syllabi and curricula; conducts public examinations (dhakhil to kamil) and scholarship examinations. Besides the public system of madrasah education there are a good number of private madrasahs for the Muslim students, namely: hafizia, qiratia, quami and nizamiah. Most of these madrasahs are residential. These type of madrasah are sometimes called kharizia as these are beyond the purview of the general system of education. Recently, these quami madrasahs have been organized under the umbrella of a private board known as 'Befaqul Madaris or Quami Madrasah Board which constitutes curricula and syllabi of quami madrasahs, conducts examinations and awards certificates and degrees.

3. Technical - Vocational

For the students whose interest are not strictly academic may find technical-vocational programmes more interesting and more valuable for their future. Government tries to ensure that the course curriculum should be relevant to students' interest and aspirations while at the same time it should address the needs of the job market.

a. Primary level. There is no technical-vocational institution in primary level of education. Ebtedayee in the first level (Primary level) of madrasah education has no scope for technical-vocational education. Accordingly, technical - vocational education in Bangladesh is designed in three phases under two major levels of secondary and tertiary level of education.

b. Secondary level. Vocational courses starts from secondary level. The certificate courses prepare skilled workers in different vocations starting from ninth grade after completion of three years of schooling in secondary school. At this level the courses are diversified in different vocations spread over 1 to 2 years duration. Recently, 2 years duration vocational courses have been introduced at the higher secondary level in government managed vocational training institute (renamed as Technical School & College). Diploma courses prepare the diploma engineers at the polytechnic institutes. This course spread over 4 years duration after passing the secondary school certification examination. There is a technical education board called Bangladesh Technical Education Board (BTEB), which grants affiliation to the technical institutes. It conducts examinations of the students completing different courses in different vocational and technical education, and awards certificates to the successful candidates.

4. Professional Education

The College of Textile Technology and College of Leather Technology offer four -year degree courses in Textile Engineering and Leather Technology respectively after completing Higher Secondary Education. The minimum requirement to be admitted to teachers training colleges (TTCs) for Bachelor of Education, Bachelor of Physical Education in Physical Education College  is graduation degree. Generally, in-service teachers undertake this professional training course along with some unemployed graduates. Professional education also imparted in Medical Colleges, Dental Colleges, Nursing College, Homeopathic Colleges, Law Colleges etc.

5. Other Types of Education

5.1 Religious and Moral Education

            One of the aims of education is to establish human, cultural and social values in every tier and sphere of individual and national life. Religious and moral education is one of the ways of achieving this aim.

            The followers of every religion of the country have the right to learn the main subjects of their respective religions, acquire knowledge about rituals and ceremonies of their respective religion. Religious and moral education is imparted with this end in view.

i)            Islamic Studies

            In order to lead life according to the Islamic tenets and regulations, it is indispensable for every Muslim male/female to receive Islamic education and implement these in their day to day life.

ii)         Hindu - Religious Studies

            Bangladesh Sanskrit and Pali Board conducts 3- year course on Sanskrit and religious subjects. These subjects are Adhya in the first year, Madhya in the second year and Upadhi in the third year. Sanskrit language, Prourahitta, Smriti (Hindu law) etc. subjects are included in the courses.

            Bangladesh Sanskrit and Pali Board is not an independent or autonomous organization. The Director General of the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education by virtue of the post is the Chairman of Sanskrit and Pali Board and Management Parishad. Authorized by the Ministry of Education the Chairman conducts all activities of the Board. An honorary member of the Management Parishad plays the role of Secretary. There are tols (schools for teaching Sanskrit), choupathies and colleges under the control of Bangladesh Sanskrit and Pali Board. The minimum requirement to be admitted in these courses is SSC. After completion of 3-year course, one can get the title "Teertha". For each subject, the 3-year course Adhya, Madhya and Upadhi is to be completed separately.

iii)            Buddhist Religious Studies

            The system of Buddhist religious studies and the Buddhist religious language Pali are almost similar to that of Hindu religious studies. There is 3-year title course in Pali and 'Bisharad' is offered in Pali instead of Teertha. Bangladesh Sanskrit and Pali Board conducts traditional system of Pali education. There are about a hundred of Pali Tolls in the country.

iv)            Christian Religious Education

            To meet the religious education needs of Christians in Bangladesh, there are Bible schools and intermediate seminaries which enroll students in the SSC; there are also major seminaries and theological colleges where students with HSC are admitted. The successful students are awarded degrees both in Bachelor and Masters in Theology and Divinity. These are all run and managed by the Church bodies which cater to the needs of different denominations of Christianity.

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Education Systems in Bangladesh is being managed and administered by two Ministries viz. Ministry of Education (MOE) and Ministry of Primary and Mass Education (MOPME) in association with the attached Departments and Directorates as well as a number of autonomous bodies.

Ministry of Educaiton (MOE) :

This Ministry is concerned with policy formulation, planning, monitoring, evaluation and execution of plans and programmes related to secondary and higher education including technical & madrasah education. The line directorates, viz.. Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education and Directorate of Technical Education are responsible for management and supervision of institutions under their respective control.

Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education (DSHE): This Directorate is headed by the Director-General who is responsible for administration, management and control of secondary and higher education including madrasah and other special types of education. It is assisted by sub-ordinate Offices located at the divisional, district and thana levels.  

The Directorate of Technical Education (DTE): This Directorate is headed by the Director-General and is responsible for the management and administration of technical & vocational institutions like polytechnics, monotechnics and other similar types of institutes. It has Inspectorate Offices at the Divisional Headquarters.

Bangladesh National Commission for UNESCO (BNCU): This organisation functions as a corporate body within the MOE. This is headed by the Minister of Education as Chairman and the Education Secretary as the Secretary-General. The Commission consists of 69 members constituted by eminent educationists and intellectuals interested in educational, scientific and cultural matters in the country. A senior official designated as Secretary normally heads the Secretariat of the Commission.

Chief Accounts Office (CAO): In pursuance of the Government a separate accounts office under a Chief Accounts Officer (C.A.O) does policy of decentralization the accounting function of the MOE.
National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB): This Board is an autonomous organisation under the Ministry of Education (MOE). It performs the responsibility of renewal/modification and development of curriculum, production and distribution of textbooks at primary, secondary and higher secondary levels.
National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB): This Board is an autonomous organisation under the Ministry of Education (MOE). It performs the responsibility of renewal/modification and development of curriculum, production and distribution of textbooks at primary, secondary and higher secondary levels.
Bangladesh Bureau of Educational Information and Statistics (BANBEIS): This organization is responsible for collection, compilation and dissemination of educational information and statistics at various levels and types of education. This organization is the Apex Body of the Educational management Information System (EMIS) of the country. It is also the National Coordinator of RINSACA  (Regional Informatics for South & Central Asia). Recently. it has been assigned  with the important task of selection. processing and computerization of data necessary for awarding government subvention to all the private education institutions.
Directorate of Inspection and Audit ( DIA): This Directorate is headed by the Director and is responsible for inspection and audit aimed at improving the standard of education of the institutions at the secondary level.
Further more, a number of autonomous bodies have a share in the administration of education. These are :
University Grants Commission (UGC): The University Grants Commission is responsible for co-ordinating activities of the universities and distributing government grants of them.
National University: This is an Affiliating University responsible for academic control of all the affiliated colleges offering courses in Degree Pass, Honours and Masters and for conducting Bachelor Degree and Master's examinations.
Education Boards: Seven Boards of Intermediate and Secondary Education are responsible for conducting the SSC and HSC level public examinations.
Madrasah Education Board: This Board is responsible for conducting public examinations from Dakhil to kamil levels.
Technical Education Board: This Board is entrusted with the task of conducting certificate and diploma examinations in technical education.

Ministry of Primary & Mass Education (MOPME)

Bangladesh is committed to the World Declaration on Education for All (Jomtein, March 1990) and the Convention on the Right of Children (New York, September 1990).

Recognizing the importance of primary and non-formal education in ensuring education for all and eradicating illiteracy, the Government created a new Division called Primary and Mass Education Division (PMED) in August 1992. This Division is now operating as a Ministry. The Ministry of Primary and Mass Education is responsible for policy formulation, planning, evaluation and execution of plans and initiating legislative measures relating to primary and non-formal education.

Directorate of Primary Education (DPE): This Directorate controls, coordinates and regulates the field administration of the primary education. The Directorate of Primary Education was created in 1981 with a view to giving full attention to primary education as an independent organization. The Director-General heads it. Under this Directorate there are 6 Divisional (regional) Officers, 64 District Offices and 481 Thana Offices.

National Academy for Primary Education (NAPE): This is an apex institution for training and research in the field of primary education, which is headed by a Director and governed by a Board of Governors headed by the Secretary, PMED. There are 53 government and 1 private Primary Training Institute. They offer 1-year Certificate-in-Education course to teachers of primary schools.

Bureau of Non-formal Education (BNFE) : A Directorate was created in 1995 with the responsibility of execution of policy decisions and plans relating to non-formal education. The Non-formal Education Programmes were then implemented through (a) NGO run centre-based literacy programme. (b) total literacy movement by the District/Thana administration. This Directorate  has been abolished and started functioning as Bureau of Non-formal Education.

Compulsory Primary Education Implementation Monitoring Unit: After the enactment of Primary Education (Compulsory) Act of 1990, the Government created the Compulsory Primary Education Implementation Monitoring Unit in 1991, headed by the Director-General with the responsibility to monitor the compulsory primary education programme at the field level and conduct child-survey to collect information on the numbers of primary school-age population and children attending schools.

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