Whether and where to enrol? Choosing a primary school in the slums of urban Dhaka, Bangladesh


Slums account for around a third of the population of Dhaka, Bangladesh, and are thought to be growing rapidly. But there is little in the research literature about education of children who live in slums and it is doubtful whether they are covered in official statistics such as those on enrolment rates. This paper addresses this gap with information from a 2008 survey of around 1600 slum households. Most had incomes of less than US$1 per day per person, and faced problems including flooding, poor housing, and risk of eviction. A wide range of school types provided education to children from the study areas, but this varied a lot between different slums.

The paper focuses on how parents and children made decisions about schooling, in a context where the options on offer are less than ideal. Overall around 70% of children were enrolled in primary school. Most were in government or NGO schools, with minorities in madrasas and private schools. Almost half of the school-going children were supplementing their classes with private tuition. Regression analysis shows that children from wealthier households and with more highly educated parents, were more likely to be in school, more likely to be in a private school rather than other types, and less likely to be in an NGO school. However, location and the range of schools on offer were also important. The paper concludes by considering how government and NGOs could improve provision to the urban poor.


International Journal of Educational Development (2011) 31 (4) 357-366 [doi:10.1016/j.ijedudev.2011.01.004]

Whether and where to enrol? Choosing a primary school in the slums of urban Dhaka, Bangladesh

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