Access to education as ‘rights’ and ‘ability’. A case study of access to basic education in Bangladesh

Master's Thesis, 2015

44 Pages, Grade: 71


Table of Contents



List of Tables

List of abbreviations/acronyms

Section 1: Introduction
Focus and objectives of the project
Research questions and associated propositions
An overview of the analytical framework and its application
Research methodology
Overview of the project

Section 2: Analytical Framework
Access as ‘right’ and ‘ability’
Access ‘right’ and ‘ability’ in relation to education
Access ‘right’ and ‘ability’ in relation to education in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals
A synthesis

Section 3: Empirical Analysis
Policy commitments: recognising the ‘right’ to access education
Policy commitments: recognising the ‘ability’ to access education
Policy achievements: fostering the ‘right’ to access education
Policy achievements: fostering the ‘ability’ to access education
The special case of Indigenous Peoples’ access to education
Beyond 2015: access to education and the underlying significance of the Sustainable Development Goals
A synthesis

Section 4: Conclusion
Main findings & their significance
Policy recommendations
Suggested lines of future research
Concluding observations


Education is a catalyst for human development. Considering this fact access to basic education is made free and compulsory for all citizens in Bangladesh. Government has been taking numerous policy measures and programmatic interventions to enhance the access to education and thus to achieve the target of 100 per cent access to education by 2015. However this study using secondary research method reveals that despite of achievements in some areas there are still notable gaps between achievements and targets. This study uses an analytical lens constructed with rights and ability notions of access. It analyses the present scenario in access to education to explore to what extent the education system is providing rights of access to education. At the same time it examines the efficiency of the education system and policies to what extent those are able to empower the students with ability to enter, sustain and succeed in basic education. The study has found commendable achievement in enrolment and gender disparity. However, from the ability perspective the education system is still not enough inclusive with ethnic and socio-economic disparity. Special measures need to be taken in the area of access to education of children with special needs, access to education of indigenous peoples and more investments in infrastructure.


I would like to sincerely thank my supervisor Professor Dr. Ian Thynne for his supervision. He was always there with help and suggestions. I am grateful to him. I have learnt a lot regarding research and writing from him. Moreover I would like to thank Professor Alison Cumming-Thom for being generous in teaching with cutting edge tips and techniques in writing. I will be grateful to both of them

List of Tables

Table 1: Gross Enrolment Rate (GER) & Net Enrolment Rate (NER) by year and gender 27

Table 2: Gross Intake Rate and Net Intake Rate by year and gender 28

Table 3: Repetition Rate by year and gender in (%) 30

Table 4: Repetition rate in percentage for year 2014 30

Table 5: Year wise dropout rate in (%) 31

Table 6: Grade wise dropout rate for 2014 in (%) 31

Table 7: Year wise survival rate in percentage 32

Table 8: Year wise completion rate in percentage 32

Table 9: Year wise coefficient of efficiency 33

Table 10: Year wise year input per graduate 33

Table 11: C-in-Ed training of teachers in percentage for the year 2014 34

List of abbreviations/acronyms

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Section 1: Introduction

Focus and objectives of the research

This research project addresses the issue of access to education as right and ability with special focus on the case of access to basic education in Bangladesh. Its objectives are to explore what policies and legislative provisions are in place to ensure right of access to education, to evaluate the extent to which the education system provides accessibility to the children. In addressing the research topic this study also aims to explore the extent to which various policies and programs empower the children to easily enter into the education, sustain and progress to the next level of education.

Education is considered as a catalyst for economic and human development worldwide. It enables individuals to respond to social and economic needs by equipping with necessary knowledge, skills and understanding of the dynamics of social and economic relationship. Therefore, Bangladesh has also been encircling its social, economic and political development around education since its independence. Education is the strongest driving force of all developmental activities in Bangladesh which has been reflected on its policy discourse. Acknowledging education as one of the fundamental human rights Bangladesh is committed to provide basic primary education to its all citizens. Free compulsory basic primary education is human right in Bangladesh which certainly posits the state in one hand on duty bearer role, citizens the right claimer on the other. These separated but interrelated and inter-depended roles are crucial for enjoyment of right to education. Therefore, access to education in Bangladesh entails the dynamics of entitlement as well as reality check of availability and capability to benefit from the entitlement.

Numerous studies have been conducted in the field of access to education. Studies have been mostly conducted based on the notions of equity, equality of opportunity, universalism and rights. Access to education has been conceptualized from the perspective of equal accessibility to education based on financial affordability (Maile 2004). It has also been seen from the perspective of equity in access to education based on universalism (Acedo 2010). Access to education has been researched as full integration of the students into education system (Lewin & Little 2011). In international and national policy tools and instruments access to education has been conceptualized as universal rights and mechanism for inclusion (UNESCO 2005). Although there are number of researches on access, very little is done on access to education in particular. Moreover, in case of access to education in Bangladesh most of researches are based on rights, equity, equality of opportunity and poverty. Hossain & Zeitlyn 2010 has explored the impact of poverty on enrolment and thus on access to education. Ahmed et al 2007 has done exploratory situation analysis focusing on poverty, gender, disadvantages and policy implications. Among others Rahman 2010 has focused on the dimension exclusion in accessing education and suggested multilingual education for culturally marginalized peoples. Choudhury 2011 has studied the accessibility of disable children from the perspective of inclusion. However theoretically as well as country specific very little research has been done in terms of access to education as ‘rights’ and ‘ability’. Access is mostly seen from the rights perspective. The ability dimension has been mostly overlooked.

Research questions and associated propositions

In exploring access to education in Bangladesh, this study addresses two research questions:

- What national policies and programs are in place to foster access to pre-primary and primary education in Bangladesh?
- To what extent have the policies and programs increased access to pre-primary and primary education in Bangladesh?

The study addresses these questions using a constructed analytical lens to explore what policies and legislative provisions are in place to establish the right of access to pre-primary and primary education and to foster the ability of students to exercise that right of access.

An overview of the analytical framework and its application

This project conceptualizes the notion of access to education from the perspective of ‘right’ and ‘ability’. It constructs the analytical framework based on access theory to vitalize the inner meaning of access by accommodating both claimable rights and ability. It synthesizes the access to education with rights and ability with the significance of sustainable development goals. It argues that access is not only about entry but also progression towards success. Moreover access is not only entitlement, but also ability to use that entitlement.

Using this framework this project empirically analyses the data on access to pre-primary and primary education in Bangladesh. The analysis reveals that Bangladesh has achieved remarkable progress in some indicators of access to primary education. However, from the ability perspective there are still gaps such as exclusion, inefficiency and ethnic disparity. This project gives particular focus on indigenous peoples of Bangladesh, as the analysis reveals their significant exclusion within the system.

Research methodology

The study analyses data against various indicators to explore the effectiveness of policy commitments and programs in ensuring rights and ability of students. It also considers the policy and program implications for overarching sustainable development goals.

This is a secondary research based on secondary data available from the Directorate of Primary Education (DEP) of Bangladesh. It uses data from the Annual Primary School Census 2014 report. The data range is 10 years from 2005 to 2014. This study uses the data to explore the trends, similarity and disparity against the indicators used in the census.

The study adopts desktop research using secondary data as method due to the nature of the study topic. The subject matter access to education is widely researched and the body of knowledge is readily available online for use. Similarly the policy instruments regarding right of access to education are also available for research. Additionally the empirical data the main source of analysis are also readily available which are already processed and refined. Thus the study context itself is appropriate for the desktop, secondary research method to be studied with.

Overview of the research

Including this section introduction this paper is structured into 4 separate sections. By setting the scene the introduction addresses the objectives of the research, brief review of significant researches in the field, significance of the study, methodology and outline. Section 2 constructs an analytical framework based on literature review on access, access to education and sustainable development goals. It conceptualizes the access as rights and ability based on access theory linking it to equality and social justice with special significance for education and thus sustainable development goals. Section 3 deals with the empirical analysis where it examines the data on various indicators such as enrolment rate, dropout rate, survival rate, completion rate, student-teacher ratio and efficiency. The section 4 concludes the research by drawing upon the findings based on analytical framework, policy recommendations and suggestions for future research.

Section 2: Analytical Framework


This section establishes an analytical lens based on literature concerning access, education and sustainable development goals. These matters are interrelated with access theory and the structures and dynamics of education being aligned with peoples’ rights and ability in the context of sustainable development goals.

Access as ‘right’ and ‘ability’

Access is very broad and complex concept. Generally it indicates the degree of accessibility to and availability of anything. It can be defined as the ways through which any form of entitlement can be enjoyed. Access can be conceptualized with particular significance in terms of goods and services. Goods and services are generally offered with the degree of accessibility and availability depending on their nature. Accessibility and availability depend on approaches, actions and organizations (Thynne & Peters 2014, p. 2-3).

Access involves arrangements concerning the easy and ready availability of goods and services. It requires specific action to ensure easy derivation or enjoyment of accessibility to goods and services making them readily available (Thynne & Peters 2014, p 5; Ostrom & Ostrom 1977). In order to foster the availability and accessibility it is also necessary to eradicate the barriers which might cause the exclusion, particularly in regards to public goods and services. Eradication of any kind of barriers is very important in making the goods and services easily accessible and readily available to avoid any form of exclusion, especially in case of public goods.

The broad notion of access consists of two dimensions: ‘right’ and ‘ability’. A right or rights can be defined as the legal, justified, recognized and protected entitlement or claim to anything (Burton 2007). In relation to access, rights are embedded in legal grounds for an access-seeker to claim an entitlement or benefit. Ability concerns the actual capacity of an access-seeker to enjoy the rights of access through various means inherent in the system. The combination of rights and ability requires that accessibility to any specific good or service comprise three dimensions: availability to all without any legal or other basis of discrimination, easy access without any physical barriers, and no economic conditions that limit or deny enjoyment or benefit (Sidoti 2000; Ribot & Peluso 2003, p. 153).

Access in broad sense indicates opportunities and abilities to derive benefits from any resources, systems, institutions, objects, symbols and relationships. Access has been conceptualized focusing on the flow, recipients, mechanism and time of actual benefits from certain things i.e. policies or resources or relationships (Ribot & Peluso 2003, p. 154). It is the process where individuals or groups enjoy the entitlement to particular service by systematic entrance or through distribution system. The derivation of benefits through an access process depends on ‘ who does get what, what ways, and when ’ (Ribot & Peluso 2003, p. 154). Access to particular goods and services generally indicate both the entitlement of that individual or group to enjoy the benefits from that service as well as enabling environment and ability to derive the benefits.

In one hand comparatively narrower and direct entitlement linkage to any resource is claimable right to enjoy the benefits which can be seen as the legitimate or illegitimate rights of ‘access’ process. Ability represents the actual capabilities or inabilities to derive the benefits from particular resource or system on the other, which enumerates wider social relationships rather than narrower property rights or ownerships (Ribot & Peluso 2003, p. 154). Moreover, the access process itself corresponds with particular distribution system either market or non-market in determining ‘rights’ and ‘ability’ where resource possession enables individuals or groups to establish organizational relationships in deriving benefits as well as the distribution system itself offers entitlements through allocations and necessary provisions (Schaffer & Wen-hsien 1975, p. 17). Therefore, ‘right’ and ‘ability’ can be seen as two important ends of ‘access process’ spectrum.

Individuals or groups are accordingly positioned within the access process depending on the power dynamics of social relationships. A range of powers are generally exercised in this access process in the form of ‘bundle of powers’ within the ‘web of powers’ where different people, different institutions, different groups hold different dynamics of these powers in terms of deriving benefits from the resources or services (Ribot & Peluso 2003, p. 154). Eventually these power dynamics determine who does what, who gets what, when and how. Some people or organizations or institutions get the direct control of access to resources. They control this access with the power dynamics irrespective of their legal or illegal entitlement while, there are some people or institutions who gain access and maintain it through those people or institutions that have direct control over access to resources (Ribot & Peluso 2003, p. 154). Therefore, the power dynamics related to access determine beneficiary of a particular resource or service depending on individual’s ability to exercise power from the ‘bundles’ and ‘webs’ of power depending on the social relationships.

Access is a continuous process in terms of deriving benefits effectively from resources using both ‘right’ and ‘ability’. A meaningful access can be conceptualized as gaining access to derive the benefits through a systematic entry interface, controlling the dynamics of benefit deriving process either direct influence or via any individual, organization or group of individuals and maintain that influence over time to get the benefits from the resources or services (Ribot & Peluso 2003, p. 158-159). In this way access becomes a process of ‘identifying and mapping’ the mechanisms for entry, control and sustain the benefits (Ribot & Peluso 2003, p. 160). Maximizing the access in its fullness with smooth entry, balanced control and sustained enjoyment of benefits the access process requires built-in linkage to the legitimate distribution process through political lobby or any linking mechanism (Schaffer & Wen-hsien 1975, p. 17). The access process thus requires not only efficient access mechanism in place but also individuals’ or groups’ ability to position themselves into the process as well as political bargaining in social and political context.


Excerpt out of 44 pages


Access to education as ‘rights’ and ‘ability’. A case study of access to basic education in Bangladesh
The Australian National University  (Crawford School of Public Policy)
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ISBN (Book)
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Access Rights, Education, Bangladesh, Indigenous Pleople
Quote paper
Asim Dio (Author), 2015, Access to education as ‘rights’ and ‘ability’. A case study of access to basic education in Bangladesh, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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