Room to Read

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Poverty, Child Labor Contribute to Dismal Literacy Rates

After a war of independence separated Bangladesh from Pakistan in 1971, natural disasters, famines, political turmoil, and military coups plagued the fledgling country. In 1991, despite economic advancements after the implementation of parliamentary democracy, challenges loom. Home to 159 million residents, Bangladesh is one of the world’s most densely populated countries. Poverty is in decline, but 31.5 percent of the population still lives below the poverty line and the country remains 142nd out of 179 countries on the Human Development Index. Many young children work to contribute to family incomes, which makes it difficult for them to attend school. In part due to this reality, Bangladesh has one of the lowest adult literacy rates in Southeast Asia.

Our Work in Bangladesh

Room to Read initially focused on rural areas—particularly the sandbar islands of the Sirajganj District, the low-lying terrain of the Brahamanbaria District, and the remote plains of the Natore District. We have made great strides in these districts, and our strong relationships with the local communities have helped us support primary school students and girls battling long-standing cultural barriers. In 2015, we expanded beyond rural areas and began our Literacy and Girls’ Education Programs within the city of Dhaka.

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