Bangladesh overhauling its school curriculum in an effort to stop child marriage

Bangladesh’s school curriculum will be overhauled, and a new topic on reproductive health will be introduced, as the country grapples with the highest rate of child marriage in more than two decades. 

Bangladesh has the highest rate of child marriage in South Asia, despite the legal age of marriage being 18 for women and 21 for men. , 38 million women were married before they turned 18 – 13 million before they turned 15 of the country’s 167 million population. 

During COVID-19 quarantines and lockdowns, the problem has gotten worse, exacerbating existing economic and social concerns. 

In December, State Minister for Primary and Mass Education Md. Zakir Hossain declared that the government would create a new curriculum to address the issue of child marriage. The new subject “Health Safety” will be introduced to increase awareness on child marriage, adolescent health, mental health, and other issues. 

While the subject will first be taught to secondary school students in grades six to ten, younger children may be introduced to it as well . 

By 2041, the Bangladeshi government hopes to have eliminated child marriage. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the country’s National Action Plan for Prevention, which was introduced in 2018. 

Because child marriage is linked to poverty and has an impact on girls’ educational possibilities, it was brought to the fore when Bangladeshi schools resumed in September and officials saw that many girls were missing class. 

For the time being, data on child marriage in Bangladesh during the pandemic is largely anecdotal, but UNICEF data from 2019 showed that more than 15.5 percent of Bangladeshi girls married when they were under the age of 15, and BRAC estimates that rate has risen by 13% to its highest level in the last 25 years. 

Generation Breakthrough, or GB, was a three-year pilot project run by the board in the southern region districts of Barguna, Barishal, and Patuakhali, where child marriage rates were among the highest in the country, and the results were positive. With only a year until the new curriculum is implemented, the textbook board is taking tiny initiatives to assist promote awareness. 

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