We are delighted to know from a report in this paper that, according to government data, female secondary students outnumber their male counterparts in 63 of the 64 districts. Here we must commend the government for successfully implementing its stipend programme targeting girl students. Donor-funded stipends have also helped in boosting enrolment of girls into primary and secondary schools. The recipients of stipends, moreover, do not have to pay tuition fees, which is a great incentive for parents to send their girls to school.
In fact these scholarships as well as vigorous campaigns by government and non-government organisations to promote girls' education has to a large extent, made parents see the value in getting their daughters educated. We give kudos to the girls too, for continuing their studies despite many economic and social constraints.
One of the challenges in this movement is of course making sure these girls do not drop out towards the end of their secondary school education. For this, experts have pointed out the need to create a safe environment for girls so that they are not harassed or stalked while going to and from school. This is one of the causes of the high incidence of child marriage in the country forcing many girls to drop out of school. The longer girls stay in school, the higher the chance for them to reach their full potential. It will allow them to get better paying jobs which will in turn, contribute to the country's development.
The government study has also found that enrolment of girls in secondary schools is lower in urban areas like Dhaka and Chattogram where stipends are not given. We hope that the government's plan to introduce the benefit in urban areas will be started soon so that girls from these areas are not deprived of education.
It is wonderful that a successful model to encourage girls' education has been found and is being replicated. The government must now make sure that the success continues and that the dropout rate for both girls and boys is significantly curtailed through further expanding stipends and other benefits. For a nation, there is no better asset than having an educated young population.