Access not easy for slum kids to quality education


Sajeeb Hasan Joy :

People who live in impoverished areas usually lack access to basic amenities.

Bangladesh struggles to make ends meet on a meagre wage and nearly always lives below the poverty line.

Many earn inconsistent incomes from low-paying activities including pushing rickshaws, selling goods on the street, working as day laborers, or performing various household tasks.

In fact, people who live in slums usually don’t have easy access to education.

Unofficial or non-governmental organization (NGO)-run schools may exist in impoverished neighborhoods, but the quality of education they provide may be subpar.

Furthermore, because they are unable to pay for their children’s education, many families decide to use child labor as a way to augment household income.

However, the educational status of slum dwellers varies widely depending on the country and region.

Slum dwellers often face significant challenges in accessing quality education due to factors such as poverty, lack of infrastructure, inadequate government support, and social exclusion.

In Bangladesh, slum dwellers face numerous challenges in accessing education due to poverty, inadequate infrastructure, and social marginalization.

However, both national and international mechanisms are in place to address these issues and improve the educational status of slum dwellers.

Preliminary Population and Housing Census 2022 study estimates that over 18 lakh people live in slums across the country, while 22,185 individuals are homeless.

The census indicates that Mymensingh has the fewest slums, whereas Dhaka has the greatest proportion of slum dwellers.

There are 8.84 lakh slum inhabitants in Dhaka and 36,491 slum dwellers in Mymensingh.

Bangladesh frequently experiences natural disasters like floods and cyclones, which pose a special threat to slum inhabitants. Such catastrophes are too strong for their improvised dwellings, resulting in casualties and destruction of property.

In their groups and in larger society, they also accept prejudice and social stigma. Additionally, the primary area of deprivation is education. People live in cramped, overpopulated places in slums where there are no educational opportunities.


Article 8 of the Bangladeshi Constitution declares that the main tenets of state policy shall be nationalism, socialism, democracy, and secularism, as well as values deriving from those outlined in this section.

The principles outlined in this section will serve as a foundation for the government of Bangladesh, be applied by the State when drafting laws, serve as a guide for interpreting the Constitution and other laws of the country, and serve as the basis for the work that both the State and its citizens do. However, they will not be subject to judicial enforcement.

Free and compulsory education is guaranteed by Article 17 of the Constitution. According to the constitution, the state must take appropriate action to create a consistent, universal, mass-oriented educational system and to provide free, obligatory education to all children up to the point that the law may specify.

Several sections of the penal code have been breached by them, including 319, 320, 378, 383, 390, and 391. Early marriage, which is prohibited by the Child Marriage Restriction Act of 1929, is a hot topic among slum dwellers.

Some governments have implemented programs to improve education access for slum dwellers. These initiatives may include building schools in slum areas, providing scholarships or subsidies for education, and implementing outreach programs to encourage school attendance.

One important document in the history of human rights is the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).According to Article 26 of the UDHR, every person has the right to an education. At the very least, free primary and basic education is required. It will be mandatory to receive an elementary education.

All people should have equal access to technical and professional education, and higher education should be granted to everyone on the basis of merit.

The UDHR further states that education must focus on fostering respect for fundamental freedoms and human rights as well as the full development of the individual. It will advance the United Nations’ efforts to maintain peace and foster friendship, tolerance, and understanding among all nations, ethnicities, and religious groups.

Numerous international agreements, such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW, 1979), the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR, 1966), and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC, 1989), have established the right to education. People who live in slums have the same rights to pursue their education as anyone else. They are not an exception.

The United Nations has set global targets for education under the SDGs, including ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education for all. Goal 4 specifically aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all,” which includes addressing the needs of marginalized groups such as slum dwellers.

Global dynamics of education development have an impact on the Maldives’ educational system (Di Biase, 2019). Following UNESCO’s 2000 introduction of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), the Maldives embraced the Education for All program and duly reported on attaining the objective of granting all citizens national access to primary education (Ministry of Education, 2008). Due to local efforts for basic education and literacy programs, the Maldives also registered an exceptional 98.94% literacy rate when compared to neighboring countries.

The Maldives’ school system experienced remarkable progress in the 1990s. Every inhabited island has a school now, thanks to the cooperation of nations like Japan and international financial organizations like the World Bank, United Nations, and Asian Development Bank.

Although the UDHR established education to be a human right and the constitution states that education is a fundamental right, children living in slums lack access to high-quality, comprehensive educational facilities. It’s common knowledge that children in underprivileged communities engage in a range of illegal activities and crimes, mainly as a result of receiving insufficient instruction and supervision.

Numerous national and international organizations, non-governmental organizations, businesses, politicians, and the general public offer assistance to children living in slums across the country. For our nation’s slum children to receive a residential education system, cooperation between the public, the government, and other stakeholders can be vital. The chances of the government programs succeeding are higher when they work together and receive support. Financial support from other countries, such as Japan, as well as from global financial institutions like the World Bank, United Nations, and Asian Progress Bank, could be another helpful step in the advancement of that project.

Despite these efforts, significant challenges persist in improving the educational status of slum dwellers. These challenges include inadequate funding, insufficient infrastructure, cultural barriers, and the need for comprehensive approaches that address not only access to education but also factors such as poverty, health, and social inclusion. More concerted efforts from governments, international organizations, NGOs, and local communities are necessary to address these challenges and ensure that all individuals, including those living in slums, have access to quality education.

(The author is a 3rd year student, Department of Law, North South University)