Education Policy of Bangladesh



‘Language is the armory of the human mind; and at once contains the trophies of its past and the weapons of its future conquests’ (Said, 1991, p. 136).


Bangladesh is one of the poorest nations in the world – a country in which 98% of the people speak the national language Bangla and identify themselves as Bangladeshi nationals. There are also 45 or more indigenous groups which form linguistic minorities in the country, speaking more than 30 different languages, and ethno-linguistically different from the majority of the Bangla-speaking population. Considering the increasing importance of English in national modernization, the government and the educational policy makers in Bangladesh have taken steps to bring changes in English language teaching. One of these attempts is to use English as the only language of instruction which requires teachers to use the target language exclusively while teaching in the class

In Bangladesh English is not a new phenomenon. Its origin and spread go back to its political history as a part of the Indian sub-continent under the British Empire. British Empire ruled the Indian subcontinent for about more than two hundred years. As a legacy of the British rule English became the official language of British India. Its status as the medium of education was confirmed by the approval of Macaulay’s Minute (1835) and other language policies following it. Since their independence like India and Pakistan, in existing Bangladesh also, English, plays an important role in national life. It is unofficially recognized as a second official/state language. The study critically examines English language policy and planning in Bangladesh to provide an in-depth understanding of how, over time, the English in Education policy has changed. In addition, it analyses policy outcomes and the complex set of factors that have hindered the successful implementation of quality English language teaching in Bangladesh. Proficiency in the English language is considered as an indicator of success also in Bangladesh. A good level of proficiency is a prerequisite for getting a good job there. Regarding the importance of learning the English language in Bangladesh, Imam (2005) reports: “In Bangladesh it is now essential for even factory worker, who earn less than the minimum wage, to know some English, the language of the labels on goods and packaging” (Imam 2005, p. 480).

Kaplan and Baldauf (2003),theoretical language framework was utilized as an analysis tool , along with the research articles that are meant to be used as a secondary source of information, moreover SCOPUS and google scholar was incorporated for search pertaining to relevant keywords filtered by different years ,in the end Kaplan and Baldauf’s 6 policies were used to formulate findings.

The Historical Evolution of the English language and also the importance in the politics and society of Bangladesh is inescapable. It is observed that Bengali dominates everyday language use in Bangladesh. But for maintaining the balance with the rest of the world, English plays a central role. That is, the expansion of the English language was not wholly a forced phenomenon. Rather it was the need of the hour for which the Missionaries, the natives and the government worked together to meet the need. In the post-colonial phase, Bangladesh policies and planning not only continued but also even extended the use of English in every walk of life.

The 200-year history of British colonial rule and its politically inspired regressive education policy left the country without any time-appropriate policy direction and misplaced emphasis on lesser issues. Within such an elitist education system, English was the only medium of communication for administration, judicial work, and media communication. English medium schools were created to produce generations of privileged albeit subordinated groups of native people as administrators and professionals in power.

All the stockholders with in education system and every aspect of language policy is covered by Kaplan and Baldauf’s (2003) language in education framework. The components of which are:

  • Access policy: who will learn “what language “at “what time”.
  • Personnel policy: Teachers training be it in service or other way around pre-service.
  • Curriculum, methods and materials policy: Goals are curriculum are implemented not only through methods and materials but there are several other constraints as well incorporating micro-teaching policies and specific teaching goal.
  • Resourcing policy: financing pertaining to language education.
  • Community policy: Community policy contains guidelines on, funding sources, and recruiting teachers and students along with parental guidelines.
  • Evaluation policy: Assessment of teaching, student success along with curriculum

Education is the key to the overall development of a nation and it is extremely important for the development of children’s minds and its impact falls upon students’ entire lives. As a third world country and a former British colony, Bangladesh has seen a dramatic upsurge in the use of the English language. English was given preference in the National Education Policy, however, in the case of Bangladesh, this did not happen due to the lack of planning and clear vision behind the policy (Ali & Walker, 2014). More importantly, it resulted in poor quality of English language education in the country.  In order to match with the advent of English, Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) for teaching English was first introduced in the secondary and higher secondary levels of Bangladesh in the 1990s by the National Curriculum and Textbook Board keeping the notion of developing communicative competence in the global context (Binoy, Sultana, &Basu, 2007).
Due to teachers’ belief and cultural disintegration required CLT curriculum is not implemented yet in Bangladesh’s schools, in this regard inclusive methods pertaining to culture and language teaching should beadopted as an alternative.

Additional Articles for interested readers. Happy Reading!

Imam, S.R. (2005). English as a global language and Question of Nation-Building Education in Bangladesh. Taylor & Francis Ltd., 41 (4), 471-486

Aketruzzaman, M., Islam, R. (2017). English, Education and Globalization: A Bangladesh Perspective. IAFOR Journal of Education 5 (1), 185-206.

Rahman, M. M., Pandian, A., (2018). The Chaotic English Language Policy and Planning in Bangladesh: Areas of Apprehension. Pertanika Journals of Social Sciences and Humanities, 26 (2), 893-908.