Supporting The Public Sector of Bangladesh
Public spending on education was 2.4 per cent of GDP in 2008. There are five years of compulsory primary education and eight years of free education, starting at the age of six. Some 66 per cent of pupils complete primary school (2009). A parallel system of education – madrassa education – offers Islamic instruction from primary level up to postgraduate level.
Almost all primary schools are government managed, while secondary schools are managed either by government or private individuals or organisations. Most of the privately managed secondary schools provide co-education, however there are many single sex institutions in secondary education.
There are 73 universities in Bangladesh – 21 public, 52 private. There are several private universities in Dhaka. The Bangladesh Open University provides distance learning for a wide range of students at secondary and tertiary levels.
Technical and vocational education and training (TVET) is increasingly being seen as crucial for the development of human capital in Bangladesh. Bangladesh has extensive policy frameworks in place for the development of TVET with the aim of creating a more educated and skilled workforce. As a result, PPPs are becoming more widespread in this area.
Public spending on health was one per cent of GDP in 2010. Public sector medical facilities remain scarce, though there are clinics run by a major NGO, BRAC. The Bangladesh Medical College and Hospital is the largest of the private hospitals.
From 1996, naturally occurring arsenic was detected in the ground water (supplying over a million tube wells), putting nearly 50 per cent of the population at risk. By the 2000s there was an epidemic of health problems caused by arsenic poisoning.
Bangladesh has maintained a high level of immunisation coverage against diseases such as diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus and measles. There are 78 medical colleges in Bangladesh (2014). Infant mortality was 37 per 1,000 live births in 2011 (149 in 1960).
PPPs in the health sector are becoming more and more common, particularly in relation to family planning and urological diseases.
There are 239,230 km of roads, 9.5 per cent of which are paved. The 4.8 km Jamuna Multi-purpose Bridge was inaugurated in 1998, linking the east and west of the country by road and railway.
The government has sought to attract private investment in the transport sector through several policies and guidelines including the Private Sector Infrastructure Guidelines 2004. Actual private sector involvement in transport infrastructure, however, has been limited. Several projects have been implemented to attract private participation, including the proposed Dhaka Chittagong Expressway.
Railway: The rail network, 2,840 km in length, links the main towns and cities. Railways in the west are broad gauge, while those in the east are narrow gauge. Bangladesh Railway, the state-owned rail transport agency, operates and maintains the entire railway network.
Ports: Bangladesh contains 5,000–8,000 km of navigable waterway, depending on the extent of flooding, and a well-developed water transport network, carrying more than 30 per cent of domestic freight. The main ports are Chittagong and Mongla, Chittagong dealing with the bulk of foreign trade. Several private ferry companies operate in the country.
Airports: Zia International Airport, the main international gateway, is located 19 km north of Dhaka. Two of the main airlines operating from the country are GMG Airlines – the oldest and largest private carrier in Bangladesh – and Biman Bangladesh Airlines, which was wholly owned and managed by the Government of Bangladesh until 2007, when it was transformed into the country’s largest public limited company.