Case Study #1: Paying Girls to go to School in Bangladesh
In 1990, literacy rates among women in the South Asian country of Bangladesh were abysmal: only 20% of women in Bangladesh could read and write. In an attempt to improve this rate, the Bengali government joined forces with the World Bank (which supplied the vast majority of funding) in the Female Secondary School Assistance Project (FSSAP) and a follow-up project known as the FSSAP II.
The FSSAP programs rewarded girls in grades 6-10 who attended school with small cash stipends, ranging from 25 taka (about $0.42) to 60 taka (about $1). To receive the stipends, girls had to attend school regularly, remain unmarried, and score above a certain point on standardized tests.
The girls who participated in the FSSAP programs will have more assets in the future due to their education.
When the first FSSAP ended in 2001, it was deemed a success: enrollment of girls in secondary schools jumped considerably. Next came the FSSAP II, which will end in 2006. When the first FSSAP began, only around 400,000 students received payments. By 2001, more than a million were participating. Already, participants in the program are eager to utilize their newfound knowledge in their adult life. One student who was involved in the first FSSAP says she “want[s] to bring light to those who live in the darkness of illiteracy.” This attitude is also evident in students of the FSSAP II. Most say they enjoy school, and some have even received small scholarships from national talent searches.
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Bangladesh: School Girls' Power (PDF).
FEMALE SECONDARY SCHOOL ASSISTANCE PROJECT,
FSSAP II. 2005.
PovertyNet Libtrary: FSSAP. 2005.