12 Things to Know: Access to Education and Training in South Asia

South Asia needs to invest more in education and skills training to improve economic opportunities for its growing youth population.

  1. The regional literacy rate in South Asia is 62.4% and enrollment ratios for secondary and tertiary education are low.
    Source: ADB publication Innovative Strategies in Higher Education for Accelerated Human Resource Development in South Asia
  1. South Asian countries need to invest significantly in human capital to reap the benefits arising from the limited window of demographic dividend from a growing young population in the next 3-4 decades and to move up the value chain.
    Source: ADB publication Innovative Strategies in Technical and Vocational Education and Training for Accelerated Human Resource Development in South Asia
  1. In South Asia, the number of higher education students jumped from 12.2 million in 2000 to 21.0 million in 2009, an annual expansion rate of 7%. In the process, South Asia more than tripled its average gross enrollment ratio (GER) in tertiary education from 4% in 1980 to 13% in 2009. In the coming years, the demand for higher education is expected to remain strong as a result of the prevailing secondary education GER of 56%.
    Source: ADB publication Innovative Strategies in Higher Education for Accelerated Human Resource Development in South Asia
  1. Private higher education, a comparatively recent phenomenon, now accounts for 28% of enrollments in South Asia and 35% in East Asia.
    Source: ADB publication Innovative Strategies in Higher Education for Accelerated Human Resource Development in South Asia
  1. Most of the countries in South Asia have few doctoral students, generally 2% or less of total higher education enrollments compared with about 5% in Europe and North America.
    Source: ADB publication Innovative Strategies in Higher Education for Accelerated Human Resource Development in South Asia
  1. Income inequalities shape the composition of the student population. In Bangladesh, for example, less than 20% of children from the lowest-income quintile enroll in grade 9, but close to 100% from the top income quintile do so.
    Source: ADB publication Innovative Strategies in Higher Education for Accelerated Human Resource Development in South Asia
  1. Students from lower-income groups are less likely to enter and complete higher education, a problem that is particularly pronounced in Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.
    Source: ADB publication Innovative Strategies in Higher Education for Accelerated Human Resource Development in South Asia
  1. From 1990 to 2009, South Asia has made progress in improving women’s access to higher education with a regional female participation rate of 41%. Only Sri Lanka, however, is on a par with East Asia with 57% female enrollment. Bangladesh and Pakistan have participation rates of a little above one-third. India has recorded relatively little progress over the same period.
    Source: ADB publication Innovative Strategies in Higher Education for Accelerated Human Resource Development in South Asia
  1. The proportion of upper secondary school children who receive vocational education in South Asia is extremely low at 1.2% compared with countries in East and Southeast Asia.
    Source: ADB publication Innovative Strategies in Technical and Vocational Education and Training for Accelerated Human Resource Development in South Asia
  1. Little is spent on technical and vocational education and training as a percentage of education ministry budgets or of total government spending: 2.6% of the Ministry of Education (MOE) budget in Bangladesh, 1.2% of the MOE budget and 0.2% of total government spending in Nepal, and 0.4% of total government spending in Sri Lanka.
    Source: ADB publication Innovative Strategies in Technical and Vocational Education and Training for Accelerated Human Resource Development in South Asia
  1. At present, the potential for e-learning in South Asia is limited by poor broadband access outside urban areas and by student deficiency in English.In 2012, only 5.0% of Bangladeshis had internet access, and this market is growing slowly. Nepal was marginally better off with 9.0% of the population enjoying access.
    Source: ADB publication Innovative Strategies in Higher Education for Accelerated Human Resource Development in South Asia
  1. Sri Lanka’s labor force is becoming increasingly better educated; the proportion of those with a lower secondary background has reached nearly 50%. Between 1998 and 2008, the share of total employed with primary education or less declined from 33% to 20%. Conversely, the share with lower secondary education rose from 39% to 48%.
    Source: ADB publication Innovative Strategies in Technical and Vocational Education and Training for Accelerated Human Resource Development in South Asia