MCC Limited Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies
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Development of the National Adolescent Strategy (NAS) in Bangladesh

Over one fifth or 22% (over 32 million) of the total population of Bangladesh, a densely populated country in South Asia currently fall under the 10 to 19 years age group (UNICEF (2017), an age group defined as adolescence by WHO, (2014). Despite notable progress in poverty reduction and driving social changes (including achieving gender parity in educational enrolment, meeting many of the MDG targets particularly for health care), Bangladesh remains a country thriving to eliminate poverty. And one-third of these children continue to live below the international poverty line. Despite various efforts by the government about 22% of the children in Bangladesh remain illiterate, and only 10% have secondary education. Only 46% of boys and 53% of girls attend secondary school. Due to poverty and social structure a limited number of children complete secondary education; secondary education dropout rate is high for girls, many of who endure the burden of child marriage.  Due to various reasons children and adolescents often have limited opportunities to express themselves. Expression of independent opinions and participation in decision-making are often impeded due to traditional views about children and because parents control them to work or study hard.

Although there have been many progresses particularly in the policy formulation dimensions over the last couple of years in regard to children, this group of population still continue to be deprived of many of the basic rights including completing education, health and nutrition, protection, participation, recreation, sanitation, and hygiene. Violation of child rights is a common phenomenon in Bangladesh. An estimated 6.9 million children aged 5-14 years (12.9 per cent of the total labor force) are working and are exposed to hazardous and risky conditions, especially in metropolitan cities.  Young girls are in danger of abuse and exploitation. Inter- and intra-border trafficking of children and women constitutes a serious problem .


The main purpose of the task is to develop a comprehensive National Adolescence Strategy for Bangladesh. The strategy will need to articulate priorities and plans in context of “adolescent-sensitive responses for emergency situations, disability, ethnicity, gender, reproductive health, nutrition HIV/AIDS….enhancing tools for generating evidences so as to support the country progress achieving its international and national commitment in regard to the 7th Five Year Plan (2016-2020 & SDG (2105-2030) etc. 

Research questions:

The study will attempt to answer the following research questions. 

• What are the key challenges that the GoB face in developing a coordinated response to problems/ issues related with adolescents?

o Answers will be collected from each sector (data can be collected through literature review, which then can be validated and changed through KII with the government officials)

• How do the community leaders react to different issues/ challenges faced by the adolescents? What can be done to develop an effective partnership with them?

o Answers may vary based on sector; data can be collected through FGDs with the community leaders

• What do the adolescents think about their roles in decision-making? How can more avenues can be created from them?

o Data can be collected from FGDs with the adolescents

Sector Specific Research Questions

Health and Well-being

• How can we effectively engage the families and the communities in addressing the SRH issues? (Data can be collected from FGDs and KIIs)

• How can the health and well-being of the adolescents with disability, ethnic minority, domestic workers, factory workers, third gender, living in disaster-prone areas be ensured? (Data can be collected from FGDs (adolescents) and KIIs (Government officials)

Education and Learning

• What promotes positive future expectations? How education & learning can positive future expectations? (FGDs with Adolescents, Parents and Community Leaders)

• How can we develop the sense of purpose and inquisitiveness, creativity among adolescents through education and learning?

Transition to Work

• How can the education system help the adolescents in making a transition to work? 

• How can skill training opportunities be linked to formal education system?


• What measures could make adolescents to feel more secured?


• What types of skills will the adolescents require to participate in the decision-making process? How can different organizations support in developing these skill-sets?

Methodology for Field Data Collection and Analysis 

In order to answer the key research questions mentioned above, a mixed method approach consisting of both quantitative and qualitative methods & tools is proposed. Despite having a quantitative component, the study is mainly qualitative. This will involve key informant interviews (KII) and focus group discussions (FGD) with adolescents, parents/caregivers, community leaders, private sector employers, and government and non-government stakeholders, at national and sub-national level, and as agreed with UNICEF, the inclusion of an adolescent U-Report question set, to replace the proposed on-line survey. Every effort will be made to include an equal number of girls and boys, adult males and females, and to be inclusive, ensuring that the views of adolescents with disabilities, adolescents representing ethnic minorities, and where possible those with non-binary gender identity, are included. The sample area involves eight districts reflecting a range of urban/rural characteristics (Dhaka, Rangpur, Sylhet, Barisal, Chittagong, Khulna, Comilla, Cox’s Bazaar), and four upazilas in each district, 32 upazilas in total. The final data collection methodology, tools and protocols, will be delivered in Phase Two. 

Study Time

The Study will be conducted between March 2019 to December 2019

Study Team

The study will be carried out by a team of BIDS researchers – 

Dr. Nazneen Ahmed, Senior Research Fellow, BIDS

Dr. S M Zahedul Islam Chowdhury, Research Fellow, BIDS

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