Bangladesh is a new state in an ancient land. It has been described by an American political scientist as "a country challenged by contradictions." On the face of it, the recent twists and turns of her history are often inconsistent. It is neither a distinct geographical entity, nor a well-defined historical unit. Nevertheless, it is the homeland of the ninth largest nation in the world whose groping for a political identity was protracted, intense and agonizing. The key to these apparent contradictions lies in her history. Thus, to understand Bangladesh's current situation, one must learn of its history.
In 1757, Bangladesh fell under the British rule as the East Indian Company, a mercantile company of England, took over the region of Bengal defeating the then ruler Nawab Siraj-ud Daulah through conspiracy. In the long run, the British rule in South Asia contributed to the transformation of the traditional society in various ways. The introduction of British law, modern bureaucracy, new modes of communication, the opening of the local market to international trade and, perhaps most importantly, the English language and a modern education system opened new horizons for development in various spheres of life. However, British rule over the South Asian region, including Bangladesh, lasted only till 1947 when India gained its independence.
Soon after, Pakistan separated from India because of religious differences. As Muslims predominantly populated Bangladesh, it only seemed fair for it join Pakistan as the state of East Pakistan. Nevertheless, the people of the Province of East Pakistan declared their independence as the nation of Bangladesh on March 26, 1971, after fighting a savage war against the central Pakistani government for basic rights like language and culture.
Events since the independence, there have been an endless struggle by the central government to preserve a unified balance of cultures and languages of the rural parts of the country. This struggle also hampered in the modernization of the unforgivable mixture, which makes the fabric of the country. Added to all this was the overwhelming growth of the population, which was expanding faster than any hope of economic progress.
Faced with overpowering odds, the government had very little help from education. Schools were abundant but fewer than half the children attended school and half of them would drop out after grade five. Only one in five students would make it to the secondary schools and a meager one in twenty-five to the university. Yet, there was a serious overproduction of graduates leading to serious problems of unemployment. This system not only failed to meet the evident needs of daily survival, it even worked against rural development and agricultural improvement. Education designed for a 'back to the countryside' had no chance of success, for that is what the young were struggling desperately to get away from through education.
Bangladesh is still faced with a similar problem. The illiteracy rate of the country is extremely high but those who do graduate from universities are nevertheless left unemployed or underemployed.