Bangladesh not only kept girls in school but improved their lives on multiple levels with a simple, low-cost stipend program. It offers valuable insights for school systems around the world struggling with the pandemic. In 1994, Bangladesh pioneered large-scale female-targeted conditional cash transfers, which was replicated in Pakistan and some sub-Saharan African countries, such as Rwanda and Ghana.
The program achieved success well beyond its aims through modest financial support for education.
The program introduced a uniform stipend and tuition subsidy program for each girl attending a secondary school in rural areas if certain conditions were met: attend 75% of school days; attain some level of measured academic proficiency (45% in class-level test scores); and remain unmarried until completion of secondary school.
The development benefits of the stipend program outweighed its cost by more than double.
Over the years, it contributed on multiple fronts to women's welfare.