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Girls, boys and youth in Bangladesh are able to use life skills to cope with everyday challenges.

According to One 2 Think, alongside literacy and numeracy skills, life skills/ 21st-century skills, which are universal and cross-cutting, should be taught separately and be given more importance starting from primary school because they enable boys, girls and adolescents to face everyday challenges, defend their rights, and adapt in a rapidly changing society. These competencies will also be crucial for their future professional life.

To date, there is no consensus on the definition of 21st-century skills. However, the term life skills is used in the context of developing countries. The list of life skills cannot be exhaustive, but based on the first definitions of the World Health Organization (1999), the World Education Forum (2000), and UNICEF (2012) we can identify three categories:

cognitive skills

personal skills

interpersonal & Communication Skills

  • critical thinking

  • independent thinking

  • decision-making

  • problem-solving

  • creative thinking etc.

  • self-confidence

  • self-awareness

  • empathy

  • emotional intelligence

  • coping with emotions etc.

  • conflict resolution

  • negotiation

  • collaboration

  • listening

  • verbal and non-verbal communication etc.


Children are often submissive and have to behave according to what they are told. This situation often hinders them from thinking autonomously and raising their voice. In Bangladesh, as a result of poverty, it is not rare to see children and youth being abused and forced into labor and marriage, without having a say. These issues are among the main reasons why they drop out of school.

According to UNICEF (2015), 30 million children and adolescents live in poverty in Bangladesh, approximately 12.6% (4.7 million) of them aged 5-14 are involved in child labor and 82% of the 1-14 experience violent discipline. The school dropout rate is the highest at grade 4, which matches with the age when girls start getting married; 9 years old. UNICEF also points out that the net attendance rate for girls and boys drops from 91% to 55% between primary and lower secondary education.

Nowadays, education systems are not necessarily adapted to constantly evolving social and economic needs. The Government of Bangladesh mentions life skills education in its curricula, but they are only taught practically within technical and vocational education and training (TVET).


In addition, parents are not always in the position of raising their children with an appropriate education. In Bangladesh, parents have sometimes not concluded primary education themselves resulting in not making sound decisions for their children, and thus, they need to be supported.

With the arrival of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, for example, intercultural skills, tolerance and peace education are fundamental in the country.

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