For the year 2000, adult illiteracy rates were estimated at 59.2% (males, 48.3%; females, 70.5%). The government, as a matter of policy, is attempting to broaden the educational base to eradicate mass illiteracy. Primary education, extending over five years, is free and compulsory, although rural girls are exempted from this law. Secondary education covers six grades, divided into three two-year cycles. Most educational institutions are supported by the government either fully or partially. The language of instruction is Bangla.
In the mid-1990s, the number of primary schools was estimated at 46,000 with 190,000 teachers and 12,000,000 students. At the secondary level, there were 131,000 teachers and 3,600,000 students. There are seven universities, 10 medical colleges, and 10 teacher-training colleges. Research institutions include the Bangla Academy (which sponsors translations of scientific and literary works into Bangla), the Asiatic Society, and the National Institute of Public Administration's Institute of Law and International Affairs. In the mid-1990s, there were 23,000 teachers and 434,000 students in all higher-level institutions.
As of 2000, an estimated 70% of primary-school-age children attended school, while only 18% of those eligible were enrolled in secondary school. In 1996, approximately 2.9% of the GDP was allocated to education.