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Bangladesh: Women get a chance at life with Pathways to Promise

Bangladesh has a program, Pathways to Promise, that gives women working in garment factories the opportunity to leave their jobs and pursue higher education. In January 2016, 22 women walked away from their jobs at factories to participate in the Pathways to Promise program. That number now stands at more than 100, including more than 30 factory workers in addition to 70 other young women from ethnic minority groups and Afghan women from conflict zones.

Participating students spend 20 hours per week in the classroom, which is primarily focused on academic English language communication skills, critical thinking, leadership development and presentation skills. The core curriculum also includes mathematics and is supplemented by a robust extracurricular program of eight to 10 hours that includes activities ranging from community service and karate to IT and social enterprise.

Students receive up to two hours of personalized one-on-one academic mentoring each week and have access to the writing center and math and science center for additional expert academic support. A social mentoring pastoral care system is available for all Pathways students, and senior program participants take an active role in the mentoring and support of the less experienced Pathways students.

Bangladesh employs more than three million women in the garment manufacturing industry, many of whom have had only a few years of schooling.