Twinning a national literacy campaign to poverty relief, the Bangladesh Government has introduced a 'Food for Education' scheme which grants children wheat rations in return for attending class. In remote and poor districts, many families cannot afford to send their children to school because the youngsters must work to contribute to household expenses. As a result, illiteracy is in some areas as high as 69 per cent. But the innovative campaign was introduced to counter the problem and improve school attendance. Providing a child has an 85 per cent attendance record at school, 15 kilograms of wheat a month are granted to the family. Families with more than one child attending school receive 20 kg of wheat. 'According to our early assessment, the programme has been highly successful,' said Nuruddin Mahmud Kamal, the project co-ordinator. For the Bangladesh Government, and particularly Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia, literacy is a national priority. The aim is to double the nation's literacy rate to 62 per cent by the turn of the century. Under the umbrella of a US$320 million general education project funded by numerous international donors, 200 'satellite' schools have already opened in remote areas. 'Several thousand' more are due to open over the next three years. About 150,000 children from poor areas are now attending informal classes, while the recruitment of more female teachers has dramatically improved school attendance by girls. Enrolment was up last year to 90 per cent, compared to only 77 per cent in 1990 - and only 58 per cent in the 1970s. But Bangladesh still had a long way to go on the road to national literacy, Mr Kamal conceded. Almost 1.9 million of the country's 17.2 million children of primary school age are still not being educated. At the same time, 45 per cent of youngsters - or nearly seven million - drop out of primary school within five years. Among adults, the illiteracy rate is among the highest in the world at 64 per cent. For women, the rate is much higher.