Bangladesh has slipped two notches on the World Press Freedom Index 2024 published today by Reporters without Borders on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day. The country was ranked 165th among 180 nations, placing it only above Afghanistan among South Asian countries. The country's score dropped to 27.64 out of 100, a decrease from 35.31 last year, when it was ranked 163rd. In 2022, Bangladesh held the 162nd position with a score of 36.63, while in 2021, it was at 152nd place with a score of 50.29.

Nepal has now emerged as the leader in press freedom in South Asia, ranking 74th globally with a score of 60.52, followed by the Maldives at 106th with a score of 52.36. Bhutan, previously leading in the region, now stands in third place in the region with a score of 37.29 and a global ranking of 147th. Sri Lanka follows closely behind at fourth place with a score of 35.21 and a global rank of 150th.

Bangladesh's exports dipped in April, the first decline in four months, because of slowing shipments of garments and some other major products, dealing a blow to an economy looking to recover from the lingering crisis. The country shipped products worth $3.91 billion last month, down 0.99 percent from $3.95 billion a year ago, according to data released yesterday by the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB).

April's receipts were also the lowest in six months. However, shipments rose 3.93 percent year-on-year to $47.47 billion in July-April of the current financial year. The slowdown in exports, the biggest source of foreign currencies for Bangladesh, came at a time when the economy is desperately trying to make a turnaround from the dragging dollar crisis and the widening deficit in the financial account, a key component of the balance of payments, which show the country's transactions with the rest of the world.

Remittance inflow to Bangladesh rose 21.31 percent year-on-year to $2.04 billion in April thanks to Eid-ul-Fitr as the country's migrant workers typically send more money home ahead of the major religious festival for Muslims. Meanwhile, industry insiders said the remittance inflow increased because some banks started offering higher rates than the official rates in case of collecting remittance. April's receipts were also 2.31 percent higher than that of the previous month.

In March, $1.99 billion entered Bangladesh as remittance, central bank data showed. A senior official of Bangladesh Bank said the country's expatriates sent huge remittances in just two weeks ahead of Eid, which helped boost the remittance inflow last month. He also said the central bank's flexibility on banks in case of collecting remittance boosted the inflow. Banks can offer a maximum of Tk 114.5 per US dollar, including the Tk 2.5 government incentive, but some are offering up to Tk 120 per dollar, according to bankers.

Nine universities in Bangladesh have made it to the Times Higher Education 2024 Asia list. Times Higher Education, a renowned education magazine from the UK, shared a list of 739 universities across Asia for the year 2024 on its website on April 30. Including Bangladesh, the list includes universities from 31 different territories in Asia. Among them, India has 91 universities, China has 86, and Pakistan has 40 universities. Bangladeshi universities, including BUET and Jahangirnagar University, are ranked between 301-350.

Other top universities in Bangladesh include Bangladesh Agricultural University, North South University, BRAC University, University of Dhaka, University of Rajshahi, Khulna University, and Shahjalal University of Science and Technology. The top two spots on the list went to Chinese universities: Tsinghua University and Peking University. China also has 33 universities in the top 100. In India, the Indian Institute of Science is at the top, ranking 32nd in Asia. In Pakistan, Quaid-i-Azam University leads nationally and ranks 121st in Asia.

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