Bangladesh has achieved remarkable progress in increasing the primary school enrollment rates over the past decades. The country has reduced discrimination against girls in accessing primary education. However, evidences from a census conducted in eight upazillas of Sylhet division in 2012 revealed that 30% of the children aged 5-14 years in hard to reach haor areas were out-of-school. Proportion of out-of-school children was much higher in Sulla and Companyganj (about 36% in each) upazillas, predominantly haor areas, of Sunamganj and Sylhet districts respectively. This study investigated the social obstacles to non-enrollment and dropout in primary schools of these two upazillas. Data were collected through qualitative methods. In general, some common obstacles including children’s’ personal, family, socio-environmental and school governance factors were identified as major causes to prevent non-enrollment and dropouts. Personal factors included children’s lack of interest in study, their free will, difficulties in following lessons etc.; family factors included parents’ lack of interest in schooling of their children, lack of parental support, poverty, migration, opportunity costs of schooling, child labour, inability to bear educational expenses etc.; socio-environmental factors included distance from school, lack of roads and problems with transportation, insecurity of girls, influence of school leavers etc.; school governance factors included inadequate teachers, crowded classrooms, poor quality teaching, lack of school monitoring and supervision etc. Considering these factors a number of policy recommendations have been made for future decision-making to improve enrollment and attendance of
students in the hard to reach areas.