There is a general consensus that school financing has to provide the necessary resources for the schools to function properly. There is a need therefore to understand what makes school finance work.. The purpose of this paper is to provide a narrative of the school finance system and how it works in primary and secondary education in Bangladesh. It is based on secondary as well as some primary data. Secondary data include academic literature; policy and evaluation documents; and reports and publications by government, UN agencies, NGOs, and donor and international/regional development agencies. Interviews of a limited numbers of stakeholders in the primary and secondary sub-sectors were conducted. The findings suggest that the primary and secondary school sub-systems have their own unique modalities of financing and therefore have their own opportunities and challenges. While the primary education system is highly centralized and government controlled, at the secondary level financing is influenced by the interplay between the state and community. There are serious deficiencies in respect of adequacy, access and efficiency at both levels. In addition to increased funding, a more decentralized and responsive system needs to be constructed through appropriate resourcing and capacity-building.