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14 January 2015, Dhaka. BRAC’s Water, sanitation and Hygiene programme held a dissemination and impact sharing workshop  on 14 January 2015 at BRAC Centre to share its experience and future strategy with the stakeholders.

BRAC started its WASH programme in 2006 to tackle contamination issues. The significant achievement of reducing open defecation from 42% to 3%  (from 2003-2012) was the major finding of the research. The programme works through an intensive implementation strategy to reach rural population from all walks of life. Starting from individual household visits, cluster meetings, schools, mosque forums, formation of village WASH committees promoting rural sanitation centres and regular advocacy workshops are the key implementation strategies of the programme.

BRAC’s vice chairperson and interim executive director Dr Ahmed Mushtaque Raza Chowdhury chaired the workshop where director of BRAC’s WASH programme gave the keynote presentation on the future strategy for BRAC’s WASH programme. Ms Martine van Hoogstraten, deputy head of mission, head of economic affairs and development cooperation, Embassy of the kingdom of the Netherlands in Dhaka and additional secretary of ministry of LGRD ms Zuena Aziz were present as guests of honour.
 

7 January 2015, Sierra Leone.

Interventions include cash transfers, radios and safe spaces for girls; efforts will help recovery efforts by providing livelihood assistance for affected families and support for adolescent girls

BRAC, in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Welfare Gender and Children Affair (MSWGCA), has started distributing cash grants to young Ebola survivors with the aim of starting small livelihood activities, while also supporting adolescent girls in Ebola recovery efforts.

Distributed in the districts of Port Loko, Kambia, Moyamba and Pujehun, the cash grants have been given to orphans below the age of 22, sexually abused children, and families with children affected by Ebola. The grant amounts consist of two disbursements of 200,000 leones ($47) each, paid one month apart. BRAC is targeting 1,050 beneficiaries within the four districts, with 96 having receiving payments as of January 7. The initiative is funded by UNICEF Sierra Leone.

Meanwhile, BRAC is also working to close the gaps created by schools closures in the wake of the Ebola crisis. Its Empowerment and Livelihood of Adolescents (ELA) project is providing 840 radio sets (four for each of 210 communities), along with textbooks, exercise books, pens and pencils to boost the learning capacity of non-school goers. This promotes the Ministry of Education’s Emergency Radio Teaching programme which has immensely helped adolescents and children stay focused. The BRAC intervention targets 24 chiefdoms in Port Loko, Kambia, Moyamba, and Pujehun.

With schools and most recreational centres closed amidst the economic crisis, girls have been limited in movement and confined to their homes. This creates a stressful situation in families and communities while exposing adolescent girls to abuse, violence, and exploitation. BRAC has synced its Ebola-related activities to existing efforts to end child marriage and teenage pregnancy, as these issues are all closely related.

Funded by UNICEF, BRAC’s Empowerment and Livelihood for Adolescents (ELA) programme provides safe spaces for adolescent girls, life-skills and livelihood training, microloans and community mobilization for reduction of teenage pregnancy and child marriage. It is a part of a network of girls’ clubs in five African countries with 77,000 members as of November 2014.

The existing ELA clubs’ spaces have also been used as social centres for the communities, supporting mentors to provide sexual and reproductive health training for adolescent boys and girls in smaller groups of five. The mentors, well-trained on key Ebola messages, in turn conduct door-to-door Ebola sensitization meetings and soap distribution near the clubs. Educational materials are also offered, turning the clubs into community libraries.

Owing to the fear of Ebola survivors being stigmatized, staffs and mentors have been trained on how to counsel and give support, such as psychosocial and psychological training, to people affected by the disease, helping them integrate back in their communities after treatment.
 

26 December 2014, New York.

“From Aid to Enterprise,” a case study released by  BRAC on the 10th anniversary of the Indian Ocean tsunami, suggests a  path from grant-based aid to sustainable interventions and for-profit  enterprise.
 

Mangalika and her husband, K.G. Sirisena, recall the wall of water  that swept over their home in coastal Sri Lanka ten years ago. “Eight  feet of water came into the house,” she says. “The only things left were  the clothes we were wearing. We were lucky to escape with our lives.”

Dec. 26 marks the 10-year anniversary of the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami,  one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. An  estimated 230,000 people in 14 countries lost their lives in the  disaster and immediate aftermath.

To mark the anniversary and highlight the possibilities for renewal  in areas hit by wars, epidemics and natural disasters, BRAC, the  development organization based in Bangladesh, has released a case study  on its experience in Sri Lanka, “From Aid to Enterprise: BRAC’s Evolution from Relief to Sustainable Financial Services in Sri Lanka.”

Mangalika and her husband, featured in the report, were running a  home-based business servicing Singer-branded and other electronic  appliances, employing 12 part-time employees and making a profit of  roughly $750 a month. The tsunami laid waste to their business along  with countless others.

Mangalika with her family


Mangalika with her husband and three sons in front of the family's new repair center.                  

"Crises  of historic magnitude can lead to equally historic gains if women have  the tools they need to seize control of their lives and wellbeing." –  Susan Davis


Mangalika rebuilt her business with microfinance loans from BRAC,  using small loans to purchase spare parts such as motors, compressors  and fans and power. “We were determined to re-build what we had, no  matter what,” she says. “BRAC’s loans allowed us to do that.”

 

In “From Aid to Enterprise,” officials at BRAC discuss the challenges  of transitioning an initially grant-funded nonprofit development  organization into a sustainable microfinance institution, and in this  case a for-profit microfinance provider eventually sold to the private  sector in 2014.

“At BRAC, our objective is not to create a surplus for investors, or  to perpetually use donor funds,” says S.N. Kairy, group CFO of BRAC and  BRAC International. “It is to sustainably serve poor people. We prefer  to start with subsidy and donor funds, and then gradually move to  sustainability. That movement has to be driven by clients and their own  ability to borrow greater amounts in their own time.”


A path forward

“From Aid to Enterprise” suggests a path for other countries in a post-conflict or post-disaster stage.

January marks the five-year anniversary of the earthquake that  destroyed large parts of Haiti, for instance. BRAC entered Haiti shortly  after the earthquake and now runs a center that provides artificial  limbs and orthotic devices for those in need. Modeled on a similar BRAC  center in Bangladesh, the BRAC Limb and Brace Center in Haiti is on a  path toward full cost recovery.

The experience of BRAC in Sri Lanka also offers hope for recovery from the Ebola epidemic currently devastating parts of West Africa, according to Susan Davis, president and CEO of BRAC USA.

“Despite the situation we find ourselves in today with the rapidly  unfolding crisis in West Africa due to the spread of the Ebola virus,  it's worth looking at trends from recent decades to understand how  philanthropic capital can build models of sustainability,” Davis wrote in The Huffington Post recently.  “Crises of historic magnitude can lead to equally historic gains if  women have the tools they need to seize control of their lives and  wellbeing.”

BRAC operates microfinance, agriculture, girls’ empowerment and  education programs in Sierra Leone and Liberia, and is part of the Ebola  Survival Fund, a coalition of nongovernmental organizations determined  to crush Ebola.

“From Aid to Enterprise” documents the rare trajectory of BRAC’s  operations in Sri Lanka, evolving from philanthropically funded relief  operations to a commercial financial services company serving the poor.


Livelihoods lost and regained

More than 35,000 people lost their lives in Sri Lanka during the  Indian Ocean tsunami. More than 800,000 were displaced, and according to  official estimates, more than 150,000 people lost their livelihoods.  About 90% of those affected lost productive assets, including their  dwellings.

BRAC’s initial post-tsunami relief interventions in Sri Lanka were  geared towards recovery and rehabilitation efforts, including the  cleaning and disinfesting of contaminated water wells, constructing  latrines to prevent health hazards, and replacing lost and damaged  school materials. Beginning in 2006, as the need for immediate disaster  relief and rehabilitation efforts subsided, BRAC moved towards providing  micro-loans and facilitating economic development at the community  level.

BRAC took a phased approach to entering the sustainable microfinance  sector. Within a year of operations, it had reached more than 26,000  clients, making it a significant microfinance provider in Sri Lanka.  Starting in 2007, selected clients – mostly women heads of households,  widows, and those without other assistance – began receiving training on  poultry and livestock rearing, agriculture, and enterprise development.  Women were trained in basic business planning, assessing the market,  locating wholesale options, handling day-to-day bookkeeping, and  interacting with customers. A capacity development program also helped  strengthen other local organizations.


Regulatory hurdles for microfinance

A local microfinance expert quoted in “From Aid to Enterprise”  credited BRAC’s robust growth with “well established management  practices, systems, and a ready methodology largely replicated from  Bangladesh.”

By 2007, the company had evolved to a fully-fledged microfinance  operation, and a near replication of BRAC’s microcredit model in  Bangladesh BRAC scaled its operations to a portfolio of over USD 11.2  million, serving 74,000 borrowers at its peak in 2011.

After 2011, BRAC loan portfolio began to contract as a result of  capital constraints that resulting partly from Sri Lanka’s lack of  regulatory framework. There were ambiguities and restrictions on how  microfinance organizations could fund their operations. BRAC’s legal  structure effectively prohibited it from borrowing funds on a commercial  basis from international sources, and its ability to finance operations  through savings deposits was constrained by government directives,  resulting on a squeeze on access to capital.

In June 2013, BRAC partnered with Lanka Orix Leasing Group (LOLC), a  longstanding provider of leasing and insurance and other financial  products in Sri Lanka with its own existing microfinance practice (LOLC  Micro Investment Ltd), to acquire a majority stake in a regulated  financial services company, the for-profit Nanda Investment and Finance  PLC (NIFL). In 2014, in response to new changes to the Sir Lankan  central bank’s capitalization requirements, the board of BRAC  International sold its 59.33% stake in the jointly held company, BRAC  Lanka Finance PLC, to Commercial Leasing and Finance PLC, a subsidiary  of its partner, LOLC.

The sale was completed in September 2014, marking BRAC’s exit from  Sri Lanka and ending a successful transition from aid to enterprise.

“Sri Lanka is successful because we started with grant funding,” says  Kairy. “This is the best way to set up, as it allows you to really  reach the poor, and then allows a path for sustainability to emerge. If  there is no grant, then in effect, you are serving a higher income  portion of the population, perhaps the moderate poor. But to eventually  get to a place of sustainability while serving the poorest, an  organization needs some level of subsidy at the start.”

Download the full Sri Lanka case study, “From Aid to Enterprise,” here.

 

 PR-DLO-E

At BRAC’s Board Meeting on 3 December, Australia, BRAC and the UK reiterated their commitment to work on ending violence against women and girls in Bangladesh. This joint statement was released as part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence Campaign.

In issuing the statement, BRAC Chairperson Sir Fazle Abed said, “Empowering women and girls is the key to successful economic and social development. BRAC has always believed in collaborations- hence, once again, if we want to deliver real results, the government, private sector and civil societies need to work together to fight gender disparity. I am proud of the progress made in Bangladesh, but there is still work to be done.”

“Investing in girls and women has a transformative impact on growth and poverty reduction,” said Paul Whittingham, Deputy Country Representative for DFID Bangladesh. “That is why, as strategic partners, UK, BRAC and Australia support women and girls to live free from violence, and support their education, health and economic empowerment so they can achieve their full potential.”

“Our shared approach is to work with men and boys as well as women and girls to make sure that women are valued by society and from there to ensure their social and economic rights.” added Priya Powell, Counsellor (Development Cooperation) at the Australian High Commission.

With the support of Australia and the UK, BRAC’s advocacy and social and economic development programs empower women to be actively engaged in household decision making, reduce incidences of violence against women and build the confidence of students to protect and protest against sexual harassment.

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence Campaign started on 25th November 2014 and this year the theme is “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Gender-Based Violence". This theme is well aligned to the gender strategies of all three partners. As a part of this campaign, BRAC has organised discussion forums, rallies, poster displays and other awareness creation activities across Bangladesh. BRAC is also participating in events organised by the Government of Bangladesh and other organisations to mark this campaign.

Violence against women and girls affects a large majority of the female population, regardless of their socio-economic status. A national survey done by BBS  shows that about 87% of currently married women have experienced some type of violence in their lifetime; (65% have experienced physical violence, 80% have experienced psychological violence, more than one third have experienced sexual violence, in each case, perpetrated by their intimate partners or current husbands). About one third of women have paid dowry for the current marriage. Bangladesh has the highest rate (65% of child marriage) in South Asia. A very recent survey done by ActionAid reveals that 85% of urban women and girls face some form of sexual harassment the in public domain.

Strong legislation is in place but effective implementation remains a challenge. There are other challenges around provision of support services, capacity of law enforcement agencies and having access to justice. Australia, BRAC and the UK are focused on continuing their work together to address these issues through effective programs and also developing new programs that address emerging social problems related to gender based violence.

 

16 November 2014, Dhaka. On 6 November 2014, BRAC Uganda was recognised for its financial reporting system when it became the first runner up in the NGO category at the 2014 Financial Reporting (FiRe) Awards-Uganda, at the Kampala Serena Hotel.

BRAC Uganda has participated in the FiRe awards for the past three years, and has been recognised as the best NGO in both 2011 and 2012 and became the first runner-up in the same category in 2013.

This year, BRAC Uganda competed against 16 NGOs’ and 75 various sectors such as banking services, consumer and industrial products, education institutions, insurance services, the public sector and regulatory bodies and associations.

BRAC Uganda country representative Md Abul Kashem Mozumder, programme manager for microfinance Md Rafiqul Islam and country head of accounts Daniel Businge represented BRAC at the event and received the trophy and certificate.

 The guest of honour at the event was the Speaker of the Uganda Parliament Rebecca Kadaga, and she was accompanied by the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development Maria Kiwanuka.  The FiRe Awards was inaugurated in 2011 with the aim to promote a standard financial reporting system in compliance with the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB). The awards are organised by the Council of the Insititue of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda (ICPAU).
 



Despite Bangladesh has made significant progress in major human development indicators, including education, healthcare and child and maternal death, it has yet to go far to achieve a satisfactory result in reducing child marriage. Bangladesh has the highest child marriage rate in south Asia while fourth highest in the world. To end child marriage the government, civil society, media and social and political leadership must join hand and take up strong and well-coordinated effort.

Experts said these at the 'Bangladesh Girl Summit 2014' today (Monday October 27) held at the Osmani Memorial Auditorium in the capital. The summit was held with an aim to raise an effective movement for the empowerment and development of girl children through preventing child marriage. BRAC took the initiative for this summit for the first time with support from Ministry of Women and Children Affairs and the Department for International Development (DFID). The event was organised by the National Committee for Bangladesh Girl Summit 2014, a committee which was formed by 23 organisations including BRAC.

Meher Afroze Chumki MP, State Minister of the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, attended the event as the chief guest. Lynne Featherstone MP, UK minister for international development, and Tariq-ul-Islam, secretary, Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, were present as special guests. Sir Fazle Hassan Abed, KCMG Founder and Chairperson of BRAC, chaired the event.

The daylong event started with the theme song of the event performed by a group led by famous singer Kona. Later interactive, live sessions were held participated in by stakeholders who declared solidarity and pledge against child marriage. An innovative 'Youth Voice' session was also arranged to bring forth the voices of the youth. Sheepa Hafiza, Director, Gender, Justice & Diversity and Migration Programme, gave the welcome speech. Noted writer and Chairperson of Bangladesh Shishu Academy, Selina Hossain, and Campaign For Popular Education Chairperson Rasheda K Choudhury also attended the event.

State Minister Meher Afroze Chumki said, 'Seventy per cent of women who are victims of torture in Bangladesh are from an age range of 13-18 years. Child marriage seriously affects work skill, which eventually affects the overall human rights situation. It is the reason Bangladesh government has taken up ending child marriage as its number one challenge'.



Ms Lynne Featherstone praised Bangladesh for its commitment pronounced at the July Girl Summit in London to end child marriage. 'Every girl has a right to childhood, and to a life free from violence and poverty. We must all play our part to alter girls’ social expectations, see them as valuable members of society, sources for hope for the future, and investments worth making,' she said. 

Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, Chiarperson, BRAC said, 'The practice of child marriage has many deleterious effects on the societies where it occurs. Most obviously, it hurts the girl child herself by curtailing her opportunities for education and compromising her health and safety, thereby limiting her chances of achieving her full potential. There is also a profound impact on the next generation. South Asia is home to the highest number of malnourished children in the world. Girls who marry and bear children in their teens are unable to support the optimal growth and development of their offspring during pregnancy and the early years, resulting in significant numbers of low birth-weight babies and malnourished children'.
 
Bangladesh Girl Summit has been inspired by the UK Girls Summit held in London on July 22 this year and attended by the honourable Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, and other world leaders. The event is an outcome of a continued effort to bring together diverse groups and actors to build a collective commitment against child marriage, paving the way for initiatives that would bring an end to this vicious practice once and for all. 
 

24 October 2014, Dhaka. BRAC founder and Chairperson Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, KCMG  has been awarded the prestigious Spanish Order of Civil Merit on 23 October 2014 for his efforts in tackling poverty and empowering the poor. Sir Fazle received the award from his Excellency Luis Tejada Chacon, Ambassador to Spain, on behalf of His Majesty King Felipe VI and the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs at Hotel Lakeshore in Dhaka.

Known as the Orden del Mértito Civil in Spanish, this exalted medal of honour is granted to Spanish nationals or foreigners whose contribution to social development work has had extraordinary value. The announcement was made on October 12 2014, which is also Spain’s National Day.

Sir Fazle has received numerous other honorary degrees including Doctor of Humane Letters from Yale University (2007); Doctor of Laws from Columbia University (2008); Doctor of Letters from the University of Oxford; In 2009, he was appointed Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George (KCMG) by the British crown in recognition of his services to reducing poverty in Bangladesh and internationally.
 



14 October 2014, Dhaka. It is a stylized fact that with rapid rural to urban migration of the population in the process of economic development the farm size gradually expands that facilitates adoption of labor saving technologies and growth of agricultural productivity and marketed surplus for the growing urban population. The history of agricultural development demonstrates that almost all of the present day developed countries in North America and Europe followed that process. The Asian agricultural development experience, however, seems to be an exception of that stylized fact. In Japan, South Korea and Taiwan that already went through the process of economic transformation; the farm size has hardly increased despite removing restrictions on the ceiling of landownership that was imposed after the World War II. Indeed, with on-going economic progress the farm size tends to get smaller in most countries in South and Southeast Asia, with the exception of Thailand, Pakistan and Northwestern India.

Could an upward trend in real wages that will accompany rapid growth and structural reforms in developing/emerging Asia reverse the trend? Or is the Asian Agriculture going to be dominated by small and marginal farmers? Would it constrain the growth in agricultural investment, adoption of improved technologies, and agricultural productivity? What kind of public policy should be adopted to address the inherent constraints of small farms? The 2014 Conference of the Asian Society of Agricultural Economists will try to address the above issues. In quest to answer such burning questions, in the upcoming 8th International Conference of Asian Society of Agricultural Economists’, three pre-conference workshops/symposiums will be organized on 14th October and more than 150 research papers in the following sub-themes will be presented from 15th to 17th October:

Sub-theme I: Transformation of Agrarian Structure in Asia

Sub-theme II: Farm Size and Productivity Revisited

Sub-theme III: Institutional Innovations and Development of Markets for Agricultural Services

Sub-theme IV: Agricultural Value Chain: Linking Small Farmers to Markets

Section V: Migration, Gender and Farming Systems

Sub-theme VI: Rural Non-farm Economy: Multi-Occupation Strategy for Sustaining Livelihoods

Sub-theme VII: Lessons from Agricultural Policy Adopted by Japan and South Korea

Sub-theme VIII: Public Policy for Supporting Small Farms

Begum Matia Chowdhury, Honorable Agriculture Minister, People’s Republic of Bangladesh will be present as the Chief Guest of this international conference. President elect of ASAE and advisor to the Executive Director of BRAC, Dr. Mahabub Hossain will deliver his welcome speech. Presidential speech will be delivered by the Outgoing President of ASAE and the Philippine Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Dr. Arsenio BalisacanProfessor Dr. Joachim von Braun, Director of Center for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn will deliver the Keynote speech on “Small firms: large numbers, great diversity, big role”. It is expected that more than 250 representatives including policymakers, donor agencies, academicians, researchers and practitioners will participate in this conference.

Relevance of 8th ASAE International Conference for Bangladesh
Due to the structural change in economy, Bangladesh has recently experienced a decreasing contribution of agricultural sector to its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). From the perspective of economic transformation; urbanization, migration and rural/agricultural sector are closely interlinked with each other. A substantive portion of the rural population is migrating internationally or internally in search of better paying jobs and several other reasons. Despite massive increase in land price, diversity is observed in land ownership and share cropping system instead of land selling. The number of small, medium, marginal and landless farmers is increasing compared to the large ones leading to an increase in the numbers of farms and a decrease in sizes. In the 1970s, like all other Asian countries, it became evident in Bangladesh that small farms are more productive than the large ones. On the contrary, according to the notion of economies of scale, this phenomenon will not bring in any positive impact in our agriculture. Small and marginal farmers, failing to meet their basic necessities by means of agriculture, are forced to rely on non-agricultural activities. This gives rise to agricultural diversity and multi-occupation. With the introduction of sophisticated technology at the very grass-root level, activities like- irrigation, sowing, harvesting, threshing and processing are getting highly institutionalized. Increasing trend in population growth is causing a sharp decrease in cultivable land, inequality of land-ownership, misuse of natural resources; climatic change, environmental degradation etc. We need to utilize information and communication technology for knowledge dissemination regarding the use of sophisticated technology, provide agricultural credit facility, relax the terms of trade in favor of agriculture and invest in the infrastructural sector. With a vision to turn Bangladesh into a middle income country and to resolve the problems in the agricultural sector in the 21st millennium, we need to adopt an agriculture friendly public policy to increase production and to ensure food security. Under these circumstances, ASAE international conference is an epoch making initiative for Bangladesh.
 

24 September 2014.

Global anti-poverty leader pledges to invest at least $280 million to reach 2.7 million additional girls and train 75,000 teachers by 2019



BRAC, already a global leader in providing opportunity for the world’s poor, has boosted its commitment to girls’ education in low-income countries with a five-year pledge to reach 2.7 million additional girls through primary and pre-primary schools, teacher training, adolescent empowerment programmes, scholarships and other programmes.

These commitments make BRAC a leading partner in CHARGE, the Collaborative for Harnessing Ambition and Resources for Girls Education, a global collaborative of more than 30 partners working to advance the “second generation” of global girls’ education. The initiative was announced today by Hillary Rodham Clinton, former US secretary of state; Chelsea Clinton, Clinton Foundation vice-chair; and Julia Gillard, former prime minister of Australia, at the 10th Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York.

"We have always used an approach to development that puts power in the hands of the poor themselves, especially women and girls," says Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, the founder and chairperson of BRAC, who joined other leaders at Clinton Global Initiative today to launch the initiative. "Educated girls turn into empowered women, and as we have seen in my native Bangladesh and elsewhere, the empowerment of women leads to massive improvements in quality of life for everyone, especially the poor."

BRAC is already the world's largest private, secular education provider, with 1.3 million boys and girls now enrolled in 43,500 primary and pre-primary schools and 311,000 participants in its adolescent development programmes. Formerly Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee, BRAC is now active in a dozen countries, serving the poor through the empowerment of women and girls with tools such as microfinance, education, healthcare and a full-fledged university, BRAC University in Dhaka.

This commitment significantly expands BRAC's existing education programmes by reaching an additional 1.3 million girls directly in BRAC schools, roughly 636,000 additional girls through teacher training in government schools, and 714,000 more through various other programmes, including adolescent empowerment, gender harassment awareness, mentorship programmes, and scholarships.

BRAC estimates the investments needed to fulfill these commitments will be more than $280 million, over half of which has already been raised from partnerships with DFAT (Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade), UK Aid and The MasterCard Foundation.

Specifically, BRAC commits to the following areas:

1. Getting girls into school: Since its inception in 1985, more than 10 million students have graduated from BRAC's primary and pre-primary schools, which target children who would otherwise be left behind by formal education systems due to poverty, displacement or discrimination. BRAC recognises the unique role girls play in bringing health and prosperity to their communities, and the majority of its students are girls.

BRAC plans to expand its school programmes to offer education to about 1.3 million girls in marginalised communities across seven countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan Tanzania, Sierra Leone, South Sudan and Uganda.

BRAC recognises that entering primary school is not enough. It further commits to providing 11,500 scholarships in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Uganda to ensure that girls have the support they need to stay in school at least through secondary education.

2. Ensuring school safety: BRAC’s approach to schooling relies heavily on community support. In all areas – including Pakistan and Afghanistan, where going to school is often dangerous for girls – BRAC works closely with members of the wider community to emphasise the importance of girls’ education. BRAC deepens community support through various local bodies and mechanisms, including school management committees, parent-teacher associations, and gender awareness to ensure that BRAC schools remain safe spaces for learning. As part of this commitment, BRAC pledges to expand existing programmes in Bangladesh to improve school safety by raising awareness on gender harassment for 240,000 girls.

3. Improving quality of learning: BRAC recognises that enrolment numbers do not describe the true depth of the problem of quality in the world’s education systems. Schools in poor countries tend to favour rote memorisation over true learning, doing little to impart the life and work skills needed to prepare our youth for the 21st century knowledge society. Of around 650 million primary school age children in the world today, an estimated 250 million have not learned to read or count, regardless of whether they have gone to school. Children need classrooms, teachers, suitable technology, and an enabling environment that will encourage them to think for themselves. These elements will develop the problem-solving skills, critical thinking ability, and enterprising mindsets that are some of the greatest assets for navigating one’s way out of poverty.

BRAC seeks to improve the quality of education for girls in seven countries by training 75,000 teachers in child-centric education methods. These teachers, in addition to reaching girls in BRAC’s own pre-primary and primary schools, also includes government school teachers who will reach an additional 636,000 girls in state-run primary and secondary schools.

4. Helping transition to the world of work: BRAC recognises that the economic empowerment of women has led to enormous gains for poorer countries, and that preparing women for the workforce needs to begin at an early age. BRAC’s Empowerment and Livelihoods for Adolescents (ELA) programme aims to do this by providing adolescents girls with safe spaces, peer mentorship, life skills, health awareness (particularly reproductive health), vocational and leadership skills, and access to finance through microloans. ELA is the fastest growing programme in BRAC’s operations outside of Bangladesh, with more than 70,000 girls now participating in Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Sierra Leone and Liberia. They join more than 168,000 girls in similar clubs in Bangladesh, where a number of other trade-specific training programmes have also led to girls breaking the gender barrier in traditionally male-dominated fields like driving and motorcycle repair.

BRAC plans to deepen and expand its adolescent girls empowerment programmes in Bangladesh, Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Sierra Leone and Liberia, reaching about 400,000 additional girls with robust and relevant livelihood training to ensure sustainable economic independence.

5. Supporting developing country leaders in girls’ education: BRAC is committed to providing thought leadership, advocacy and advisory services to advance successful girls’ education approaches and models around the world. BRAC plans to invest $6 million in the Institute for Educational Development at BRAC University in Dhaka to become a global learning hub for innovation, research, training, advocacy and assessment on approaches to quality education in the developing world. It commits to training 52,000 mentors in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Tanzania and Sierra Leone to give them the leadership skills they need to support vulnerable girls in school, and to develop a local learning network in Uganda to share best practises in girls' education.

With a track record of implementation at scale with continuous impact evaluation, BRAC can serve as a source of evidence and learning to improve programme effectiveness. It therefore commits to developing programmes of technical assistance for other NGOs, development agencies, and governments. It will develop partnerships and a learning community for stronger global advocacy with the hope of furthering the movement for girls' education and empowerment across the world.


Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting 2014
 

13 August 2014, Dhaka. The research report titled ‘Road Safety in Bangladesh: Realities and Challenges’ was unveiled on 13th August 2014, the third death anniversary of the veteran journalist Mishuk Muneer and film-maker Tareque Masud. Power and Participation Research Center (PPRC) conducted the research funded by BRAC.  The launching event was jointly organised by PPRC and BRAC on Wednesday, at the capital’s Daily Star auditorium.

Executive Director of PPRC, Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman, gave the keynote presentation on the research findings. The research reveals important data and information, presenting a comprehensive scenario of the country's road safety reality. According to the analysis of the report, five districts – Dhaka, Chittagong, Comilla, Tangail and Sirajganj are most vulnerable to traffic accidents.

The report makes nine recommendations to reduce deaths and injuries by traffic accidents. Among the recommendations, the major ones are to enact the Road Transport and Traffic Act 2011 after comprehensive review of the draft; regular updating of accident-prone spots and taking an initiative to remove the problems immediately; improve road engineering; promote quality driving schools; undertake mass awareness-raising initiatives through involving the government agencies, civil society organisations and NGOs; and introduce a separate code in the national budget for road safety and involve donors to fund road safety projects.

Obaidul Quader, Minister of Communications, attended the event as a chief guest and Asif Saleh, Senior Director, BRAC, chaired the event. Among the attendees, Barrister Sarah Hossain, BRAC’s road safety programme director Ahmed Najmul Hossain, Ilias Kanchon from Nirapad Sharak Chai, editor of the Daily Star Mahfuz Anam were present.
 
Read the report online or download
Read the report presentation online or download