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03 May 2011, Dhaka. Leaders and heads of different women’s rights organisations have called for proper allocation of funds for the implementation of the women’s policy in the upcoming fiscal budget. 

The leaders expressed their views in a public gathering organised by the Social Protection Committee at the Shahid Minar on Thursday. The event was chaired by the Ayesha Khanum, Chairperson, Bangladesh Women’s Association. She said, to establish a country, which is democratic, secular and free of discrimination, people from all walks of life need to take a strong stand for the National Women’s Policy 2011.

She also said, there is no mention of which clause of the Women’s Policy has hurt religious sentiments. Rather some fundamentalist organisations are creating anarchy and chaos by giving misleading explanations of religion. She asked the government to immediately implement the Women’s Policy and make a work plan for ensuring successful implementation of the policy. Former advisor to the caretaker government, Rasheda K Chowdhury said the Women’s Policy cannot be affected for one fundamentalist organisation. These organisations are misinterpreting the policy and are misleading society with wrong judgements. She also said, some irresponsible people are against this policy. No knowledgeable person can be against such development activity.

Noman Ahmed, Executive Director for IED stated that the forces defeated in the liberation war are the ones who are against this women’s policy.
Afroze Hoque Lina from Jatiya NariJyot said, the work of women is never highlighted in the national media. If the clashes are highlighted more between women’s organisations and other organisations against women’s rights, the chaos will only increase.

Among other speakers were Professor Dr A.A.M.S Arefin Siddique, Vice Chancellor, Dhaka University, Professor Momtaz Begum, Chairperson, Jatiya Mohila Shangsthya and Anna Minj, Director, Community Empowerment & Strengthening Local Institutions, BRAC and many others.

The event was moderated by Sheepa Hafiza, Director, Gender, Justice & Diversity & Advocacy, BRAC and Rekha Saha, Director, Steps Towards Development.
Apart from the aforementioned, a few thousand people from sixty seven development organisations were present in the event.
 

24 April 2011, Dhaka. BRAC Advocacy Unit organised a dialogue titled  ‘Allocation Mechanism of Budget in Relation to Ultra-Poverty’, jointly  with the Economics Study Center of Dhaka University Dhaka on 13 April  2011 with a view to generate a thorough understanding of the dynamics  and efficiency of the fiscal budget allocations on ultra-poverty issue.  It is an endeavour to include the youth in the policy making process.

The dialogue began with the students from the Economics Study Center presenting on the topic. The panel discussants shared their views on the issue. They emphasized on access to agricultural loan, land and employment to the ultra poor. They also stressed the need for increasing pro-poor economic growth ensuring human development of the ultra poor, strengthening the social safety net, enhancing participatory governance, and government and development organisations collaborating (PPP) in reducing ultra poverty.

The session provided the young university students with a platform to exchange ideas with prominent economists of the country to find more effective ways of tackling extreme poverty. Dr. Mahabub Hossain, Executive Director of BRAC; Dr. Binayak Sen, Research Director of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies; Dr. Sajjad Zahir, Executive Director of Economic Research Group (ERG); Mr. Mamun Rashid, Banker and Economic Analyst; and Dr. Rushad Faridi of Department of Economics, University of Dhaka were present in the Dialogue as Panel Discussants. Sheepa Hafiza, Director, Gender Justice & Diversity and Advocacy and Rabeya Yasmin, Associate Director, Challenging the Frontiers of Poverty Reduction: Targeting The Ultra Poor (CFPR-TUP), were also present from BRAC along with other staff.  .

21 April 2011, New York. BRAC was selected as a Devex Top 40 Development Innovator based on a poll of thousands of Devex members, who collectively comprise one of the largest networks of global aid and international development professionals.

Devex announced the Top 40 Development Innovators on April 18 on Facebook at www.facebook.com/devex. Many of the top 40 innovators also participated in a Q&A on innovation, designed to spur a broader dialogue in the development community (click here to see BRAC's Q&A page).

"Solving the big global challenges we face – from climate change to poverty – will require innovation,” Devex President Raj Kumar said. “We are proud to honor these 40 organizations that are leveraging innovative techniques and approaches to solve complex problems.”

“We are honored to be selected by the Devex community as a Top 40 Development Innovator, especially as the only South-based NGO to be chosen” said Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, Founder and Chairperson of BRAC. “BRAC strives towards continuous innovation in its holistic approach to addressing poverty. Our real success has been in adapting these creative solutions to differing contexts and being able scale up quickly to make significant impact. And we strive do this while keeping a focus on the lives of individuals and communities.”

At Devex Event, Washington, DC. From left: Susan Davis (President & CEO, BRAC USA), Raj Kumar (President, Devex), Mahabub Hossain (Executive Director, BRAC), Tania Zaman (Director, Chairperson's Office (Chief of Staff), BRAC)

The Devex Top 40 Development Innovators include four types of international development organizations: donor agencies & foundations, development consulting companies, implementing NGOs, and advocacy groups. The selection is based on a survey Devex emailed to more than 100,000 aid workers and international development professionals.

All honorees were recognized at a reception at the House of Sweden in Washington, DC on April 21st with Chris Thomas, Chief Strategist at Intel and Sonal Shah, White House Director of Social Innovation as featured speakers. BRAC Executive Director Dr. Mahabub Hossaid and BRAC USA President & CEO Susan Davis represented BRAC at the reception.
 

About BRAC
BRAC is a global development organization dedicated to alleviating poverty by empowering the poor to bring about change in their own lives. BRAC’s holistic approach aims to achieve large scale, positive changes through economic and social programs that enable women and men to realize their potential. BRAC was launched in Bangladesh in 1972 and today reaches more than 138 million people in Africa and Asia through its programs that address poverty by providing micro-loans, self-employment opportunities, health services, education and legal and human rights services. Learn more at www.bracusa.org.

About Devex
More than 500,000 aid workers and development professionals turn to Devex for international development business, careers, and news.

Our online platform – utilized by nearly every major development institution in the world – is helping to create efficiency through an open marketplace for projects, talent, and ideas. Our motto is “Do Good. Do It Well.” because we support the mission of global development professionals, corporations, NGOs, and donor agencies around the world. Join us at devex.com.
 

Media Contacts:

BRAC USA
Michelle Chaplin
1 212 808 5615
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Devex
Pauline Zalkin
1 202 709 6494 

Monday, 18 April 2011 18:00

Intern with BRAC USA!

Are you interested in international development? Do you want to learn from BRAC, one of the world's largest and most effective international development organizations?

BRAC USA is seeking motivated individuals to assist with a variety of projects and initiatives related to BRAC's programmatic areas including public education, program and strategic support services to BRAC programs in Africa and Asia, and grant administration and strategy.

Come learn about international development from one of the leaders in the field! This unpaid internship is an excellent opportunity for those interested in learning about fundraising, grant making and BRAC's scalable and sustainable approach to poverty alleviation.

Interns will possess excellent writing and editing skills, strong interest in international development, ability to work independently and quickly, strong research skills, experience with the nonprofit sector, and proficiency with Microsoft Office software. Preference will be given to candidates with advance degrees. BRAC USA is looking for a minimum commitment of 8 weeks between May and August 2011.

To apply, please submit a cover letter and resume to Sherie Gertler at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  with "Summer Internship 2011" in the subject line.

11 April 2011, London. BRAC has won Silver for the best rebrand of a not-for-profit organisation at the International Transform branding awards in London. BRAC, one of the world’s largest development organisations, is widely acclaimed as a pioneer in the alleviation of poverty and empowering the disadvantaged to realise their potential.

In recent years BRAC had undergone rapid expansion in Africa and Asia and its brand and identity had become diffused. BRAC worked closely with international brand consultancy, CDT to develop a new identity and positioning that would present a singular vision and unified message across its growing international footprint of over 10 countries with its outreach of over 130 million people across diverse countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Uganda.

At a ceremony in London, hosted by former New Labour director of communications and strategy at Number 10 Downing Street, Alastair Campbell, BRAC received the prestigious award for its global brand strategy work undertaken with international brand consultants, CDT.

The Transform Awards are the Europe’s only dedicated celebration of rebranding, repositioning and brand transformation. Judged by a panel of branding experts, communications practitioners and academics, the Awards celebrate creativity, innovation and effectiveness in brand transformation.

The Director of BRAC Communications, Asif Saleh said: "BRAC is excited to get recognised for our rebranding effort which was geared towards enhancing its value based existence.  Going forward we hope more and more people will associate BRAC with its core values of innovation, integrity, inclusion and effectiveness. Partnering with CDT in this effort has been fantastic."


07 April 2011, Dhaka. BRAC Advocacy Unit organised a two day long village fair titled ‘Manush Manusher Jonno’ with a aim to create awareness and engage the mass in realising the situation of the people who suffer from extreme poverty. The fair targeted the mass, government, other development organisations and the media to work for the betterment of the ultra poor. It took place on the 1st and 2nd of April at Beltia High School, Jamalpur. Honourable Minister, Mr. Rezaul Karim Hira MP, Ministry of Land inaugurated the fair.

The fair begin with a grand rally on March 31, 2011 lead by Md. Sirajuddin Ahmed, District Commissioner of Jamalpur. People from all walks of life participated in the colorful rally which is a step forward in reintegrating the ultra poor in the mainstream development process.

The fair had stalls from the members of our Ultra Poor programme in addition to stalls from members of other programmes. Members of BRAC Microfinance, Health, Education, CESLI(Community Empowerment & Strengthening Local Institutions) and HRLS(Human Rights and Legal Aid Services)  programmes, Advocacy Jogajog forum and Aarong had stalls in the fair. Popular theaters were staged on both days to address social issues and raising awareness on extreme poverty. The Honourable Minister visited the stalls and later visited the BRAC Area Office at Jamalpur and met BRAC staff. He expressed his appreciation for BRAC’s intervention in the lives of the poorest of poor.

The two day event came to an end with a discussion session and a prize giving ceremony. It attracted a huge turnout of people in the two days. People from all walks of life including distinguished civil society members attended the fair.

Beauty, a member of our ultra poor programme won the first prize for her stall and rice-cakes. She says, “I am delighted everyone liked my pithas (rice-cakes) and was sold out. I have made a profit out of it. The prize has given me confidence to move forward in my life”.
 

7th April 2011, Dhaka.  The BRAC University James P. Grant School of Public Health founded in 2004 with ICDDR,B support, inaugurated its Centre of Excellence for Universal Health Coverage in the Sasakawa Auditorium on the 7th of April, 2011. The Centre will encourage evidence informed policy action for universal health coverage and will focus on three core activities.

First is the generation of knowledge from research of health financing systems. Second is the creation of a competent workforce that can lead new types of health financing systems based on insurance and pre-payment. Third is knowledge translation from other countries so policy makers can make informed decisions.


Dr Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation, with Dr Abbas Bhuiya, Deputy Executive Director of ICDDR,B, and others in the Sasakawa Auditorium during the unveiling of a plaque commemorating the  inauguration of the Center of Excellence for Universal Health Coverage at the BRAC University James P. Grant School of Public Health
 

Dr Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation was present at the inauguration as Guest of Honour. She spoke about universal healthcare coverage and how the present financing system leads people to poverty. Dr. Tim Evans, Dean of James P. Grant School of Public Health expressed his enthusiasm in opening the new Centre. The Centre of Excellence is funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and is supported by ICDDR,B. The Centre of Excellence for Universal Health Coverage will eventually be housed on the main building of ICDDR,B Mohakhali campus.

Tuesday, 05 April 2011 18:00

BRAC Wins IFTDO Global Award 2011

06 April 2011, Dhaka. BRAC has been awarded The Winner Award and a Certification of Merit at the IFTDO (The International Federation of Training & Development Organizations) Global Award 2011.  ‘Medhabikash Uddyag’ of BRAC Education programme was awarded the winner award in the ‘Knowledge management category’ and ‘Active Citizen and Accountable Local Government (ACALG)’ component of BRAC Community Empowerment and Strengthening Local Institutions programme (CESLI) was awarded a certification of merit in the ‘People management category’. The awards will be presented on the 40th IFTDO World Conference to be held in Warsaw, Poland from 8th to 11th may, 2011. 

Our Medhabikash Uddyog (Promoting Talent) is a scholarship programme where we target bright students from disadvantaged backgrounds and offer them financial support to help pay for tuition fees to continue their education and also provide training on English language and computer skills to help them in pursuing higher education. Our Active Citizens and Accountable Local Government (ACALG) project is an initiative which aims to create an environment for more active civic engagement among rural and semi-urban poor citizens and to strengthen capacities of local government in order to be more accountable and provide effective governance. The project builds capacity and provides training to local government representatives and female leaders and facilitates a forum for regular interaction.

The International Federation of Training & Development Organizations (IFTDO) is a world-wide federation (UK based) formed in 1972 to develop and maintain a world-wide network committed to the development and transfer of knowledge, skills and technology to enhance personal growth, human performance, productivity and sustainable development. Each year, IFTDO gives out awards to projects that have created changes in the lives of people and made a real difference.
 

 

05 April 2011, Dhaka.  “What the textbooks cannot explain properly, the videos can. The videos matching with the textbook contents clarify questions that are raised while reading the books. Various scientific phenomenons are visually displayed and the animations make learning a lot easier for me and my classmates.”  These were the words of a young and confident Kothamoni, a seventh grade female student from Rashid Daohata High School, on the positive impact of the use of interactive videos for Computer-Aided Learning at her school.    

On April 3, 2011, BRAC launched two interactive educational CDs for General Science and General Math for high school education in Bangladesh. These were the very first CDs that have been launched under the Computer-Aided Learning (CAL) programme of BRAC.  Along with Kothamoni, the CAL programme is aimed at making learning interactive, fun and easy for students across Bangladesh. Funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the CAL programme is growing progressively in various districts and sub-districts across the nation.  

The Computer-Aided Learning Programme (CAL), one of BRAC’s post primary education initiatives, is an endeavor to make the textbook contents easier, interactive and stimulating.   BRAC had first introduced CAL in 2007. The Post Primary Basic and Continuing Education (PACE) unit of BRAC’s Education Programme (BEP) had started this programme using computer as a tool for teaching. In 2007-08 PACE piloted this programme in seven schools of Mirzapur, Tangail equipping these schools with computers and multimedia. Recently, the programme has been expanded to fifteen schools in five districts (Comilla, Gazipur, Bogra, Hobiganj and Gopalganj).   

The main objective of CAL is to move away from the teacher-centered classroom environment to a more interactive and engaging one. It also ensures conceptual clarity and better application of learning materials and aims to increase the teachers’ understanding of the lessons. CAL is an attempt to create self learning provision for both teachers and students and to familiarise the rural students and teachers with the modern computer technology. CAL provides multimedia classroom with power backup and offers training to the teachers and students on usage of Information and Communications Technology (ICT). It provides e-content that can be used in the classrooms, and also the e-content at BRAC initiated community libraries (Gonokendro).        

Speakers at the event commented that CAL would help our education system get rid of the memorisation culture, which is in direct conflict with creative learning.  They also remarked that by making science and technology easier to grasp through its easy and interactive teaching techniques, CAL will help Bangladesh meet the challenges of the 21st century better. It is also expected to reduce the school dropout rate, given that it will attract students to the easy and enjoyable form of learning. 

The CDs were launched at the end of the event by Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, the Founder and Chairperson of BRAC. Sir Abed said that the launching of the first interactive, educational CDs was a long-awaited venture and it is going to be a key element in Bangladesh’s education system. However, he said that it is an initial step; the ultimate goal would be to convert the entire curriculum of Bangladesh to CDs and websites that can be accessed by teachers and students all over the country at their convenience. Only then, Sir Abed said, can the country reach its goal of becoming a digital Bangladesh. Finally, Sir Abed added that BRAC is helping the government to achieve the desired goals of education in Bangladesh; it is not working as a counterpart. The Executive Director of BRAC, Dr. Mahabub Hossain, added that BRAC would hold no proprietary rights of the CDs launched so that more and more copies of the CDs can be made and spread nationwide.

The Mathematics CD launched contains 31 lessons on 22 math concepts of the national textbooks of grades VI to X, while the Science CD contained all lessons of the national textbook of grade VI. Another interactive CD for high school English under the CAL programme will be launched very soon. These CDs will be available at all Aarong outlets, BRAC Education area level offices, and BRAC Training & Resource Centres.
                                               
           
 

OXFORD, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - March 30, 2011) -

BRAC and The MasterCard Foundation today announced the expansion of a $45 million partnership to scale BRAC's innovative microfinance multiplied model in Uganda. The announcement, which was made at the opening plenary of the 2011 Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship, will enable BRAC to expand its network to 129 branches, benefiting more than four million Ugandans.

"The MasterCard Foundation aims to scale innovative microfinance programs in Africa to improve the lives of people living in poverty," said Reeta Roy, President and CEO of The MasterCard Foundation. "BRAC's holistic approach integrates microfinance and livelihood services to help women to become productive economically and build assets to benefit their families."

Today's announcement builds on an existing partnership with The MasterCard Foundation in Uganda, where BRAC's approach, which it calls "microfinance multiplied," increases the ability of poor clients to productively use microloans to augment their incomes and build their assets, as well as stimulate economic and social development within their communities.

"Through this expanded partnership with The MasterCard Foundation, BRAC will be able to deepen the outreach of our current microfinance and livelihoods program in Uganda and expand our network to 129 branches," said Fazle Hasan Abed, BRAC's Founder & Chairperson. "We will also be undertaking a series of long-term studies to assess impact of integrated approach to services on lives of clients, their families and their communities."

Uganda is a country of 30 million people. More than 60 percent of the population does not have access to financial services. The BRAC program will provide economically active women with loans, training and technical support to enable them to improve their livelihoods, particularly those in the agricultural poultry and livestock sectors. Additionally, the program will expand vocational and life-skills education for adolescent girls.

"The theme of the 2011 Skoll World Forum is Large Scale Change—ecosystems, networks and collaborative action," said Sally Osberg, President and CEO, Skoll Foundation. "This announcement by BRAC and The MasterCard Foundation is a great example of collaborative action, innovation, and entrepreneurship helping solve the world's most pressing problems."

About the Partnership

In October 2008, The MasterCard Foundation committed $19.6 million to enable BRAC to expand its microfinance multiplied program in Uganda, to open 51 branches and serve two million people. Among the objectives, was a strategic focus to help BRAC document the long-term impact of this multiplier approach in Africa.

Building on a shared commitment to learning and strengthening the field of microfinance, the partnership is also enabling BRAC to expand the capacity of its Uganda research and evaluation unit to undertake longitudinal studies investigating the effectiveness of BRAC's integrated microfinance and livelihoods model. This data set will allow BRAC to conduct sub-sector analyses on various aspects of its program. BRAC is also piloting a Poverty Score-card which tracks ten key poverty-related indicators among its clients and uses the cumulative scores to track long-term progress. The scorecard is embedded within the Management Information System and will capture data each time a member takes a loan over the next few years. 

BRAC chose Uganda because of the opportunity to make an impact in a post-conflict country with high poverty rates and where 72 percent of the population has no access to formal financial services. Although Uganda has a competitive microfinance market, most microfinance providers are concentrated in urban areas. Seventy percent of employment in Uganda is based on agriculture. Most of the rural poor are small scale farmers and lack access to finance, agricultural inputs and markets. Uganda is also a young country where 78 percent of the population is under the age of 30. As such, there is an urgency to equip young people with skills to enter the workforce.

To date the program has demonstrated outstanding success, providing microfinance loans to approximately 110,000 borrowers, training and access to high quality agricultural inputs to 50,000 farmers, productivity enhancing services to 124,000 poultry & livestock rearers, and access to basic health services to more than 1.5 million people. BRAC is also empowering 32,000 adolescent girls and young people from poor and marginal households, providing them education, training and access to financial services.

Today's announcement of an additional $25 million will enable BRAC to build on this success by deepening the outreach of the current microfinance and livelihoods program and expand it by opening 40 new branches; improving skills and livelihoods options of young people across all program areas, including the expansion of the adolescent girls program; continuing to document and disseminate results on long-term program impact and implementing a sustainability plan that phases out Foundation funding in five years.

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