09 February 2012, Dhaka. Addressing the issue of youth unemployment, urban poverty and maternal mortality remains challenges of the future.
Vowing to continue with the mission of fighting poverty, BRAC is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its inception through reflection from the past to harness the potential for the future. In a press conference at the Dhaka Reporters Unity Auditorium today, Executive Director Dr. Mahabub Hossain said that BRAC’s success has largely been possible because of its innovative approaches towards development and its relentless pursuit of scale. He highlighted on some of the biggest innovations of BRAC and their contribution towards the national development. He cited the example of BRAC’s contribution to reduce child mortality significantly in Bangladesh from Diarrhea by visiting every single household in Bangladesh and teaching mothers how to use a simple formula of preparing Oral Saline. He also highlighted achievements in education where almost 5 million disadvantaged children got a second chance and graduated from its non formal primary schools. Similarly, he cited the success of giving a Bangladesh bank sanctioned seasonal, reduced interest loan with technical assistance to tenant formers. So far, almost 250,000 farmers, out of which 60,000 are women, have gotten this benefit and almost 400 crores taka has been disbursed. “When we saw that almost 15% of the extreme poor could not even get microfinance, we introduced a grant based technical assistance programme for them in 2002. Research conducted to analyze the effectiveness of the model shows over 1.3 million lifted themselves out of extreme poverty receiving support from this program.
Addressing the question of future challenges, Dr. Hossain said, “Although we are making tremendous stride as a nation. But problems remain. Tackling the issue of maternal death, nutrition deficiency, urban poverty and a holistic solution for opportunities for younger generation will be some of our future challenges,” said Dr. Hossain.
Chief Financial Officer, S.N. Kairy focused on BRAC’s transparency of financial records. He explained the various financial checks and balances that are currently in place. “BRAC is the only organization in Bangladesh which has the independent ombudsman to address concerns and complaints.” said Kairy.
The Director of Communications, Asif Saleh announced a series of events surrounding the 40thAnniversary events targeted towards reflection and discussion of the learning from past 40 years. There is a special event on February 10th showcasing various achievements and announcing of a forward looking agenda. Representatives of all 12 countries and friends of BRAC from all over the world will be present.
It will be followed by special awards and BRAC day for its employees and a CD launch with top singers to raise awareness on the issues concerning adolescent girls on International Women’s Day. A special international conference is being planned in October focusing on the south-south collaboration, MDG goal 8. Also its research wing is publishing a book on BRAC’s learning over the last forty years for the development practioners.
Representatives from BRAC’s operation in Uganda and Afghanistan, where BRAC is the largest NGO, Barbara Mirembe and Ghulam Mehdi also attended the press conference respectively. “The ideology of Sir Fazle Hasan in engaging local staff in its international programmes is undoubtedly effective and should serve as an example to other multi-national NGO’s,” said Mirembe. Both the operations have over 95% staff hired locally from those countries.
Founded as a rehabilitation mission in 1972 by Sir Fazle Hasan Abed in the aftermath of the Bangladesh War of Liberation, today BRAC has turned into one of the largest development organizations of the world operating in 10 other countries in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean touching the lives of almost 138 million people worldwide.
01 February 2011, Dhaka. This month, Forbes profiled BRAC partner, VisionSpring, in an article titled, "New vision for non-profits." In it, VisionSpring Founder & CEO Jordan Kassalow discusses how the organization’s model has evolved and how he intends to make the organization increasingly self-sustaining. VisionSpring is a social enterprise dedicated to reducing poverty and generating opportunity in the developing world through the sale of affordable eyeglasses.
To become a self-sustaining organization that is independent of philanthropic dollars, VisionSpring partnered with BRAC in 2005 to begin scaling the sale of their eyeglasses through BRAC’s network of entrepreneurs in Bangladesh. In 2009, VisionSpring and BRAC signed a Memorandum of Understanding to formally launch the scaling throughout BRAC’s network of Shastha Shebikas, or Community Health Workers.
Helen Coster of Forbes writes, “Kassalow figured BRAC's 80,000-strong sales force could help him scale up faster while saving money on training and administrative costs.” Since the beginning of this partnership, BRAC’s entrepreneurs have sold nearly 100,000 eyeglasses and have reduced the cost of the program to VisionSpring.
While this partnership cannot make VisionSpring’s model entirely self-sustaining on its own, the BRAC entrepreneurs have dramatically propelled the VisionSpring mission: getting affordable eyeglasses to those who need them to live fulfilling, productive lives.
To learn more about BRAC’s partnership with VisionSpring, click here to read the full article.
1 February 2012, Dhaka. In Bangladesh, the development organization's Water, Sanitation and Hygiene program gives millions of the rural poor a fresh start with latrines at prices fair to buyers and sellers alike.
Rushada Shahad doesn’t run your typical home improvement showroom. You’ll find no stainless steel fixtures and chrome faucets in her backyard in the Bhaluka subdistrict of rural Bangladesh, where she runs a business selling latrine slabs and pillars. But what this enterprise and others like it lack in luxury, they make up for in impact, providing sanitation to tens of millions of Bangaldesh's rural poor.
BRAC, a global development organization based in Dhaka, Bangladesh, has announced it is financing the start-up of more businesses like Rushada's in a bid to reach households trapped in extreme poverty. With a new round of financial assistance from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the organization has begun rolling out the second phase of its WASH [Water, Sanitation and Hygiene] program. The first phase has already reached over 25 million people.
Rushada is a “sanitation entrepreneur” trained and financed by BRAC. Micro-franchised start-ups like hers are a “business in a box,” launched by individuals -- but with a business model, marketing support and interest-free loans provided by the organization.
“The WASH program of BRAC has provided 25.5 million people with sanitation, a remarkable increase,” says Babar Kabir, the director of the program. “We look forward to the second phase of the program, where we’ll direct our attention to the ultra-poor, or people living at the bottom 10 percent of the economic pyramid. We are working to eliminate open defecation in Bangladesh.”
BRAC, by most standards is the world's largest non-government organization, is currently scaling up market-based solutions such as these -- most of them developed in its home country of Bangladesh -- in 10 countries in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.
About 2.6 billion people around the world lack access to basic sanitation, according to the United Nations. Lack of toilets perpetuates a vicious cycle of poverty and malnutrition, with lack of access to clean water and sanitation killing an estimated 1.5 million children under the age of five each year and children missing 443 million total school days annually due to related illnesses.
Late last year, BRAC received a three-year grant of up to $17 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to expand its BRAC wash program in rural and semi-urban areas of Bangladesh.
30 January 2012, Dhaka. The results are in! There were a lot of great ideas and feedback from all of our supporters. Congratulations to the ten innovators who have made it to the next round:
You can still see descriptions of all the innovative projects on BRAC's Facebook page.
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Like many of BRAC’s programs, its community-based model for TB has garnered much praise: it’s been profiled in articles in the New York Times, documented in Harvard Business School case studies, received the Stop TB Partnership Kochon Prize, and hosted dozens of distinguished visitors. Some of its methods have brought them under fire, within conservative communities, with the public sector, and international donors—it was one of the first to treat patients with lay volunteers (called shasthya shebikas), all women, in the community. And while medications have always been provided for free by the government, BRAC requires patients to hand over a small deposit prior to beginning treatment that’s returned only when the patient completes the six months of treatment (this can be paid by the community or waived when necessary). Shasthya shebikas watch the patients take their medications every day (a strategy now called directly observed therapy, short-course or DOTS) at their homes, receiving a small payment upon treatment completion.When pressured to change its delivery strategy, BRAC has refused, with one argument amply supported by program data and rigorous research studies: this model works. With adherence as an Achilles’ heel for treating infectious and non-communicable disease alike, BRAC found a way to engage patients and motivate them to continue the full course of treatment, defended it, and then scaled up to one of the largest programs in the world. Now a critical member in a national partnership with the Government of Bangladesh, over 40 other non-governments organizations, BRAC treats close to 100,000 patients a year with a success rate of 92%, defying the assumed trade-off between quality and scale. These achievements reflect significant contributions from many, including technical expertise from the World Health Organization and the Japanese Anti-TB Association, and resource mobilization by the Country Coordinating Mechanism, and transcend national borders.Internationally, BRAC has begun to adapt the model to new contexts. BRAC Afghanistan has worked with the government to make community-based TB treatment options part of the standard package of health services offered nationally.
Since its first write-up in a scientific newsletter in 1991, BRAC has published several academic articles on its successes in tuberculosis. It has even written chapters on the program in Tuberculosis: an interdisciplinary perspective and more recently, in From One to Many, a collection of programmatic experiences in scale up edited by BRAC. Ian Smillie dedicates a chapter of his book on BRAC, Freedom from Want, to tuberculosis control. But a thorough, reflective documentation, one capturingthe broader elements of the history, collective insights, support systems, strategic thinking, and overall, the story of what had built the program, written by its veteran leaders and staff, was absent. Finally, in Making Tuberculosis History: Community-based Solutions for Millions, we have achieved just that. The book offers a complete account of the program: how it was conceived, piloted, refined, scaled, managed, and ultimately adapted for new contexts, including Bangladesh’s rapidly growing citiesand Afghanistan’s remote mountainous regions. Summarizing past successes and current dilemmas, the book’s ultimate aim is to advance efforts to eliminate poverty and disease globally. The public health challenges facing the world today demonstrate the critical need for large-scale thinking; lessons from BRAC’s TB program can inspire others to think creatively about health delivery and advancing towards health for all.
Making Tuberculosis History will be formally launched on October 27th at the 42nd Union World Conference on Lung Health. All conference participants are welcome to attend. BRAC plans to hold additional book launch activities in Dhaka, New York, Boston in the coming months. Those interested in purchasing the book can find information at the University Press Limited website.
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11 January 2012, Dhaka. at Channel i office, Dr. Mahbub Hossain, Executive Director- BRAC, Safiqul Islam, Director- Education Programme , Faridur Reza Sagar, Managing Director, Impress Telefilm Ltd and Channel-i have attended the press conference event of Deepshikha, a cultural competition programme by BRAC Primary and Pre-primary school students. On press conference officially BRAC and Channel i declared details about ‘Deepshikha’ and the reason behind starting the competition.
At the beginning of February 2011 the competition was started at root level and it continued . Finally 150 participated were selected from divisional level. Well known celebrity like Shubir Nandi, Ferdous Ara, Laila Hasan, Minu Haque, Shomorjit Roy Chowdhury, Konokchapa Chakma, Jhorna Sarkar and Rabi Sankar Moitri were in the judge panel. Quarter final and grand finale will be broadcasted in Channel i.
Besides regular classroom study BRAC school students are involved in extra-curricular activities like singing, dancing, acting, drawing and reciting. BRAC School teachers help them to learn these with fun. Deepshikha is an initiative by BRAC Education Programme to bring out their hidden talents.
11 January 2012, Dhaka. At the evening from 06.00pm to 09.00pm on January 07, 2012 the amazing and colorful function had get started through tuning the flute with drumbeats as keep hold the heritage of Bengal. Accordingly inaugural session of a few minutes went with different fine tuning activities of Art culture, specified by the starting song “Sob Cota Janala Khule Dao Na .....” and 10 candles lightening with recalling memory / reflections sharing from participants having past or present relation with the works of this section.
Former ED of BRAC and Adviser to the Caretaker Government Abdul Muyeed Chowdhury; Former Adviser to the Caretaker Government and ED of CAMPE Rasheda K. Chowdhury; ED of BRAC, Dr. Mahabub Hossain; Member of Planning Commission, Dr. Samsul Alam; Chairman – PSC, Ex Cabinet Secretary and former Advisor of this section Dr. Saadat Husain; Director, Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET) Dr. Nurul Islam; Bureau Chief – Associated Press (AP), Farid Hossain; CEO - Boishakhi TV, Manjurul Ahsan Bulbul; Professor SIT Vermont, USA, Jeff Unsicker; renowned folk singer Mr. Fakir Alamgir; Ex. ProVC BRAC University and Ex. member of BRAC Governing Body Dr. Salehuddin Ahmed; Pro VC – BRAC University Professor Md. Golam Samdani Fakir; Director of the Institute of Governance Studies, Barrister Monjur Hussain and many other renowned persons of society and senior most persons of BRAC line management were present in the function.
Director, Gender Justice & Diversity and Advocacy Sheepa Hafiza delivered her welcome speech mentioning Goal & Objectives of this section, achievements and future plan. In her speech, she commemorates and highly emphasized on the Advocacy program launching speeches by Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, Chair Person, BRAC on December 24, 2002. The function was conjugated with inauguration of Policy Advocacy Course facilitated jointly by – Advocacy for Social Change, BRAC; Institute of Governance Studies, BRAC University and School of International Training (SIT), Vermont USA for both of local and foreign candidates.
With well wish and congratulation from other participant’s of the function, ED of BRAC Dr. Mahabub Hossain said “Continuous research works to find out laps and gaps, necessity estimation are in need to ensure better performance by advocacy activities.”
Finally the occasion went to the more colorful cultural show performed by the performers of BRAC Adolescent Development Program (ADP), Mr. Fakir Alamgir and a local group of artists.
28 December 2011, Dhaka. On 26 December 2011 Primary Terminal Examination results came out. BRAC Primary School students have excelled in achieving a pass rate of 99.83%, with 70% of them receiving, A , A or A- grade. This is marginally higher compared to country's aggregate pass rate of 97.26%. However, BRAC students complete the 5 years primary cycle in 4 years while formal/mainstream primary schools in 5 years.
From BRAC Primary Schools 1,65,234 students attended the exam, 1,65,006 students passed the exam and 4,313 students got GPA-5. This year, a total of 23,16,521 students from all over the country from 87,832 schools registered for the exams, of whom 21,85,747 showed up in the exam halls.
We have special focus on Ethnic children and Children with special needs who can not fit themselves in mainstream primary schools. >From our schools 4,923 children with special needs appeared in the exam and 4,913 students passed the exam (99.80% pass rate). In BRAC Primary schools Children with Special Needs receive corrective surgeries along with devices like wheelchairs, hearing aids, glasses and ramps.
This year 6,488 BRAC Primary schools participated in Primary Terminal Examination, among them 546 BRAC Primary schools were especially for disadvantage background like ethnic minority group. This year 9,777 ethnic children appeared in the exam and 9,735 students passed the exam (99.57% pass rate). In BRAC schools ethnic children receive class lecture and course materials in their own languages up to grade two so that they can overcome language barriers and cultural gaps.
The examinations began on November 23 and ended on November 30. Students of class-V must qualify at the terminal exams to enrol in class-VI. Replacing the division system, this year's results were in grades in conformity with other public exams.
27 December 2011, Dhaka. BRAC Education Programme has been distributing a warm clothes worth around two crore taka. Warm clothes are distributed in 14 districts amongst 1,08,750 students of underprivileged backgrounds.
In the middle of this month multiple individuals in Bangladesh’s northern regions lost their lives due to lack of adequate warm clothing. The temperature recently significantly dropped, leaving many villagers unprepared for the elements, often leading to tragedy. BRAC Education Programme has taken prompt initiative to distribute warms clothes and it has projected cost 18,158,250 taka to give warmth in poorest and coldest areas. Distribution has been started on 17 December 2011 and it will be ended hopefully by first week of January 2012. It has been circulated with the support of local government officials.
The districts include Panchagor, Thakurgoan, Nilphamari, Kurigram, Lalmonirhat, Netrokona, Serpur, Jamalpur, Mymensing, Chuadanga, Meherpur,Sunamgonj, Moulovibazar and Hobigonj.
BRAC is also hosting a “warm clothes drive” in Dhaka, in which individuals can donate old/used clothes. The donation bin is located on the first floor of BRAC Centre, Dhaka, Bangladesh.