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 Balisacan. Professor 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
29 June 2014, Dhaka. BRAC signed an MoU with Mayalogy.com.bd, the first website dedicated to empowering women in the country. The project aims to create a virtual platform which will ensure access to information for women and girls to manage stress and crisis related to gender based violence and gender discrimination. Director of BRAC’s Gender Justice and Diversity programme, Sheepa hafiza and CEO of Mayalogy, Ivy Huq Russell signed the partnership agreement titled “BRAC-Mayalogy Partnership on Empowering Women and Girls in Bangladesh” at BRAC center today.
This joint collaborative project will exclusively focus on enhancing women’s access to information on sexual harassment, violence against women and girls, gender discrimination, and maternal, reproductive, adolescent health and sexual health rights in country. By leveraging the power of the web, this BRAC-Mayalogy partnership has the potential to reach over 35 million internet users in Bangladesh, of which an estimated 30% are women/girls. Upon signing the agreement, Sheepa Hafiza said, “this is a new beginning and we believe this platform will help women to connect and help each other.”
BRAC has been a pioneer in mobilising people since 1972. ‘Focusing on women’ is one of the priorities of BRAC; therefore, women empowerment is placed at the heart of development journey of the organisation. In line with its (BRAC’s) vision and mission and values, BRAC works for establishing a gender responsive working environment and promotes ‘zero tolerance’ against sexual harassment. Find more at gender.brac.net
Mayalogy has been working for two years with a mission to empower women through innovation and access to information. They promote quality content, engaging community and breaking digital divide. Since the beginning of its journey, Mayalogy has been providing useful and effective information to women and girls regarding pregnancy, maternal health and adolescent health. Find more about mayalogy at www.maya.com.bd/en
26 June 2014, Dhaka. BRAC held its Annual Report 2013 launching event on 26 June 2014. The event was held at BRAC centre in Mohakhali.
Highlighting BRAC’s achievements of 2013, BRAC’s vice chairperson and Interim ED, Dr Mushtaque R Chowdhury said, “BRAC acts as catalyst creating an ecosystem where poor can seize control of their lives.” Presenting last year’s achievements he mentioned, “more than 12,114 crore taka was disbursed to 42 lac borrowers, 91,300 ultra poor households were reached in 37 districts and 96,177 students passed the PSC exam with 99.99% pass rate”.
Advisor to BRAC’s Executive Director, Dr Mahabub Hossain in his speech thanked the media for providing consistent support to BRAC. He also stressed on the importance of accountability and transparency to the public and BRAC’s stakeholders, and took this opportunity to share BRAC’s 2013 activities through this annual report.
BRAC’s Senior Director of strategy, capacity and communication, Asif Saleh highlighted the importance of private sector involvement in development interventions. “BRAC social enterprises have been following a sustainable, socially responsible business model. We are open to share our experiences with the private sector so that they can consider shifting their approach from CSR (corporate social responsibility) to CSV (creating shared value),” said Mr Saleh while explaining the future strategic priorities of BRAC.
Representatives from Chevron, ACI Limited, Grey Advertising, Canadian High Commission, Kazi Shahed Foundation, AusAID, DFID, Renata Limited along with other guests, media and BRAC directors and senior management were present at the event.
29 June 2014, Dhaka. As the entire nation fall victim to the craze of FIFA world cup 2014, BRAC decided to harness the enthusiasm through an exhibition match between the nation’s top favourite teams-Brazil and Argentina. On Friday afternoon of 27 March, the all-girls football teams of BRAC’s adolescent development clubs put on the jersey of Brazil and Argentina, and the much anticipated finale was underway.
The match began at 3pm on the ground of Motijheel T&T school, packed with an enthusiastic crowd cheering for their favourite teams. Brazil’s skipper Shamoly Bosak put her team in the lead during first half. However, Irene Parvin soon put Argentina back on level terms. The first half of the match ended with a score of 1-1. In the second half, the winning goal was by Argentina’s Jannatul Ferdous, ending the match with a final score of 2-1.
The winning team was handed over a replica of the world cup trophy along with a cheque of BDT 60,000. BRAC’s senior director Asif Saleh, programme head Snigdha Ali, programme coordinator Monwer Hossain and senior programme manager Rashida Parveen from BRAC’s communications and education programme were present at the event. The match received a huge national media coverage both in print and electronic media.
Since 1993, BRAC has been working to help adolescent girls in the country so that they could anchor on a sound survival strategy by keeping themselves busy through physical, social and economic engagements. Of many of the components of the initiative, ‘sports for development’ is a major one. Today, there are around 8000 adolescent clubs in Bangladesh, dedicated to mobilise this effort.
11 June 2014, Dhaka. Speakers on consultation appealed to abolish Kafala and demanded as it is a global agenda on protection of migrant rights in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). National Alliance for Migrant’s Rights Bangladesh (NAMR,B) organised a national consultation today morning on “Kafala violating migrant’s rights: Can FIFA help to abolish?” in BRAC centre auditorium, Dhaka.
Speakers highlighted on Qatar’s promises to review its labour laws, especially the kafala or sponsorship system, which is found in GCC states.
Ms. Sheepa Hafiza, Director, Gender Justice & Diversity, and Migration Programme presented the key note paper and appealed to unite and raise the global voice to abolish the kafala system on Behalf of NAMR, B. She highlighted the exploitation that faced by the migrants in GCC due to Kafala system.
Ms Rina Roy, Director, Manuser Jonno Foundation, stated about the importance of nation-wide campaign on Kafala issue. She also added, we need to follow the good example from Nepal for doing effective advocacy on Kafala.
Mr Kazi Abul Kalam, Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment said, Bangladesh government is continuously working to protect the rights of migrants workers, the government is also engaged in Colombo process (an alliance of labour sending countries) and Abu Dhabi Dialogue on Kafala to work more effectively.
Mr. Md. Golam Mustafa Khan, Joint Secretary, BMET stated that they are receiving more than 150 cases on rights violation per day. He stated that most of them from GCC countries. He mentioned that government raised the issue in global forum.
Speakers at the consultation targeted to advocate for the protection of the migrants workers through FIFA. In the consultation discussants and participants recognised that Qatar FIFA World cup is an opportunity for Bangladeshi migrant workers. Qatar is the host for FIFA world cup 2022. Since Qatar has a plan to invest more than USD 220 billion in infrastructure development for hosting the world cup, it will be needing huge overseas employees. They also highlighted that Qatar became the second largest destination for Bangladeshi workers this year. So this is the right moment for Bangladesh to advocate for the migrant’s rights.
A cross section of people including government, academics, journalists, lawyers, rights and development activists as well as members of national and international organisations were present at the consultation.
05 June 2014, Dhaka. BRAC founder and Chairperson, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, has been awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by Princeton University on 3 June 2014. Princeton President Christopher L. Eisgruber awarded Sir Fazle in the historic Nassau Hall of the university. This honorary doctoral degree was conferred upon five people for their contributions to human rights, public life, business, the humanities, education and engineering. Former U.S. secretary of state, Madeleine K. Albright is amongst the other four recipients. About 10,000 students and guests attended the ceremony.
In its official citation, the university commended Sir Fazle’s commitment to poverty alleviation, calling BRAC, which he founded in 1972, “a profoundly effective and universally admired organisation committed to alleviating poverty for millions worldwide.” The citation from Princeton also said, “His organisational and leadership skills, combined with his ceaseless commitment to uplifting the less fortunate, have led to innovative and enduring programmes in economic development, education and healthcare. He has created a model of how to have a lasting impact on those in need.”
BRAC is a global leader in creating opportunities as a means to end poverty. With more than 100,000 employees, it is the world's largest non-governmental organisation, touching the lives of an estimated 135 million people in 12 countries using a wide array of antipoverty tools such as microfinance, education, healthcare, legal rights training and more.
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.
10 June 2014, Dhaka. Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF) observed its 15th anniversary with the slogan “15 years of success and fight to prevent acid violence” on 31 May 2014. ASF has been working in preventing and raising awareness on acid violence since 1999. The organisation stepped into 16 years of its founding in May this year. Acid violence has declined as a result of a collaborative effort, ASF believes, but the organisation strives to bring the rate of acid violence down to zero.
The programme started with a welcome note from Dr Iftekharuzzaman, Chairperson, Trustee Board, ASF. Selina Ahmed, Executive Director, ASF highlighted the achievement and obstacles that the organisation faced in 15 years of its journey.
The programme was held in the LGED auditorium of the capital. Present as chief guests were Dr Shamanto Lal Sen, Plastic Surgeon and a founding member of ASF; Advocate Salma Ali, Executive Director, Bangladesh National Women’s Lawyers Association; Selim Ahmed, Former Chairman of Unicef Staff Association; Abdul Quayum, Associate Editor, Prothom Alo; Mr. Asif Saleh, Senior Director, BRAC; Ferdousi Akter, representative of acid survivors, member, Board of Trustee, ASF.
ASF honoured a total of 29 organisations and individuals for their support and contribution over the years. Late Ivy Rahman, Dr Shamanto lal Sen, Abdul Quayum, Advocate Salma Ali and Asif Saleh were among the awardees.
Professor Momtaz Megum, Chairperson, Bangladesh National Women’s Association, accepted the award on behalf of Ivy Rahman. She expressed her gratitude and wished to continue working with ASF. Dr Shamanto Lal Sen in his speech, outlined the history of ASF and expressed his appreciation towards the acid survivors.
Advocate Salma Ali, in her speech said ASF can be considered an inspiration for acid survivor foundations around the world. She also stressed on the need for accountability from government in order to implement laws better.
Next to address was Asif Saleh, Senior Director, BRAC. He spoke of the resilience of acid survivors and how only in unity one can find the inspiration to work for change. He urged ASF to consider its future plans after it is done tackling acid violence.
The anniversary programme ended following cake cutting and cultural programme organised by survivors.
02 June 2014, Dhaka. BRAC founder and chairperson, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed has been awarded the Leo Tolstoy International Gold Medal by The Russian Children Foundation (RDF) on the occasion of International Children’s Day on 1 June 2014. He received the award at Moscow's historic Bolshoi Theatre after a Gala concert for orphaned, disabled and disadvantaged children, where he was present as the Guest of Honour. About 11,000 children from all around the country gathered in Moscow to participate in this event.
Sir Fazle Hasan Abed receiving the Leo Tolstoy International gold medal award from the The Russian Children's Foundation's leader and famous writer, Albert A. Likhanov
The award was given by the organisation’s leader and famous writer, Albert A. Likhanov. Every year, the Russian Children's Foundation awards this medal to an outstanding humanist who has made a significant contribution to the education and care of children. Previous awardees include Mother Teresa, Albert Sabin (inventor of the oral polio vaccine), and Swedish children's writer, Astrid Lindgren. Upon receiving the award, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed said, “I thank the Russian Children Foundation for the honour they have shown me and BRAC. BRAC has been focusing on empowering people, particularly vulnerable women and children, and creating opportunities through education for the last three decades. I have great appreciation towards the work of RDF by which they are protecting countless underprivileged children in Russia.”
The Russian Children’s Foundation, the country’s first public organisation for the protection of children was formed in September 1991. It currently has 74 regional offices actively working to provide social assistance to needy children in Russia in cooperation with public authorities, businesses and other community organisations.
BRAC, established in 1972, is a development organisation dedicated to alleviating poverty by empowering the poor, and helping to bring about positive changes in their lives by creating opportunities for them. So far its work has touched lives of an estimated 135 million people all over the world.