Dr Mushtaque Chowdhury, our vice chairperson and advisor to the chairperson and founder of BRAC, was honoured with the Medical Award of Excellence on 11 November. read more
From a bird’s-eye-view, if one were to look at the vast settlements where people from Rakhine state of Myanmar are currently residing, they would see many pink dots purposefully moving about. This rush of pink are BRAC’s women humanitarian workers delivering life-saving services, specifically to women and girls who make up more than half of the 589,000 people who have come to Bangladesh since 25 August. read more
Innovation and technology are seen as the solutions to the educational deprivation of millions of children in the developing world. How does the technology-based model of innovation relate to the real world of learners, teachers, schools, families and the communities that we live in? read more
Dr Chowdhury honoured for work in public health globally.
Dr Mushtaque Raza Chowdhury, Vice Chairperson of BRAC, was nominated by the American non-profit Ronald McDonald House Charities for its ‘Medical Award of Excellence 2017’ along with a grant of USD 100,000. The award was given in recognition of Dr Chowdhury’s outstanding contributions in the field of primary health care and community-based education across developing countries. The ceremony was held on 11th November, 2017, in Illinois, U.S.
Among his vast body of achievements, Dr Chowdury is known for leading BRAC’s Oral Therapy Extension Programme that successfully stemmed deaths from childhood diarrhea by training mothers on oral rehydration solution (ORS) preparation. In addition to his role at BRAC, Dr Chowdhury is also the Professor of Population and Family Health at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and has implemented projects in countries like Nepal, Pakistan, Thailand, China and Ethiopia.
Dr Chowdhury has worked as Senior Adviser and acting Managing Director for Health at the Rockefeller Foundation, where he played a critical role in setting up several institutions in the South-East and South Asia regions. These include the establishment of the Department of Public Health and Informatics at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University, forming the Mekong Basin Disease Surveillance (MBDS) network, and setting up of a center on non-state sector studies in Vietnam.
Past recipients of the Award included former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Health Minister of Rwanda Dr Agnes Binagwaho and Queen Noor of Jordan among others.
BRAC’s executive director, Dr Muhammad Musa said, “For education to be able to serve the future of our communities, we need to empower teachers, methodologies, practitioners and more importantly mindsets, in order to solve real problems with simple, frugal solutions, that include the under-privileged communities of the present world,” today on Saturday at the closing day of a 3-day international event on educational innovations organised at Savar, Dhaka.
Focusing on scaling up quality education, BRAC organised the programme titled ‘Frugal Innovation Forum 2017’ in 9-11 November 2017 at Savar CDM. The first day of the event was spent in the field, while discussions comprising 17 sessions were held in the next two days.
Primary and mass education minister, Advocate Mostafizur Rahman MP inaugurated the discussion sessions on Friday, which primarily focused on the potentials of different kinds of innovations to ensure quality education across the world. Educationists and innovators from Bangladesh, Australia, India, Nepal and South Africa presented 11 innovative models of quality education. Over 200 development activists, social entrepreneurs, educationists and researchers participated in discussions on the innovative approaches and projects adopted in the education systems of different countries around the world.
A special session on the education of refugee children titled ‘The displaced demographic: Classrooms for every child’ was held on the closing day. Abdul Moktader, Project Director, Save the Children Bangladesh; Jacqueline Strecker, Learn Lab Manager, UNHCR, and Mohammad Mohsin, ECD Specialist, UNICEF Bangladesh, were the speakers of the session.
Later on the closing day executive director of BRAC, Dr Muhammad Musa attended a session titled ‘Future of Education’. Dr James Tooley, professor of education policy at the University of Newcastle and Anir Chowdhury, policy adviser to the Access to Information (a2i) Programme at the Prime Minister’s Office, also spoke at this session.
Yesterday’s (10 November 2017) discussions focused on the changing trends in the education systems across the world. Dr Safiqul Islam, director of BRAC’s education programme, Ian Attfield, senior education adviser of DFID Education Policy Team, and Fathima Dada, global managing director of English and Schools, Pearson, were the speakers at this session titled ‘Shifting sands in global education across the world’.
Another important session from the second day called ‘Public private partnership in education - Lessons learnt from the region’ included Aashti Zaidi Hai, director of Global Schools Forum, Lee Crawfurd, head of research and evaluation of Ark Education Partnerships Group, Md Afzal Hossain Sarwar, policy specialist for educational innovation at Access to Information Programme at the Prime Minister’s Office, Bangladesh, and Shweta Anand Arora, director of The Education Alliance, as the speakers.
Asif Saleh, senior director for strategy, communications and empowerment of BRAC and BRAC International, gave the closing remarks of the event.
The BRAC Social Innovation Lab (SIL) has been organising Frugal Innovation Forum for the last four years (since 2013) with focus on pressing social issues. This year, the Bangla daily, Prothom Alo was the associate partner of the event while Global Schools Forum acted as the knowledge partner.
Dr. Mushtaque Chowdhury is the Vice Chairperson and advisor to the Chairperson and founder of BRAC. He is also a professor of Population and Family Health at the Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University, New York. During 2009-2012, he served as a senior advisor and acting Managing Director of the Rockefeller Foundation, based in Bangkok, Thailand. He also worked as a MacArthur/Bell Fellow at Harvard University.
Dr. Chowdhury is one of the founding members of the two civil society watchdogs on education and health called Bangladesh Education Watch and Bangladesh Health Watch respectively. He is on the board or committees for several organizations and initiatives, including the Advisory Board of the South Asia Centre at London School of Economics, Lead Group for Scaling Up Nutrition Movement at United Nations and is the current chair of the Asia-Pacific Action Alliance on Human Resources for Health (AAAH). He is also the President of the Dhaka University Statistics Department Alumni Association (DUSDAA). Dr. Chowdhury was a coordinator of the UN Millennium Task Force on Child Health and Maternal Health, set up by the former Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, along with Professor Allan Rosenfield, Dean of the Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University, New York.
AUD 81,000 worth of grant funding provided to top projects
35 Australia Awards South and West Asia alumni, representing seven countries, started pitching project ideas today in Dhaka as part of the Alumni Innovation Challenge, which was organised jointly by BRAC and Australia Awards.
The platform provides alumni participants with funding to implement development solutions in their native countries. Out of over 80 project submissions, 27 projects were awarded grants and mentorship support. The selected alumni participants hailed from countries like Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
The Alumni Innovation Challenge, inaugurated by Executive Director of BRAC Dr Muhammad Musa and Australian High Commissioner to Bangladesh (Her Excellency) Julia Niblett, let the grantees give their final pitch presentations to Heads of Mission from South Asia, officials from the Government of Bangladesh, international development agencies, fellow alumni, and other key stakeholders.
Praising the initiative, BRAC’s Executive Director Dr Muhammad Musa said, “BRAC and the Australian Government have a long standing commitment to achieving key development goals in Bangladesh. This platform provides a great opportunity for innovative individuals to network, collaborate and bring sustainable solutions to the existing challenges for their respective countries.”
Also present at the inauguration, Ms. Niblett said, “The Alumni Innovation Challenge will further enable us to respond to emerging global opportunities and challenges through innovation by drawing together some of our most inventive, creative Alumni across the region. It will also provide a unique opportunity for our Alumni to network and share experiences.”
The event will come to an end with an Innovation Tour, taking place on 2 November 2017, where participants will visit Australian Government-supported and Australian alumni-initiated development innovations within Bangladesh.
Muhammad Saeed, the programme manager for BRAC’s education programme in Pakistan, presented a case study of BRAC in Pakistan titled “Alternative and Non Formal Learning and Challenges of Basic education in Pakistan” at the IAARHIES 75th International Conference on Education and Management ICEM – 2017. The conference was held in Mövenpick Hotel Amsterdam City Centre, Amsterdam, Netherlands during the first week of October.
Pakistan has the second highest number of out-of-school children in the world at 24 million. Amongst them, 6.07 million children are out of school at the primary level. The formal education system does not have the capacity to provide access to all children, especially girls. BRAC in Pakistan is exploring alternate means of providing education to ensure all children can access education.
We have established a non-formal school system in Sindh Province which contributed 1.0 % enrollment rate by enrolling 51,000 students in 1,700 BRAC schools. 5,500 learners have been mainstreamed into formal middle schools after completion of their primary education from BRAC Schools.
Our plan is to enroll 1 million out of school children by establishing 33,000 schools. This will cover 16% of children out of school and contribute to achieve targets of the sustainable development goals and Vision 2025 of Pakistan.
The conference provided an interdisciplinary platform for academics, researchers, policy makers, activists, students and professionals from across the globe to promote a critical understanding of the innovative and organic approaches towards developing the education sector.
Dr. Nicolene Barkhuizen, a professor from the North-West University in South Africa, incorporated a study of the BRAC model in her research and announced that her team will visit Pakistan to study the model.
IAARHIES is an international non-profit forum and association of researchers in the field of Humanities, Information Technology, Engineering and Science.
"Healthy women, healthy city" - this is the slogan used to launch Dhaka's first modern, sanitary and safe toilets specifically targeting women. The official inauguration of the first toilet, located on the third floor of Noor Mansion in Gawsia Market, took place today afternoon, Thursday (19 October, 2017), with renowned actress and architect Aupee Karim cutting the ribbon. Dr. Foysol Chowdhury, Director of Innovation at BRAC, was present at the time along with the area's leading business owners.
Only women will be able to enjoy the facilities of these toilets. To ensure security, two women staff will be on standby from day till night. In addition to them, a cleaning worker will be available at all times. To maintain cleanliness and prevent waterlogging, only the best materials have been used for the toilet. With a funding of around BDT 500,000 from BRAC, a social enterprise called Bhumijo has implemented the pilot project. With cooperation from Dhaka City Corporation, the renovation of the market's toilet was carried out to achieve such a result.
Aupee Karim stated that, "being able to participate in such a unique initiative gives me great joy. I hope that those who are using and those who are maintaining this facility remain properly accountable."
"BRAC has been working on women's rights and safety from the very beginning. With support from the communities, we will be able to scale the solutions across the city," said Dr. Foysol Chowdhury.
The organisers have stated that 32 locations have been chosen to build similar facilities keeping various factors in mind. These locations include Gawsia, New Market, Farm Gate, Moghbazar, Malibagh, Mouchak, Uttara and Mirpur among others. The toilet and its facilities will be open for service from 10 am till 9 pm at night. Currently individuals will be charged a fee of BDT 10 for using the toilet.
Bhumijo's Co-Founder Farhana Rashid mentioned that a survey of 200 people was conducted between 2016 and 2017. The results revealed that 80 percent of the women did not drink water before leaving their homes out of fear from using public toilets.
Further research also revealed that Dhaka city will need three thousand more toilets by 2020.
BRAC in Afghanistan organised a research dissemination event at Kabul on 15 October 2017. The event revealed the finding of a study titled Nutrition Promotion and Collective Vegetable Gardening by Adolescent Girls: Feasibility Assessment from a Pilot in Afghanistan.
The event was inaugurated by Siddique Ali, the manager of the education programme for BRAC in Afghanistan. Ali introduced the audience to our activities in Afghanistan and encouraged them to participate in discussions to identify agricultural solutions to address malnutrition in Afghanistan.
40.9% of children under five in Afghanistan suffer from stunting according to the European Commission.
The study was conducted on the Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition in South Asia (LANSA) project where we trained 200 out-of-school girls from our adolescent reading centres on summer and winter home gardening cultivation techniques. We also provided information on the importance of nutrition and vegetable consumption to these girls.
Abdul Alim, the head of research in BRAC in Afghanistan, presented the methodology and study findings. The respective panel consisted of Haroon Rashid, the research director of Sayara; Nemaitullah Akbari, a freelance consultant and Roqiya Azimi, the executive manager from the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation & Livestock in Afghanistan (MAIL).
Project participants also joined in on the discussions. Khadija, an adolescent girl from Kabul, highlighted that the project trained them in agriculture and once they started getting the harvest, the community’s view towards girls’ working in the field changed in a positive manner.
MAIL officials commended us for our innovative project and suggested for future collaboration with the ministry in women empowerment and agriculture projects.
The research report will be published as a working paper from BRAC in Afghanistan.