BRACATHON, the marathon coding competition for social good returns for the second year under the slogan 'Code for Bangladesh'. Registrations have opened on 8 January 2017 and will continue until 2 February. The 36-hour long hackathon will take place from 17-18 February at BRAC University.
The competition will provide funding up to USD 5,000 along with 6-month long implementation and development support for the winners. Interested participants can register by visiting the BRACATHON website.
BRACATHON - BRAC's first ever hackathon is a platform for coders to code for social good. BRAC under its initiative to promote technology that contributes to social innovation, created the platform in 2015. Participants will compete to provide useful mobile applications to solve a particular problem. Winners will be decided based on impact, innovation, functionality and quality of the proposal. This year James P Grant School of Public Health, Plan international, biTS, bracnet and bdnews24 have joined as partners to take the competition to the next mile.
View more details here: http://bracathon.brac.net/
Liberia’s education system is in crisis.
Our communities are still suffering from the effects of the long civil war and the devastating Ebola outbreak. Less than 60% of school-aged children in Liberia are in school, placing Liberia in the lowest percentile of net enrollment rates in the world. Those who do attend school may not fare much better: among adult women who reached fifth grade in Liberia, less than 20% can read a single sentence. Teachers, particularly those in remote areas where there are no banks, sometimes don’t receive their salaries on time and therefore often don’t show up. And it is our children, the future of our nation, who are suffering most.
To not act now would be to fail yet another generation of Liberia’s children.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf knows that fixing the education system is a top priority for our country. So, when she appointed me as education minister at the start of 2015, she challenged me to be bold. She asked me to look for innovative education policy options that have the potential to strengthen the public education system in an enduring and sustainable manner. This government is not here to deliver empty promises: our duty is to ensure every child receives a quality education, an education that gives them real chances and choices in life.
My country defeated Ebola with strong political leadership, community engagement, proven good practice and a surge in support from our international partners. To tackle the education crisis, I knew I had to similarly bring together these ingredients, Liberia’s unique assets, in a progressive coalition to improve our schools.
Any bold policy reform will always be controversial and will attract scrutiny. This was no exception. 12 months ago, I announced Partnership Schools for Liberia and it quickly became a media sensation, with a flurry of coverage in the Liberian and global media. Unfortunately, at the time, and until now, the facts have rarely been reported correctly and ideology has driven the debate.
But with hundreds of thousands of Liberian children enrolled in failing government schools, denied the quality education they deserve, now is not the time to be ideological. Now is the time to be bold, to pilot and experiment and, of course, to rigorously evaluate those pilots before scaling.
The 94-pilot school remain public schools, regulated and quality assured by the government. PSL teachers are civil servants on government payroll, and have every right to be members of teacher associations—Liberian teacher unions. The school buildings remain the property of the government of Liberia. PSL is not privatizing Liberia’s primary schools.
Eight Liberian and international school operators were carefully selected to manage the pilot schools through a ministry-led open and competitive bidding process. Between them they bring education experience from Liberia, West Africa, the wider African region and beyond. These include organizations like BRAC, with vast experience running schools and education programs in Africa and South Asia; Bridge International Academies, which operates more than 400 schools in Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria and India; and Rising Academies, which runs eight schools in neighboring Sierra Leone.
These are organizations that see great value collaborating with the government to deliver better educational outcomes for our children. Any decision to scale or terminate individual PSL operators will be made by the ministry team, based on independent evidence and community feedback. Most importantly, no single organization is or will be getting monopoly rights over Liberia’s primary schools.
The Ministry of Education has exactly the same financial obligation to the 94 pilot schools as any other public school—around $50 per child per year. PSL operators receive an additional philanthropically-funded subsidy of $50 per child, which enables them to build up the teams, curricula, data systems, among other things they need to run excellent schools.
Ultimately, we expect all operators to run their schools at the government price point, but we know that takes time. We are fortunate to have a group of philanthropic partners who are willing to take on this financial risk in support of the government. At my request, PSL is being rigorously evaluated by a world class research team to provide an independent measure of the effectiveness, equity and sustainability of PSL. The research team works hand-in-hand with the Ministry of Education so we get the data we need to make sensible policy decisions about the future of PSL.
The evaluation is analyzing the impact of PSL across several dimensions, including enrolment, attendance, learning outcomes, equity and parent perception and community engagement. It is a randomized control trial, which will help ensure that differences between PSL and non-PSL schools reflect the true impact of the program rather than any pre-existing differences between the schools. I have been clear from the start that any significant scale up of PSL will be dependent on the results of this evaluation.
This is just one component of Liberia’s progressive education reform platform PSL is an important but by no means the only priority for the Ministry of Education. There is no magic bullet to fix education in Liberia or anywhere, and PSL is just one of a range of reforms we are undertaking to improve our education system. These include plans to reach out-of-school children; the deepening and strengthening of school accountability mechanisms; and an aggressive payroll cleansing program which has already achieved $1.7 million annual savings, no token amount given that my total basic education budget is just $41 million per year.
Within PSL, my task as the education minister is to make sure that the school operators are provided with the conditions they need to deliver, while holding them accountable for their performance. They are required to report regularly on pre-agreed metrics, and their schools are inspected by my team for aspects including child-safe-guarding and quality of teaching and learning.
The public side of a public-private partnership is just as important as the private side. My team is building up the capacity we need to truly be the duty bearer for education: with responsibility for all decisions to commission, scale and indeed terminate operator contracts.
Signs so far are promising. Almost 28,000 children are enrolled in PSL schools, taught by re-invigorated and re-trained government teachers, supported by energized parents and resilient communities. They have the full backing of the Ministry of Education and I am proud of what has been achieved so far.
But these are early days for PSL. While I believe it holds great potential, my team and I are clear that the program will not be scaled significantly until the data shows it works and we have the capacity within government to manage it effectively.
Please challenge and scrutinize the program. We welcome that. But don’t judge PSL on ideological grounds. Judge us on the data—data on whether PSL schools deliver better learning outcomes for children.
The future of hundreds of thousands of Liberian children, their communities and our nation is at stake. We must not fail them.
NGO Advisor announced its new list of best NGOs in the world for 2017, and BRAC retained the top spot.
BRAC was ranked the number one NGO in the world for the second consecutive year today by the Geneva-based NGO Advisor, an independent media organisation committed to highlighting innovation, impact and governance in the nonprofit sector. BRAC retained the top spot as part of the 2017 Top 500 NGOs World rankings.
“It is an honour to see that BRAC has retained the number one position once again,” said Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, BRAC’s founder and chairperson. “Every day, more than 100,000 of our staff across the world continue to empower people living in poverty. We are committed, now more than ever, to keep looking for answers to poverty and deprivation – to find out what works and apply the lessons.”
Each year, NGO Advisor researches, evaluates and ranks NGOs from around the world, highlighting the best in their annual Top 500 NGOs World list. NGO Advisor announced the new rankings on its website Monday, January 9. This is the third best-in-class ranking for BRAC in four years.
“Again in 2017, BRAC is the leading organisation in the Top 500 NGOs World rankings, meaning number one in terms of innovation, impact and governance. The agile giant keeps challenging itself to serve more and more communities around the world,” said NGO Advisor Editor-in-Chief Jean-Christophe Nothias in a statement.
In an exclusive interview, Sir Fazle says, “The idea behind BRAC is to change systems of inequity.”
Of more than 500 organisations worldwide, NGO Advisor placed BRAC first in its international category, based on its impact, innovation and sustainability. BRAC was praised for its holistic approach to fighting poverty, treating it as a system of interrelated barriers that must be addressed concurrently. The ranking also highlighted the organisation’s systems-based structure, ensuring sustainability through a variety of revenue streams.
“Pragmatic, adaptive, BRAC can now play any game, whether using for-profit or nonprofit approaches, to face and challenge systems of inequity,” said NGO Advisor in its review of BRAC. “BRAC ticks every box this year, with extra scoring for the clarity of its five-year strategic vision and its willingness to expand its international outreach…Today, BRAC is more than a reference; it is leading the nonprofit world toward its next degree of efficiency and leverage.”
BRAC was founded in Bangladesh in 1972, and today is a global leader in developing cost-effective, evidence-based poverty innovations in extremely poor, conflict-prone and post-disaster settings. These include programs in education, healthcare, microfinance, girls’ empowerment, agriculture, human and legal rights, socially-responsible businesses, a bank, a university, and the world’s largest mobile money platform. In 2016, BRAC employed more than 100,000 people in 11 countries, with a total global expenditure of about $900 million.
BRAC is also unique among the world’s major nonprofits in that its overall budget is majority self-financed. In Bangladesh, where BRAC was founded and the site of its global headquarters, BRAC financed 76% of its $682 million average annual national budget from 2011 to 2015 from its own socially-responsible businesses. However, much of BRAC’s most important work – including its schools, healthcare, ultra-poor graduation programme, climate change resilience, and most of its programmes outside Bangladesh – remains heavily reliant on outside donors.
NGO Advisor combines academic rigour with journalistic integrity and autonomy, evaluating each organisation based upon its objective merits. Co-founded by Jean-Christophe Nothias, a journalist formerly with The Global Journal, the rankings methodology was first developed in 2009.
Nothias has since enlisted experts at The University of Geneva and partners from the nonprofit sector to improve the evaluation metrics used to determine the rankings. Today, NGO Advisor presents its findings to an international audience of donors, volunteers, journalists, researchers, diplomats and nonprofit leaders to showcase best practices and mirror the evolving values of the global community.
The new rankings include several important organisations. The Skoll Foundation, a social entrepreneurship foundation based in Palo Alto, California, claimed the third spot, and Médecins Sans Frontières, also known as Doctors Without Borders, the number two. The Danish Refugee Council and Ashoka rounded out the rankings in the fourth and fifth spot, respectively.
Research shows that there is a significant return on investment made in the education sector. The national budget allocation for the sector, however, remains insufficient. In the pre-primary level, every 1 taka spent leads to a return of 19 taka. This was the primary focus of the seminar ‘Bangladesh education policy priorities’, held on 4 January 2017 at BRAC Centre.
BRAC, together with the international research institute, Copenhagen Consensus Center organised the event to discuss the strategies recommended for realising the Vision 2021 of the Bangladesh government. The minister for primary and mass education, advocate Mustafizur Rahman attended as the chief guest, while the additional secretary of the Ministry of Education, Chowdhury Mufad Ahmed was present as the special guest.
The programme was chaired by the director of BRAC’s education programme, Dr Safiqul Islam. KAM Morshed, director of BRAC’s advocacy for social change, moderated the first session. The keynote speakers at the event were Dr Atonu Rabbani, associate professor, Department of Economics, University of Dhaka; Dr Ahsanuzzaman, assistant professor, Department of Economics, North South University; and Dr S M Hafizur Rahman, professor, Institute of Education and Research, University of Dhaka. Mr Hasnuzzaman Zaman, outreach manager of Copenhagen Consensus Center made the opening statement.
The chief guest, advocate Mustafizur Rahman said, “Bangladesh will prioritise psychosocial stimulation for children and secondary education for girls.”
UNICEF representative, Edouard Beigbbeder said, “I hope the interventions discussed will be taken by the government and we can consider for implementation.”
The second session of the seminar was moderated by Gawher Nayeem Wahra, director of BRAC’s disaster management and climate change programme.
Some of the major challenges raised include the lack of quality education, high dropout rates in secondary schools, not evaluating students based on proper merits, high teacher to student ratio, and lack of accountability of teachers.
Talat Mahmud, director of education, Save the Children, Dr SM Hafisur Rahman, professor at Institute of Education and Research, University of Dhaka, Mohammed Shahidul Islam, education team leader, USAID, and Professor Abdul Bayes, director of BRAC’s research and evaluation division also spoke at the seminar.
On 4 November 2016, a team of European Union delegates including the Ambassador of Liberia, MsTiina Intelmann and two Estonian members of Parliament, Mati Raidma and Mart Nutt visited BRAC Liberia office at Tarbar community, Buchanan, Grand Bassa County.
The delegates visited the feed mill and poultry hatchery and met several model poultry farmers. They discussed the supply and demand of poultry and pig feed, and the poultry value chain.
The team congratulated BRAC for the new project called, ‘Supporting the poor and food and nutrition insecure to react to crises and strengthen resilience in Liberia’ that started in October 2016.
The EU delegates visited a BRAC model poultry rearer, Rachael Mama Joe at her house. Joe is known in her community for her hard work and success. She bears all expenses of raising her family and sending her children to school.
BRAC team with EU delegates in a hatchery and feed mill in Liberia.
Today on Monday (12 December) BRAC in a prompt move distributed relief among the victims of the fire that ravaged the Sattala slum at Mohakhali in the Dhaka city in the early hours today. A total of 115 families each received a blanket, a bar of soap, a sweater, two cooking and frying pots, spoons, two plates and a jar of water from BRAC staff in afternoon. Also identity cards were provided to these families which may help them receive relief assistance in future.
A meeting in this regard was also organised on the local IPH School and College premises today in which 30 NGOs participated. Facilitated by BRAC URBAN Development Programme, the participants reached a decision to strengthen the coordination of the relief and assistance activities for the Sattala slum victims.
On the other hand, BRAC has increased its time of the campaign for donations for the fire victims of Korail slum in Mohakhali. The campaign that began on December 7 will now end on December 17 (Saturday), instead of December 14, as previously announced. Under the new arrangement of the campaign, a portion of the donations received through campaign will be directed at the victims of Sattala slum. For this an additional amount of Tk 26 lakh will be needed.
Under the special donation campaign BRAC hopes to collect one crore 23 lakh and 75 thousand taka. The United Nations Development Programme has already donated Tk 65 lakh to BRAC from its own fund. The rest we expect to collect through other organisations and individuals. The fund will be distributed to 495 families who are major victims of the Korail slum fire. Each of these families will receive Tk 25 thousand if the fund can be raised as expected.
Interested organisations and individuals can send donation through bank account and bkash with details below.
Account name: BRAC, BRAC Centre, 75 Mohakhali
Bank name: BRAC Bank
Account number: 150120-2316474001
Bkash number: 01730321765 (instruction)
You are also requested to visit site for further details: response.brac.net
2000 people are homeless after Dhaka’s biggest slum caught fire on Sunday, 4 December. 495 households were destroyed in less than two hours.
BRAC has started a donation drive to raise BDT12,375,000 (BDT25,000 per family) for helping them to rebuild their lives. UNDP has contributed BDT 65, 000, 00 from their emergency fund. The remaining BDT 5,875,000 needs to be raised.
BRAC is working with Dhaka North City Corporation and various NGOs and community organisations in Korail in this effort.
225 children and eight pregnant mothers no longer have a place to sleep. Winter has just started, and the people who lost their homes in the fire have lost everything.
Interested people can donate directly to BRAC via a BRAC bank account,
Account name: BRAC, BRAC Centre, 75 Mohakhali
Account number: 150120-2316474001
Or Bkash number: 01730321765 (instruction).
BRAC has been supporting families since the fire started. BRAC staff were on the ground during the fire, shepherding children and young people through the chaos into a safe space nearby. The space was kept open, with food and water provided until everyone was connected to their families in the evening. Two pregnant mothers were evacuated.
In the two days following the fire, utensils and cookware, 500 blankets and hygiene soaps were distributed. Sir John Wilson School’s donated 758 pieces of clothing. Eight pregnant mothers received BDT 1,000 each in cash and will continue to receive free maternal health care for the next one month. BRAC will continue to provide treatment through a temporary medical camp.
To find more updates about the donation drive please visit: http://response.brac.net
For current students of the BRAC Driving school, please find the required forms below.
BRAC Uganda has been recognised for its excellent performance in financial reporting. We received the award in the NGO category at the 2016 Financial Reporting (FiRe) Awards, which took place on 10 November 2016 at the Kampala Serena Hotel.
We have been recognised every year since the awards were launched in 2011. This year, we competed against 20 other NGOs. The awards also recognise entrants from various industries including financial institutions, consumer and industrial products, education institutions, insurance services, the public sector and regulatory bodies and associations.
(Left to right) BRAC Uganda finance manager, Ronald Kasozire, accounts manager, Sachindra Ghosh, chief finance officer, Richard Kigozi and country representative, Bhuiyan Imran from BRAC received the award.
As one of the largest development organisations in the country, serving over four million people and employing over 2,400 Ugandans, we are engaged in poverty alleviation initiatives that include, but are not limited to, microfinance and small enterprise development, community healthcare and nutrition, agriculture and seed distribution, education and youth empowerment and livelihood programmes. We have established reporting systems to ensure transparency and enable successful implementation of our multi-sectoral programmes. These also ensure that we adhere to international financial reporting standards. It encourages more organisations to embrace quality financial reporting to improve their operations and comply with application financial reporting frameworks.
The FiRe Awards aims to promote financial reporting in compliance with international standards set out by the International Accounting Standards Board. It is organised by the Council of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda, Uganda Securities Exchange and the Capital Markets Authority.