Since commencing her post, British High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Ms. Sarah Cooke visited Sylhet for the first time on 23 August, Wednesday as a part of her mission and visited BRAC school beside Lakkatura Tea Garden.
During the visit, officials from The British High Commission accompanied The High Commissioner while Safi Rahman Khan, Director, Education, Skills Development, and Migration; Profulla Chandra Barman, Programme Head, BRAC Education Programme along with head office and field staff were present from BRAC.
The High Commissioner observed the class in the BRAC school and talked to the students about their experiences and feeling regarding getting back to school. Ms. Cooke shared her greeting with the teacher, staff, parents, and School Management Committee members and discussed the ongoing activities of the school.
Ms. Sarah Cooke expressed her contentment stating, “It was great to meet with the students and their parents who work at the tea plantations in Sylhet. It was clear to see that education is transformative, not just for the individual but also for the community. The UK is proud to support education for the most disadvantaged children in Bangladesh, with a particular focus on girls.”
Safi Rahman Khan conveyed his greetings to The High Commissioner and said “We are honoured to have welcomed Her Excellency Sarah Cooke to BRAC's education programme in the tea gardens of Sylhet to see first-hand the important work we are doing in partnership with the UK Government. All of us in the education sector have a responsibility to ensure that children living in poverty, particularly girls and children with disabilities, are not excluded from their right to education. Our accelerated schools are already delivering significant benefits, and Ms Cooke's visit will inspire and motivate our students, teachers, parents, and staff.”
Due to the unprecedented outbreak of COVID-19, all schools in Bangladesh were forced to shut down for 18 months, bringing traditional classroom teaching and learning to a standstill. The prolonged shutdown caused significant learning losses for children, putitng them at risk of dropping out and further swelling the ranks of an already sizable community of out-of-school children (OoSC).
Supported by The UK Government, the "Educate the Most Disadvantaged Children in Bangladesh (EMDC)" project of the BRAC Education Programme (BEP) is providing expedited primary education to OoSC from disadvantaged communities. The project's accelerated model includes a 4-month catch-up component (the Bridge course) to help students recover their previous learning. This is followed by a 6-month accelerated course with grade-specific learning, after which students transition to formal schools in the next grade.
The EMDC project is now in its second year, with more than 16,000 students having already completed the accelerated course from 650 BRAC schools. Additionally, 12,500 more students are currently enrolled in 500 more BRAC schools. It is estimated that over the project’s lifetime, a total of 1,47,500 OoSC will receive accelerated model education for 10 months through approximately 5,900 one-room schools.