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07 March 2009, Dhaka. BRAC Founder and Chairperson Fazle Hasan Abed attended the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) White Oak retreat from March 4- 6. CGI's strategic planning retreat at White Oak was an exclusive gathering for 50 distinguished global leaders and experts from business, civil society, and the public sector to work with the CGI team to develop the priorities and goals for CGI and their members in 2009. It was a preparation for the Fifth Anniversary CGI Meeting this September.

The participants of the meeting included William Jefferson Clinton, 42nd President of the United States and Founding Chairman of Clinton Global Initiative, Justin Yifu Lin, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist of the World Bank, Margaret McKenna, President of The Wal-Mart Foundation, Dr. James Mwangi, Managing Director and Chief Executive of Officer of Equity Bank Limited, Pamela Passman, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Corporation among others.

Fazle Abed was involved in a series of discussions and working sessions, where participants assessed the most pressing financial, social, and environmental challenges facing the global community in 2009 and recommend topics to feature in the CGI Annual Meeting. In addition, this forum provided an opportunity to propose new initiatives and potential partners for commitment development.

Fazle Hasan Abed received the first Clinton Global Citizen Award in 2007.

 

07 March 2009, Dhaka. Eleven of the world's leading sustainable banks have created a new alliance to build a positive alternative to a global financial system in crisis. The banks, which have assets of over $10 billion and serve over seven million customers in 20 countries, came together for the first time at a special meeting in the Netherlands from 2 - 4 March.

The banks in the Alliance range from BRAC Bank - part of BRAC, to ShoreBank, a community bank based in Chicago, and Triodos Bank, Europe's leading sustainable bank.

The Global Alliance for Banking on Values was launched at an event which included speeches from Her Royal Highness Princess Máxima of The Netherlands, a former banker and former member of the United Nations Group on Inclusive Financial Sectors, and Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme.

The new partnership plans to develop new ways of working, build organisations better suited to long-term sustainable thinking, and new forms of ownership and economic cooperation. And, given the financial crisis, and its profound and lasting influence, the new Alliance believes its timing is crucial.

According to Fazle Hasan Abed, Founder and Chairperson of BRAC, "We are increasingly dependent on each other economically, wherever we live in the world. If we are to tackle the global problems we face, we are going to need international action to do it. We believe these banks have the potential to change the architecture of the financial world, and start delivering lasting solutions for unserved and underserved communities and sectors."

Founded by BRAC Bank in Bangladesh, ShoreBank in the United States, and Triodos Bank in The Netherlands, the Alliance's members are senior bankers, seven of whom are founders of the institutions themselves.

Debate
07 February 2009, Dhaka. Debate Aynapur High School of Jhenaigati Upazilla of Sherpur watched victory unfold as they won the Interschool debate competition arranged by BRAC Education Programme. In the final phase of this debate titled, "Reading class textbooks is enough for student improvement," the team for the resolution- Mahishbathan High School of Mahadevpur Upazilla, Naogaon secured the runner's up position. Today, Saturday (07.02.09) the best speaker prize was awarded to the opposition team member Sumaiya Kawser Kajli at the Dhaka Teacher's Training College Milnayoton where the debate was organised.

Chaired by the Executive Director of BRAC Dr. Mahabub Hossain and accompanying Chief Guest - Education Secretary Syed Ataur Rahman, the competition was officially inaugurated by literary intellect and author Selina Hossain. Speeches were also delivered by special guest of the ceremony Managing Director of secondary and higher education department Professor Khan Mohammed Habibur Rahman and Director of BRAC Education Programme Dr. Safiqul Islam.

BRAC Education Programme's aspiration to elevate education standards has come a long way in surpassing the great challenges of educating Bangladeshi's at all levels, especially the goal of ensuring primary education. The education programme at BRAC assists the Government of Bangladesh by training secondary level teachers on a variety of subjects with the objective of enhancing the non- government secondary education. There are other initiatives spun around this programme including management related training for the headmaster and school management committee members. Taking this training one step further is the "Mentoring" Programme which started in 2003 - an endeavour out of the ordinary involving the training of secondary students building them to take a real life experience into teaching others. This training to students inspires students to become the little assistants of the classroom where they pull weaker students out of their apparent trouble at class work, motivate more class presence in order to keep the school premises clean, airy and hygienic. They help to inspire students into participating in extracurricular activities - an intention to sustain their active participation in the various activities occurring in their schools to improve the schools educational status and produce an overall better environment for all. This mentoring programme, which has won wide appraisal, stimulates many a dormant talent through an encouragement of active interest in all that is going on in the school.

The debate training and competition were both fractions of this mentoring activity. BRAC arranged this debate competition after selecting 99 of the best schools that had undergone this mentoring training. 443 schools participated this year 2008 in the debate competition.

 

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21 January 2009, Dhaka. BRAC's chairperson Fazle Hasan Abed, was recently bestowed with an honourary doctorate in humane letters by Rikkyo University in Japan. The President of Rikkyo University Mr. Hideitsu Ohashi gave a warm welcome to Fazle Abed on January 20th   at an award-giving ceremony followed by an insightful lecture delivered by the founder of BRAC titled, "A New Path to Innovate Our Global Society."

In another initiative taken by Rikkyo University, BRAC, and BRAC University, a comprehensive co-operation agreement on both academic and practical grounds has been signed. Focusing on Japan and other Asian countries, this fruitful alliance will lead to a partnership in research and education aiming to cure social problems that counter the advancement of globalisation, such as poverty, governance issues and threats to the environment.
 

Sunday, 23 November 2008 18:00

Book Launching: "Inside Schools"

24 November 2008, Dhaka. A book titled 'Inside Schools' jointly written by Samir Ranjan Nath, research coordinator in the research and evaluation division of BRAC, and Amina Mahbub, chief of research evaluation and dissemination unit of Plan Bangladesh was launched at BRAC Centre Inn in the city.

In the launching ceremony, Primary and Mass Education Adviser Rasheda K Choudhury underlined the importance of constituency advocacy to ensure education for all (EFA) and reach the target of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. “Still it is a big challenge for all to bring all the children to primary schools by 2010. We are yet to reach our target due to some deprivation in pocket areas like char land, monga region, children with disabilities, indigenous and Dalit communities,” she added. Rasheda said the prevailing class culture would have to be changed especially by ensuring the education of the children from hard-core families. She also encouraged the third group research for identifying the key points on how to reach education in the deprivation points.

Samir Ranjan Nath, one of the authors, said, “The book is an outcome of an ethnographic investigation in four medium category government primary schools. Key theme of the research was 'school culture'. How the people in schools do things was the centre of the study, which included knowledge, belief, behaviour, morals, law, custom and other capacities and habits.”
Former adviser Kazi Fazlur Rahman, Director General of Primary Education Directorate Nazrul Islam Khan and Brac Executive Director Dr Mahbub Hossain also took part in the programme.

19 November 2008, Dhaka. BRAC and the MasterCard Foundation announced yesterday a $19.6 million programme to expand financial services to the poor across Uganda, benefiting approximately 2 million people. The programme will provide economically active women in Uganda with loans, training and technical support to enable them to improve their livelihoods. Additionally, the programme will expand vocational and life-skills education for adolescent girls. As part of this programme, BRAC will also explore the feasibility of becoming a regulated deposit-taking institution in Uganda, a role it has not yet played in Africa. 

This initiative will demonstrate for the first time the full potential of BRAC’s holistic microfinance approach to reduce poverty and improve livelihoods in Africa.  Insights generated from this programme will enable BRAC to accelerate its long-term plan to adapt this approach for other African countries.

“The MasterCard Foundation is working with innovators like BRAC to expand the access and reach of microfinance services to the poor, supporting their entrepreneurship so they can improve their own lives and communities,” said Reeta Roy, President and CEO of The MasterCard Foundation. 

“This initiative with The MasterCard Foundation will be our largest programme in Africa,” said Fazle Abed, Founder and Chairperson of BRAC.  “What we learn in Uganda, including how to provide savings to poor women and their communities, will help us rapidly scale up our operations to provide services to millions of people throughout Africa.”

BRAC is poised to become one of Uganda’s most effective institutions serving significant numbers of rural households. The government of Uganda has made expanding financial services to the rural poor one of its top priorities. More than 37 percent of Uganda’s population live on less than a dollar a day and 62 percent do not have access to financial services.

It may be mentioned here that BRAC is one of the world’s leading providers of microfinance services and its approach, “microfinance multiplied” increases the ability of poor clients to productively use their loans to augment their incomes, and build their assets, as well as stimulate economic and social development within their communities. BRAC recognizes the need of poor people to have a secure place to save their money and the role of savings in sustainable microfinance.

ABOUT THE MASTERCARD FOUNDATION

The MasterCard Foundation is an independent, private foundation based in Toronto, Canada. It was established through the generosity of MasterCard Worldwide customer financial institutions at the time of the company’s initial public offering in 2006. The Foundation has more than $1 billion in assets.  Its vision is to make the economy work for everybody by advancing effective and innovative programmes in the areas of microfinance and youth education.  For more information, go to www.themastercardfoundation.org

 

Saturday, 15 November 2008 18:00

Fazle Abed Awarded Asiatic Society Fellowship

16 November 2008, Dhaka. BRAC Chairman Fazle Hasan Abed was honoured with fellowship of Asiatic Society of Bangladesh (ASB) in recognition of his contribution to national development and poverty reduction yesterday.

He was also given a reception at the programme held at the National Museum auditorium in the city yesterday.
Chairman of the Centre for Policy Dialogue Prof Rehman Sobhan, who is also a fellow of ASB, attended the programme as chief guest.

Prof Sobhan hoped that Abed would take his innovative initiatives forward and turn the poor and deprived people into development agents.

He said BRAC's system of non-formal education has become a role model in many countries.

The speakers appreciated the development theories of Abed, his thoughts and steps for the improvement of education sector, and the contribution of BRAC to poverty reduction.

Abed in his speech said, “When we were engaged in rehabilitation work after the liberation war we learnt that long-term development initiative needed to eliminate corruption from the country and we have started doing that through BRAC.”

“The honour was given not only to me but also to all the staffs of BRAC,” he said.

Abed formed BRAC in 1972 with a view to rehabilitating the poor people in the aftermath of the Liberation War.

BRAC has now expanded its activities to different countries of Asia and Africa including Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Uganda.

Abed also received many prestigious international awards like Unicef Maurice Pate Award, Ramon Magsaysay Award, Hilton Award and Rockefeller Award.

Presided over by ASB President Prof Sirajul Islam, the programme was also addressed by another ASB Fellow Prof AF Salahudddin Ahmed, Vice-presidents Sharif Uddin Ahmed and Ameer-ul-Islam Chowdhury.

Saturday, 01 November 2008 18:00

Kidnapped BRAC Afghanistan Staff Released

02 November 2008, Dhaka. The two BRAC staff members who were kidnapped in Afghanistan last week have been released. BRAC Afghanistan area managers Akhter Ali and Mohammad Shahjahan Ali, who were abducted on 23 October from Ghazni, Afghanistan, were left in front of BRAC’s Ghazni office on Saturday evening by their captors. BRAC Afghanistan officials, who found Akhter and Shahjahan to be in good health, conveyed them to the head office in Kabul on Sunday morning. The two released staff members have since been in contact with their families in Bangladesh and BRAC is working to bring them back home as soon as possible.

The BRAC chairperson expressed great relief and joy at the release of the two BRAC staff members. In separate letters, he thanked the Government of Bangladesh, in particular the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Government of Afghanistan, in particular the Ministries of the Interior and Rural Rehabilitation and Development, the Afghanistan Embassy in Dhaka and the Ghazni authorities for their prompt action in securing the release of Akhter and Shahjahan.

Mr. Abed pledged that BRAC will continue to put maximum effort in ensuring the safety of all its staff members in Afghanistan as well as in the other countries where it operates.
 

Saturday, 01 November 2008 18:00

Kidnapped BRAC Afghanistan Staff Released

02 November 2008, Dhaka. The two BRAC staff members who were kidnapped in Afghanistan last week have been released. BRAC Afghanistan area managers Akhter Ali and Mohammad Shahjahan Ali, who were abducted on 23 October from Ghazni, Afghanistan, were left in front of BRAC’s Ghazni office on Saturday evening by their captors. BRAC Afghanistan officials, who found Akhter and Shahjahan to be in good health, conveyed them to the head office in Kabul on Sunday morning. The two released staff members have since been in contact with their families in Bangladesh and BRAC is working to bring them back home as soon as possible.

The BRAC chairperson expressed great relief and joy at the release of the two BRAC staff members. In separate letters, he thanked the Government of Bangladesh, in particular the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Government of Afghanistan, in particular the Ministries of the Interior and Rural Rehabilitation and Development, the Afghanistan Embassy in Dhaka and the Ghazni authorities for their prompt action in securing the release of Akhter and Shahjahan.

Mr. Abed pledged that BRAC will continue to put maximum effort in ensuring the safety of all its staff members in Afghanistan as well as in the other countries where it operates.
 

29 October 2008, Dhaka. Rescue attempts of the two abducted BRAC staff members in Afghanisan have been intensified. Jalaluddin Ahmed, BRAC Health Programme Head who was previously the Country Programme Head of BRAC Afghanistan will be traveling to Afghanistan tonight to oversee the rescue efforts in Ghazni. Meanwhile in Dhaka, BRAC senior officials continue to be in contact with the families of the two abducted BRAC staff members.

Meanwhile, Shahabuddin Ahmed , General Manager  -BRAC Afghanistan, who is currently in Ghazni has established contacts with the Local Governor and Senior Officials there and discussed the situation. The local security authority of Ghazni is also working for the rescue of BRAC employees.

In Bangladesh, Aminul Alam Executive Director – BRAC Overseas Programmes, met with the family members of the kidnapped BRAC staff members Akhter Ali and Mohammad Shahjahan Ali today. He updated them with the ongoing rescue operations being implemented by BRAC. Shafiqul Islam, Director, BRAC Education Programme , was also present in the meeting.

It maybe mentioned, BRAC Afghanistan’s Regional Managers Akhter Ali and Mohammad Shahjahan Ali were kidnapped last Thursday, 23 October, from Ghazni province of Afghanistan.

BRAC Officials meet with Foreign Adviser to discuss Afghanistan Kidnapping

26 October 2008, DHAKA – BRAC Executive Director of Overseas Programmes, Md. Aminul Alam, and Director, Public Affairs & Communications, M. Anwarul Haq attended a meeting on Sunday afternoon with the Foreign Affairs Adviser to the Government of Bangladesh, Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury, and the Afghan Ambassador to Bangladesh, Ahmad Karim Nawabi, to discuss the abduction last Thursday of the two BRAC Afghanistan area managers in Ghazni, Afghanistan. The BRAC senior officials urged the Bangladeshi government to extend all possible collaboration in their efforts to secure the release of the kidnapped staff members. The Foreign Affairs Adviser assured that all cooperation will be extended by the Foreign Ministry and also made an appeal to the Afghanistan government, through the Ambassador, to extend its support.

Speaking to the media following the meeting, Md. Aminul Alam said that while BRAC’s activities would continue in Afghanistan, the organisation will work to build the capacity of its Afghan staff members so that it can withdraw all Bangladeshi employees within five years.

Earlier, senior BRAC Afghanistan officials, including the country programme coordinator Md. Fazlul Hoque, met with the Afghan Minister of Interior, Hanif Atmar, Saturday evening to discuss the matter. Mr. Atmar assured the BRAC officials that he has been taking all necessary action to rescue the abductees. During the meeting, he requested Afghan security and intelligence authorities to look into the matter.

Meanwhile, BRAC officials in Bangladesh continue to be in constant communication with the families of Akhter and Shahjahan. Md. Aminul Alam met with the wives and other family members of Akhter Ali and Mohammad Shahjahan Ali at the BRAC head office in Mohakhali on Sunday afternoon.