20 April 2009, Dhaka. BRAC is pleased to announce that Norway's State Secretary for International Development, Hakon A. Gulbandsen, undertook a field trip to Patharghata, Barguna, on Sunday, April 19 2009, to observe BRAC's Sidr rehabilitation work. He was accompanied by the Norwegian Ambassador and BRAC's Executive Director.
The State Secretary saw BRAC's implementation of activities on improved housing for the homeless people. He spoke to victims about their Sidr experience and learnt how they were gradually resuming normal lives. He conveyed his condolences to families that had lost close relatives in the cyclone. He saw how a Pond Sand Filter is providing safe drinking water to over 1000 people and expressed satisfaction with the benefits that the filter was offering to the community. He inspected an under-construction multi-purpose cyclone shelter that is being built on a "killa" to secure livestock during cyclones.
The State Secretary talked to the local people about climate change and how they perceived its impacts. He was impressed by the BRAC demonstration projects on agriculture and the ways in which BRAC was preparing communities to adapt to climate change. He appreciated the substantive role women play in rural development and their gradual entry into the work force.
The State Secretary met with Chairperson Fazle Hasan Abed today (20.04.09) at BRAC headquarters during which they discussed health and education outreach activities for reaching the MDGs, how Bangladesh could be role model for adaptive climate change efforts and the critical importance of gender equality.
15 April 2009, Dhaka. BRAC is endorsing the Campaign for Client Protection in Microfinance which is launching Spring 2009. The Center for Financial Inclusion is serving as interim host for the Campaign for Client Protection, a collaborative initiative endorsed and led by leaders in the microfinance industry.
The Campaign for Client Protection in Microfinance - Launching Spring 2009
The Campaign for Client Protection in Microfinance seeks to unite microfinance providers worldwide to develop and implement standards for the appropriate treatment of low-income clients based on the six principles. The overall objective of the Campaign is for these principles to become embedded within the fabric of the microfinance community and for microfinance to be recognized as a strongly pro-consumer industry.
Beyond fostering adherence to these common principles, the Campaign will develop a toolkit to help microfinance institutions incorporate the principles into their operations. It will also work towards certification standards that set apart those institutions which have fully implemented pro-consumer practices. The size of the mission is enormous, and collaboration is essential to the Campaign's success.
The objectives of the Campaign are to:
º Unite the microfinance industry around a clear statement of the core principles of client protection;
º Gain the commitment of MFIs and their staff to operate under these principles, demonstrated through a Microbanker`s Oath, in the spirit of the Hippocratic Oath;
º Establish a tool kit, based on research findings from the Beyond Codes action research project, to assist in the implementation of the principles into all aspects of institutional operations, including a self-assessment protocol and an institutional action plan;
º Create a website community to unite financial service providers, microfinance professionals and supporting organizations (investors, microfinance associations, network organizations, etc.) and provide for an ongoing dialogue with colleagues as they implement the tool kit;
º Work with the microfinance industry to create independent programs for institutional certification.
Integrating good client protection practices into MFI operations worldwide is a large undertaking; it requires the involvement of all facets of the industry. The Campaign for Client Protection offers all microfinance industry stakeholders the opportunity to join in this work as we seek the answers together. Together we can discover how best to advance this agenda and integrate good consumer protection practices more fully into all institutions that work in microfinance.
As an initial goal, the Campaign has committed to engaging at least half of the world's 500 largest microfinance institutions (MFIs) reporting to the MIX Market within the next three years. The MIX 500 largest MFIs serve an estimated 65 million poor borrowers worldwide, 70 percent of them women. Ultimately, the Campaign envisions that thousands of people working in the microfinance industry will also personally sign the Banker's Oath via the campaign website.
07 April 2009, Dhaka. The third Technical Advisory Committee meeting of Manoshi was held in BRAC Center, Dhaka, Bangladesh during April 5-6, 2009. Manoshi, a five year community-based maternal, neonatal and child health interventions funded by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundations is being implemented by BRAC to reach 8 million populations in urban slums of Bangladesh to reduce maternal, neonatal and child mortality. In order to maintain the highest level of quality, the Technical Advisory Committee comprising renowned national and international public health professionals, scientists, academics and health care professionals meet each year to provide guidance to the project for further improvement. In addition to field visits in urban slums of Dhaka City, in the meeting, the progress of the project was reviewed. The participants suggested models for packaging services in urban slums and discussed how to make this project sustainable. During discussion, many research issues were identified that captured successes, challenges and gaps of Manoshi project. The meeting was also attended by Mr. Fazle Hasan Abed, the Chairperson and Dr. Mahabub Hossain, the Executive Director of BRAC.
24 March 2009, Dhaka. The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (EKN) and BRAC signed an agreement on March 23 under which the Netherlands Development Cooperation programme will provide support to the Institute for Educational Development (IED) at BRAC University. The Netherlands contribution will be 50.4 crore takas (approximately Euro 5 million) over five years.
The agreement was signed by the Netherlands Ambassador, Ms. Bea ten Tusscher, and by Mr. Fazle H. Abed, Chairperson of BRAC, at a simple ceremony at the Westin hotel.
Under the terms of this agreement, IED will use the Dutch support to implement the Educational Research, Training and Advocacy Program (ERTAP) whose objective is to improve quality, equity and efficiency in the education system. ERTAP targets primary and secondary education through interlinked activities: design and testing of teaching, training and learning materials; degree and diploma courses and policy dialogue. The goal is to complement and support government efforts through partnership and collaboration. In her remarks, the Dutch Ambassador acknowledged the remarkable progress of Bangladesh in expanding primary education. She recognized the complementary role of NGO's in achieving universal primary education and emphasized the strategic importance of effective partnering between IED and the Ministry of Education. The Dutch Ambassador also expressed her appreciation for the joint efforts of Government and NGOs to substantially improve the quality of teaching and learning and to reach the excluded, hard-to-reach school-age children. In his remarks the BRAC Chairperson emphasized the importance of the collaboration between IED and the national systems to improve human resources in the education sector in Bangladesh.
The Director of IED Ms. Erum Mariam also conveyed a speech during the ceremony.
24 March 2009, Dhaka. The Australian High Commissioner, Dr. Justin Lee and Australian aid officials, Ms. Octavia Borthwick, Assistant Director General, Asia Regional Branch, Ms. Elaine Ward, Director, South Asia, Mr. Mark Bailey, Regional Counsellor, South Asia, AusAID and Ms. Zabeta Moutafis, First Secretary (Development Cooperation) visited two BRAC primary schools in Badda area on the morning of March 23, 2009.
Accompanied by Mr. Safiqul Islam, Director, BRAC Education Programme and other BRAC staff, the delegation visited two grades II and V schools. The visitors took pleasure in a vivid depiction of how BRAC schools function through extra-curricular activity such as singing and dancing, and spent time interacting with the children.
The High Commissioner expressed his keen admiration at BRAC's pedagogic system and skills of the students. He also expressed the relevance of education in children's lives for their future and their families.
The delegation articulated, how this visit has been one of valued and enthusiasm and showed gratitude to BRAC staff for its honest effort to provide education to unprivileged children.
BRAC is a valued and major partner to Australia. BRAC is seen as effective, responsive and highly accountable using a very skilled and committed team.
BRAC implements a number of key activities that are also seen as priority areas for the Australian Government - non-formal primary education, livelihood development and maternal, neonatal and child health.
The Australian Government is pleased to be supporting BRAC's initiatives in basic education in Bangladesh.
The school visits were followed by a meeting between the Australian delegation and Mr. Fazle Hasan Abed, Founder and Chairperson, Mr. Mahabub Hossain, Executive Director and other high officials of BRAC to discuss issues of ongoing and future cooperation.
09 March 2009, Dhaka. World Bank Vice President for South Asia Region Ms. Isabel Guerrero and country head Mr. Xian Zhu paid a short visit to a BRAC school today and later called on the BRAC Chairperson and founder Fazle Hasan Abed.
In the morning Ms. Guerrero along with country representative Mr. Xian Zhu visited two classes in an urban cluster school, located in the capital's Badda area. Ms. Guerrero spent some time talking to the students about their education. Later Ms. Guerrero talked to some of the children's guardians and visited two of their homes.
Following the visit Isabel Guerrero stated, "I was inspired to see the bright and cheerful faces of girls and boys who are receiving holistic education in BRAC schools. The success and outreach of BRAC programmes demonstrates the high potential of Bangladesh and resilience of its people."
The school visit was followed by a meeting with BRAC's Chairperson and founder Fazle Hasan Abed at BRAC's Head office. Ms. Guerrero expressed interest in learning about the evolution of BRAC's programmes and social enterprises. They exchanged views on a number of other topics including the likely impact of the global financial crisis on the poor. Both agreed that the provision of quality education, at both primary and secondary levels, remains an important challenge for Bangladesh.
The delegation which also included other senior officials of World Bank was accompanied by BRAC Executive Director Dr. Mahabub Hossain and Director of BRAC University Education Institute Erum Marium.
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.
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.
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.