Sir Fazle stresses quality improvement of basic services and lasting partnerships
Bangladesh will have to shift its focus from providing basic services only to ensuring improved quality of those services and work to forge stronger partnerships between the government, non-governmental development actors and private sector to fulfil the targets of its 7th five-year plan and the sustainable development goals.
BRAC founder-chairperson Sir Fazle Hasan Abed made these observations while speaking at the Bangladesh Development Forum 2018. The two-day high profile event organised by the Economic Relations Division (ERD) under the finance ministry concluded today on Thursday in the capital.
Sir Fazle spoke at the opening plenary session titled ‘Implementation of the 7th FYP and the SDGs: Challenges and way forward’ on Wednesday (17 January 2018). The session was also addressed, among others, by BRAC’s executive director Dr Muhammad Musa, its senior director for strategy, communications and empowerment Asif Saleh, and director of Advocacy for Social Change department KAM Morshed.
Stressing three areas of priority in implementing the government’s 7th five-year plan and achieve the SDG targets, Sir Fazle pointed out that eradicating extreme poverty, improving the quality of basic services and enhancing the quality of education will be the vital factors in this regard.
‘We must prioritise the eradication of extreme poverty in Bangladesh. While one cannot deny the tremendous progress made, there are still 20 million people in our country who live in the direst forms of poverty and deprivation. The government has taken many initiatives, including the Ekti Bari Ekti Khamar project, to help people in extreme poverty. BRAC pioneered the ultra-poor graduation approach, which has lifted millions of people out of ultra-poverty in Bangladesh, and has been replicated in over 50 countries globally,’ he said, underscoring the need for all relevant actors to join hands to eradicate extreme poverty from Bangladesh.
Sir Fazle also called on relevant actors to work together to reduce maternal mortality. ‘A recent report indicates that some of the gains achieved during the MDG era have now stalled. The maternal mortality ratio (MMR) has remained the same at 196 per 100,000 live births between 2010 and 2016. We have to dig into the reasons why such an impressive trajectory of improvements has stopped,’ he said.
Collaboration of all relevant actors is a must for quality improvement of education at all levels, he noted, further commenting on the importance of teachers’ capacity building at the pre-primary level. ‘In order to cater to the needs of young children, the teachers need special orientation, training and support. They need to be more like facilitators, the classrooms need to look very different and the children need to learn through play.’
Sir Fazle also observed that the government in its endeavour to reform public sector institutions should involve the civil society as well. ‘The government alone cannot address the challenge of reforming its public institutions. It will require credible partners, and here too the civil society organisations can play an extremely constructive and positive role’ he said.