All Blogs

December 14, 2017

Improving lives: One BRAC at a time

Bangladesh is amongst the world’s ‘newest’ countries, starting life in 1971 when it declared independence from Pakistan. It is a country of 150 million, of which 46.5 million (31%) live on less than USD 2 per day. And, much like its neighbour — India — limited opportunity and accessibility in Bangladesh has prevented millions from obtaining a quality education. It is against this backdrop that many organisations are now leading the way in the fight against poverty and illiteracy.

One such organisation is BRAC, an international development organisation based in Bangladesh, which is also now the largest non-governmental development organisation …

December 14, 2017

What is education really achieving? Here are 10 things to know.

Here are 10 takeaways from the Frugal Innovation Forum 2017. Themed around ‘scaling quality education’, the forum brought together over 250 development practitioners, non-profit innovators, teachers, social entrepreneurs and investors from across the globe.

1. Double troubles of learning and education

Reports from the World Bank (2017) and UNESCO (2017) have cautioned the global community:

Learning is in crisis and education has come off its tracks. 60% of the children in the world are not learning, even though 85% of these children are in school.

2. Going local

We have to contextualise and localise the national curriculum according to local

December 7, 2017

Preparing for exams on a remote island

They say this place was haunted.

The local who guarded the property at night was terrified at the idea of opening a school here.

“A school in a lonely place like this?” he muttered, “Just wait and see.”

Three years have passed by since. The ghosts have fled the scene, and the nights are no longer lonely but full of life.

This year, a group of 74 young girls and boys preparing for their Junior School Certificate examinations made it their new haunt.

Supervising them 24/7 was a dedicated team of teachers and staff, who the Headmaster, Abdul Malek, calls

December 7, 2017

Four myths about innovation that we challenged this summer

This November, out of over 80 projects, 27 from across Asia were awarded grants and mentorship support. These were four myths that were broken:

1. 9-5 job holders cannot innovate

Many of us all have our own image of how an innovator should look like, what language they speak, or what YouTube channels they’re subscribed to. They are one type of innovator, but only one.

Anyone can do it. All it requires is commitment, discipline and time. There are several ways how one can take an innovative idea forward.

Asfia Sultana, one of the grantees of the Alumni Innovation

December 6, 2017

Inside Cox’s Bazar’s settlements where childhood and laughter still exist

It’s a life of uncertainty, and a life inside a jail. Movement is strictly regulated and there is no assurance of a regular food supply. Basic services like water, sanitation and health are in place but the needs are far greater.

Within all these odds, however, I also catch glimpses of smiles as children play in whatever open spaces available, running around the endless maze of shanties or making toys out of mud.

Yesterday I was in the camp once again, this time to select sites for fecal sludge management in the settlements of Hakimpara in Ukhia. The rows of

December 1, 2017
BLOG Youth

How to increase the world’s GDP by 7%: Employ people with disabilities

Loss of hearing is the second most common disability in Bangladesh. People with hearing impairments make up 16% of the total disabled population.

Shormila lost her hearing when she was eight years old. “My father struck me very hard one day and I lost my ability to hear soon after.” Her parents were unable to afford treatment.


A once outgoing Shormila found herself stuck at home. She found it increasingly difficult to cope with everyday tasks. “We live on a busy road and I stopped going to school in class 5 because I would be scared of speeding cars.”

November 26, 2017

What do safe spaces in a humanitarian crisis look like?

A group of young women clad in vibrant headscarves have formed a moving train, hands locked to each other’s shoulders. They stop, look at each other and smile, clapping their hands together, and exploding into song:

We are all together in harmony, we are all together.

Guiding them is a facilitator dressed head to toe in the brightest colours, Hamida Akhter Jahan.

She asks a girl in a pink dress to step forward. Everyone around her claps in encouragement.

The girl starts reciting a traditional Rakhine poem. Everyone chimes in, turning it into an anthem.

With 192 of these spaces

November 26, 2017
BLOG Urban

Reimagining slums: Innovative solutions to Bangladesh’s urban housing dilemma

Dhaka resident Mohammad Ali lost the life he had known within seconds because of river erosion. He was forced to come to the capital and largest metropolitan area in Bangladesh in search of a better future. He is another face in the sea of 6.5 million people who have migrated to the city.

The fast-paced population growth creates a housing demand of 120,000 new units every year. The housing deficit has quadrupled in the last decade and, in the absence of adequate measures, the deficit is projected to increase to 8.5 million units by 2021.

The dynamics within an informal

November 20, 2017

Learn to play: 3 playful innovations in education

A learning crisis

The child with his nose in a book might not be the only one learning. This was one of the bold messages from the Frugal Innovation Forum 2017. The forum’s innovators and speakers called attention to children’s right to education and play.

But a child’s right to play has been forgotten. Disappearing playgrounds and prevailing pedagogies that push out extra-curricular programmes have become the norm.  This year’s Frugal Innovation Forum, themed on “Scaling Quality Education” became a hub for innovators- who see the coupling of play and education as the path for children of the future.

November 19, 2017

Making our roads safer: World day for road traffic victims

The UN World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, pursuant to General Assembly resolution 60/5, observed every third Sunday in November, is a major advocacy day for road traffic injury prevention. This year’s theme- “reduce road fatalities and serious injuries by 50%”- has been framed in line with the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011–20 and has reaffirmed the importance of drawing urgent measures to reduce the prevalence of road crash.

Speeding, impaired driving (due to alcohol/drugs/fatigue), not wearing seat belts or helmets, and texting are some of the factors that lead to road crash.

Unsafe road

November 14, 2017

Is IT innovation in education oversold?

Focusing on scaling up quality education, BRAC hosted an international conference titled “Frugal Innovation Forum 2017” on 9-11 November 2017 at BRAC’s conference centre in Savar. Some 200 educationists and innovators from Bangladesh, Australia, India, Nepal and South Africa presented projects based on innovative solutions for improving quality in education.

Only 25 percent of the 5th grade children could read at minimum grade level in Bangladesh, which means three quarters could not quite read, write and do their sums after completing primary education. This was the finding of a rigorous sample survey under Primary Education Directorate auspices in 2013. The …

November 12, 2017
BLOG General

A pioneer in public health policy wins US Medical Award of Excellence

Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC), a global nonprofit that creates, finds and supports programmes that directly improve the health and well-being of children and their families around the world, honoured Dr Mushtaque Chowdhury for his leadership in community-based primary healthcare, poverty alleviation programmes, education for children and women’s empowerment.

“Dr Chowdhury is a pioneer in education and public health policy and his work has significantly impacted the health of children and their families,” said Sheila Musolino, president and chief executive officer, RMHC. “It is an honour to celebrate the extraordinary work done by Dr Chowdhury who has had a revolutionary …