For an organisation like BRAC, the implications of using AI to better understand clients needs has limitless potential. Imagine the students from our 20,000 schools getting customised feedback on their learning needs. With our vision centres in place, aiming to complete 1 million eye check-ups in the next two years, an Aravind-esque project is not a distant reality to provide better support to medical professionals.
Yet like any ambitious set of targets, not all the MDGs were fully met by many countries. Rather the goals worked as a framework upon which they could build their development policies and translate the policies into action. Let’s focus on one tiny target of a goal, yet one whose impact on the coming generations is most persisting: undernutrition. Undernutrition, a form of malnutrition, is a deficiency of calories of one or more essential nutrients. Two of the most used indicators to measure undernutrition are underweight and stunting.
According to the World Bank, people living on or under USD 1.25 per day are considered ‘ultra poor’. Global trends indicate that we are gradually and surely winning the fight against poverty. Still, a staggering 1.2 billion people are living in extreme poverty- that is almost four times the number of people living in USA.
Imagine you have just received the result of your secondary school certificate exam (equivalent to GCSE O’Levels). Congratulations! You have been awarded the highest grades: GPA 5, securing more than 80 per cent in all the subjects. You and your whole family celebrate while you start planning to go to a top college. Future is all set! But what if you are an indigenous girl in a poor family of five like Laome? Or what if your father is unemployed and your mother takes care of you and your three siblings on her own like Habib’s family? The future does not look that bright now – it looks quite bleak.
“I couldn’t help but teach – it was the only way I could manage time and space to get my own studies done,” says Habib with a wide grin. He was enjoying my reaction as upon hearing this, the biscuit I was having dropped from my hand. Habib is from the first batch of students to receive BRAC’s Medhabikash scholarship. He is now a lecturer at a private university in Dhaka, and he looks nothing like one.
The woman was crying and saying something in an incomprehensible manner. I was sitting there, a couple of feet away, wondering what I had said wrong. The man sitting beside her didn’t react to her sudden burst of tears – she is his wife and he has gotten used to seeing her like this. My colleague Lusana and the BBC documentary producer Sarah both went quiet for a while.