While the situation is the worst it has ever been, we are better equipped than we have ever been. This success can be credited to collaborative efforts by the government and civil society, which ensure shelter homes, pre-disaster preparedness, and early warning systems.
The Frugal Innovation Forum is a platform for leaders from the global south to connect and explore solutions to the world’s toughest challenges. Development practitioners, social entrepreneurs, activists, policy-makers and academics collaborate for three days to work towards impact at scale.
For several years now, we have seen Dhaka repeatedly ranked as one of the least livable cities in the world. One major factor is our transport system. A city of 20 million people, no metro system and an inadequate number of buses create a traffic nightmare. Those who depend on buses suffer the most: drivers pack people into buses, drive aggressively and stop haphazardly, sometimes in the middle of the street. It is almost impossible for women to get a ride during rush hours.
The Bangladesh Prime Minister this week launched the latest addition to the country’s digital curriculum to reach 20 million primary school students, continuing to revolutionise one of the most under-resourced education systems in South Asia.
According to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 31, “every child has the right to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities”. It is with the goal of ensuring this right that BRAC Institute of Educational Development (BIED) started piloting 50 play centres in both rural and urban areas of Bangladesh since June 2015. This large-scale project, which will be piloting play centre models for the next five years, will cater to children as young as six months, to up to five years of age.
In Bangladesh, there has been significant improvement in primary and secondary education. But the fact remains that as many as four million children remain out of school each year, mainly due to challenges of accessibility and affordability or being compelled to choose between earning and education.
Taking on the challenge of reaching out to children of families who face social exclusion, BRAC’s education programme has reached out to the children of sex workers. My visit to a school in Douladia showed me what it means to work with a group that is socially neglected.
As the World Education Forum meets in Incheon, South Korea, it is time to confront some unsettling facts about the state of education in the world today. More than 91 per cent of children of primary school age are now enrolled in school, but progress on educating the remaining 9 per cent has slowed to a near standstill. The numbers have barely moved since 2005, and girls are still disproportionately left behind.
In Dhaka, it is a common sight to see street children running around, dodging vehicles, and weaving in and out of traffic jams. Some beg for money while others attempt to sell flowers, stickers or candy. It is also common to see street children carrying loads, often too heavy a burden for their little shoulders. But these are only a few examples of occupations street children are forced to take on. Many homeless boys and girls at BRAC’s children’s centres for the urban street children programme (USCP) were involved in similar jobs before being taken in, in 2013.
To create a more fluid space in the classroom, where learning is not hierarchical, lessons on sexual and reproductive health and rights and gender (SRHRG) and psychosocial counselling are designed to be more art and activity-centric at SSCOPE schools. These schools are designed by the Institute of Educational Development of BRAC University to address the high level of dropout at secondary schools.