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.
It is a weekday afternoon in Moulvibazar, Rangpur, and the melody of children chanting times tables is wafting through the trees. School is over, but students are gathered under shady trees in the village courtyards for another round of lessons.
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.
For young girls hailing from disadvantaged communities, activities such as competitive sports not only encourage them to discuss sensitive health issues but also empower them to take up leadership roles in their societies. For women, participating in team sports also enables a sense of unity that helps them be seen as champions within their communities.
Due to its geographical location, Bangladesh faces various types of slow and rapid onset of natural disasters. In the coming years, the country will have to bear the increasing brunt of climate change. While relief work is swiftly undertaken by many organisations, there is work to be done on the long-term social and psychological rehabilitation of the people, particularly children living in the affected regions.
We face tremendous problems keeping girls in school as they transition through adolescence. In Sierra Leone, 30 per cent of reported rapes take place in the school environment, and a recent ruling banned 'visibly pregnant' girls from school. When the school itself becomes a hostile setting, it should come as no surprise that dropout rates shoot up.
In the coming years, countries and communities will bear the brunt of climate change. Future projections of the rise in temperature and sea level along with increase in natural disasters are feared. However, we tend to forget that it is the future generation who will have to live through these consequences. It is widely asserted that the poor, in particular children, will be most affected – greater physical exposure to natural hazards and increased risks of health being two of the main reasons.
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.
Engaging in sports intrinsically makes you more mindful about your body. You may start speculating how to be healthier – a good entry point for inquiring about your general well-being. For adolescent girls in marginalised communities, these questions can lead to discussions about more sensitive topics, particularly sexual and reproductive health.
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.