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FW: EDUCATION-BANGLADESH: Impressive Progress Since Jomtien

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I believe this would be of interest to the debate. MD

> -----Original Message-----
> From: debra@oln.comlink.apc.org [mailto:debra@oln.comlink.apc.org] 
> Sent: 14 January 2000 15:41
> To: majadhun@giasdl01.vsnl.net.in
> Subject: EDUCATION-BANGLADESH: Impressive Progress Since Jomtien
> Edited/Distributed by HURINet - The Human Rights Information Network
> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
> Title: EDUCATION-BANGLADESH: Impressive Progress Since
> Jomtien
> By Tabibul Islam
> DHAKA, Jan 7 (IPS) - Non-governmental organisations (NGOs)
> have created schools with flexible hours, a relevant
> curriculum, motivated teachers, and community support to
> take non-formal education to the poorest of poor villager in
> Bangladesh.
> This South Asian country has some of the best known NGOs in
> the world, and their outstanding achievements in community
> development are widely acclaimed.
> Some 500 NGOs are actively involved in the non-formal
> education sector alone, running some 60,000 non-formal
> primary schools which have more than two million children on
> their rolls -- half of them girls.
> Among the big NGOs is BRAC or the Bangladesh Rural
> Advancement Committee which has since 1972 fought against
> malnutrition, illiteracy, disease, population growth, and
> unemployment in the villages of Bangladesh.
> It launched an education programme in 1985 with the
> objective of providing ''basic literacy and numeracy'' to
> children between eight and 10 years. Now over 70 percent of
> its students are girls, and the majority of teachers are
> women.
> BRAC's network of non-formal village schools reach out to
> more than one million students. Its schools have no more
> than 30 children each who must live within a radius of 2
> kms. The teachers are recruited from the local community,
> and paid an honorarium of the taka equivalent of 11 dollars
> every month.
> To be appointed a BRAC school teacher, candidates must have
> studied up to class nine. But in fact most BRAC teachers are
> graduates who are put through an intensive 16-day training
> course immediately after they join the school. Further they
> have to attend refresher courses at frequent intervals to
> improve their teaching skills.
> The school buildings are traditional structures, built with
> thatch. They are equipped with black-boards, charts, work
> books and other teaching material. Tuition is free for
> students who are given stationary and books by the school.
> A school day is only three hours, and six days a week. The
> timings are decided by the parents, who tailor-make the
> school calendar to suit the interest of the community. Most
> BRAC schools close in the harvest season when all hands are
> required on the land.
> At the insistence of local communities, BRAC introduced pre-
> school courses in its rural schools for the first time last
> year. Some 1,400 of its schools are able to enroll
> pre-school children.
> ''There has been a tremendous response from parents to the
> opening of a pre-school course,'' said Tajul Islam, director
> communications of BRAC. ''A nominal fee is charged.''
> Large NGOs in Bangladesh, which are akin to corporate
> houses, ascribe their phenomenal growth to the demand for
> their services from the people they work among, particularly
> rural women who are determined to improve their children's
> lives, if not their own.
> ''Today the presence of more girls in primary schools is
> perhaps the result of the awareness among rural women,''
> said an NGO executive who did not wish to be identified.
> The results are reflected in the gross enrollment in primary
> schools, both government and NGO run, which had increased to
> 95.58 percent in 1997 from 76 percent in 1991, as a result
> of the commitment made by Bangladesh to meet the 'Education
> for All' or EFA goal at Jomtien, Thailand in 1990.
> During the same period Bangladesh made impressive progress
> in narrowing the gender gap. The enrollment figure for boys
> was 97 percent and for girls, 94.11 percent, when the EFA
> target for 1997 was only 82 percent for boys and 79 percent
> for girls.
> ''Attainment of gender parity in primary education is a
> remarkable achievement of bangladesh,'' said James Jennings,
> chief of the education section of UNICEF in Bangladesh.
> ''There is, however, no room for complacency. Efforts must
> continue in bringing more girls and boys to schools.
> Education helps acquire skills and skills are an important
> factor for gainful employment and empowerment,'' he added.
> By the year 2000, the government was committed to raise the
> gross enrollment figure to 95 percent for both sexes and 94
> percent for girls -- a target it has already achieved,
> thanks mainly to the NGOs in non-formal education.
> ''Because of their flexible operation that match with pupils
> needs and availability and close link with the community,
> attendance is usually high and completion around 90
> percent,'' a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
> report concluded.
> Following on its Jomtien commitment, Bangladesh made primary
> education compulsory under law in 1990. In 1992, a new
> primary and mass education division was created under the
> direct charge of the prime minister.
> The special focus on education has raised literacy figures
> in the country, to 57 percent from 35 percent in 1991.
> ''Bangladesh is expected to achieve 85 to 86 percent
> literacy by 2002,'' Saadat Hussain, secretary, Primary and
> Mass Education Division has said.
> But the government has still not showcased its achievements
> in a country report, which should have been submitted to the
> upcoming Education for All meeting in Bangkok. The blame for
> this is put on the bureaucracy. Said an NGO observer, ''it
> unfortunately reflects a lack of commitment which is not
> so.'' (END/IPS/ti/an/00)

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