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Mar 15, 2019

10 year challenge: BRAC's education evolution

Since its inception in 1972, BRAC’s mission has  been to empower the poor, especially women and girls, to achieve their full potential. One of the best ways to do this is through education.

The cornerstone of BRAC’s education program is continuous innovation. In 1985, BRAC developed a revolutionary primary education model: women from the local community were trained as teachers who would lead a classroom of 33 children through an accelerated primary curriculum, completing five years of material in just four.

Our schools have evolved over the past decade, bringing interactive digital learning to students around the world. In 2016, we partnered with the government of Bangladesh and Save the Children to digitize the national primary and secondary curriculums. Seventeen textbooks were transformed into interactive multimedia to create an innovative and engaging learning environment. This digital curriculum is now present in about 10,000 schools, with a target of 65,000 by 2021.

Over the past ten years, we have also expanded our education programs beyond Bangladesh to other countries in South Asia and in sub-Saharan Africa, adapting to each country’s unique context in the process. We continue to use our community-based approach that has been so effective in Bangladesh to reach underserved girls in the most remote areas of these countries.

In Uganda, we provide scholarships, academic support, and mentorship to academically gifted, financially disadvantaged secondary school students who otherwise would not be in school. The program addresses the youth bulge and high unemployment rates in Uganda, which disproportionately affect girls, by expanding access to the country’s top secondary schools and helping graduates secure scholarships to attend national and international universities.

In Liberia, BRAC is one of eight organizations chosen to participate in an innovative public-private partnership funded by the government of Liberia to improve its national education system. BRAC currently runs 33 schools, reaching about 7,600 students in pre-primary and primary grades. We are also helping to strengthen systems and build local capacity to improve learning outcomes.

Thanks to generous donors like you, BRAC continues to develop and implement innovative, contextualized education initiatives to provide a quality education to disadvantaged students, especially girls. We are  grateful for your continued support.

Feb 5, 2019

Turning on lights in Nepal

Photo: BRAC / Emily Coppel
Photo: BRAC / Emily Coppel

Nearly four years on from the 2015 earthquake, Nepalis across the country are still feeling its impacts—particularly girls.

In the wake of the disaster, many families were strained by financial pressure. Furthermore, instability led to a heightened risk of sexual violence. As a result, Nepal witnessed an uptake in child marriage following the earthquake, as some families married off their daughters in an effort to protect them and reduce their economic burden.

However, in many cases, early marriage has had the opposite effect on girls, leaving them further socially and economically marginalized.

Together, we are working to counteract this trend by creating opportunities for girls at risk of and affected by child marriage.

Through our girls’ empowerment clubs, Nepalese girls are learning about gender justice, sexual and reproductive health, life skills, and financial literacy.

And, through practical, livelihoods-based education, these girls are also gaining employable skills that provide pathways to sustainable livelihoods and reduce the economic pressure that often drives families to child marriage in the first place.

In a new partnership with Signify Foundation, girls in our empowerment clubs now have the opportunity to participate in training in lighting and electrical services, and eventually, graduate into sustainable livelihoods as lighting technicians.

Driven by the demand for quality lighting products and services in the communities surrounding Kathmandu and Kavre, the program provides income-generating opportunities for girls while also creating access to quality lighting services in rural, earthquake-affected communities.

This holistic approach supports both girls and their communities. Equipped with an income-generating skill, girls can invest in their own futures while providing a valuable service to their communities.

Currently, 20 girls are attending our first lighting technician training. We plan to train at least 100 girls as certified lighting and electrical technicians.

We are so grateful for your ongoing support. By empowering girls with sustainable livelihoods that increase their economic and social independence, we can help break the cycle of child marriage.

Photo: BRAC / Emily Coppel
Photo: BRAC / Emily Coppel

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Jan 31, 2019

Women and girls at center of Rohingya response

Photo: BRAC / Emily Coppel
Photo: BRAC / Emily Coppel

“We women, we give birth to life. Let us live ours in peace.”

The Rohingya refugee population is among the most vulnerable in the world. And, in the densely populated settlements of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh where over 900,000 Rohingya reside, women and girls are particularly vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence.

Many victims already cope with emotional trauma from the violence they faced prior to arriving at the settlements. Many also fear coming forward, in part due to the social stigma attached to sexual and gender-based violence.

In an effort to counteract that stigma, BRAC is taking a community-based approach to combating sexual and gender-based violence in Rohingya settlements.

Recently, we partnered with the United Nations and other local humanitarian organizations to advocate against gender-based violence. In our “16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence” campaign, Rohingya women, men, boys, and girls from across Cox’s Bazar came together to raise awareness of and call for an end to violence against women and girls. BRAC also engaged nearly 20,000 men and boys in sexual and gender-based violence trainings in order to raise awareness and stop the cycle.

In addition, we now operate eight women-friendly spaces and eight community centers in Cox’s Bazar. These centers provide a wide range of services, including psychosocial counseling; legal support; community education on topics like health, hygiene, and women’s rights; and training in skills such as literacy, tailoring, and handicrafts. Over 1,100 women have accessed psychosocial support in the spaces.

The women-friendly spaces, known as shanti khana or “places of peace,” also help establish a sense of community. They are a place to learn and heal.

“I come here to talk to the other women, and spend time with the young girls,” said Layla,* a 21-year-old Rohingya woman. Nearly 500 women like Layla attend the shanti khana daily.

Your donations ensure that our 2,600+ staff in Cox’s Bazar can continue to provide these critical services. Thank you for your support of women and girls.

Photo: Inter-Sector Coordination Group
Photo: Inter-Sector Coordination Group

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