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Nov 5, 2018

Big news for little learners!

Children attending the new Learning Center
Children attending the new Learning Center

Imagine your favorite teacher growing up. Did you feel valued in their class? Were they attentive to your needs? Did they make learning fun?

Unfortunately, many Rohingya children have never experienced a supportive, engaging learning environment like the one many of us had. In the crowded refugee settlements in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, less than one third of the more than 500,000 children are in school.

But that is changing in BRAC’s more than 500 Learning Centers and Child-Friendly Spaces.

For many Rohingya children, this is their first chance to be in a learning environment where teachers are attentive to their needs. For some, it is also their first opportunity to access education at all.

Now, after opening the first two-story Learning Center in Kutupalong camp, Cox’s Bazar last month, 240 more children will join the nearly 70,000 BRAC is already serving.

Standing 39 feet-high and constructed of bamboo and other sustainable, locally-sourced materials, the new Learning Center is a feat of architecture. Thoughtfully designed by architects from BRAC University, the building incorporates Rohingya architectural traditions and sits two feet above the ground to avoid flooding during the extreme weather patterns the region is prone to.

Similar to BRAC Learning Centers in other regions, the new two-story structure will offer basic primary education for children aged 4-14, with an emphasis on learning through structured, play-based activities. The curriculum focuses on basic math, science, and literacy in Burmese and English, as well as life skills, physical play, rhymes, and stories.

Each session in a BRAC Learning Center is jointly led by women from the Rohingya community and women from the Bangladeshi host community, who speak a dialect of Bengali similar to the Rohingya language. This model trains and empowers Rohingya women and promotes person-to-person peacebuilding between the communities, which is critical in addressing tensions that are arising over strained resources.

Learning Centers also provide holistic support for Rohingya children, incorporating child protection measures, linkages to health and nutrition services, and parenting sessions to engage families in their children’s educations. They offer comprehensive psychosocial support for children and families through group sessions and individual home visits conducted by over 230 barefoot counselors and 40 para-counselors.

Thanks to your generous support, tens of thousands of little learners in Cox’s Bazar now access our comprehensive education and protection services.

But still, nearly 350,000 children in the settlements lack access to education. We want to do more. That is why we have set an ambitious goal to reach at least 100,000 learners by 2019.

Donate or spread the word to help us make sure no child is left behind.

Thank you for ensuring that every Rohingya child has the chance to build a better future.

View from the second story of the Learning Center
View from the second story of the Learning Center

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Nov 5, 2018

Friendship and fun for girls in Nepal

Photo: BRAC/Natalia Atkins
Photo: BRAC/Natalia Atkins

There is nothing better than a friend who can always put a smile on your face.

Sunita and Kabina (above) are best friends — and not only are they making each other smile, but they are also spreading joy among all of their peers.

Sunita and Kabina are members of a BRAC girls empowerment or “Kishori” club in Kathmandu, Nepal, where they gather each day with twenty other adolescent girls in their community. At the daily meetings, which are led by young women from the community who act as mentors, the girls have a safe space to play, sing, dance, and laugh together.

They also engage in life skills and livelihoods education, incorporating crucial topics like sexual and reproductive health, decision-making, gender rights, financial education, entrepreneurship, and technical and vocational skills.

Each day, Sunita and Kabina look forward to Kishori club. Recently, British photographer Natalia Atkins visited their club, and she was touched by their infectious joy and enthusiasm.

“Sunita and Kabina are two very dear friends who undeniably share a close bond,” she said. “After informing me that they are best friends, they were keen to show me a coordinated dance routine — and they tore the house down!”

But the girls clubs are more than just a safe space for girls to gather and have fun.

Studies demonstrate that girls empowerment programs like this one also improve a variety of social empowerment outcomes for girls, including family planning, fertility, and safe sex, while also reducing rates of teen pregnancy and early marriage among participants. They can also lead to higher levels of employment and income.

Sunita and Kabina are just two of the more than 400 girls in Nepal who attend BRAC’s 20 girls empowerment clubs across the country.

The Kishori clubs are a crucial part of BRAC’s holistic approach to development in Nepal, where it also operates programs in health care, agriculture and livestock, disaster resilience, and skills training — empowering participants to build resilience, secure sustainable livelihoods, and lead healthy lives.

Your support makes a real difference in the lives of girls like Sunita and Kabina every day. Thank you for your dedication to empowering Nepali communities with resilience.

Photo: BRAC/Natalia Atkins
Photo: BRAC/Natalia Atkins

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Sep 20, 2018

Leadership opportunities for Ugandan girls

Secondary school student and her mother
Secondary school student and her mother

This summer, hundreds of Ugandan girls in BRAC’s Mastercard Foundation Scholars program spent their summer developing leadership skills through practical internships and participation in a leadership congress that drew students from across the country.

The Mastercard Foundation Scholars program, a partnership between BRAC and the Mastercard Foundation, identifies bright young students from low-income families who otherwise would not be able to attend secondary school and provides them with comprehensive support and mentorship. Now in its sixth year, the program currently reaches 1600 young Ugandans in over 100 secondary schools.

Scholars receive stipends for tuition, fees, learning materials, and study trips in addition to comprehensive support services such as academic tutoring, psychosocial support, mentorship, and leadership training. They also engage in extracurricular opportunities, including community service, leadership training, summer internships, and events with alumni of the program.

This year, through BRAC’s wide network of local partners, over 400 Scholars were connected with paid internships in Ugandan businesses and nonprofits in order to develop real-world leadership skills and gain practical experience in their fields of interest — an opportunity that most students in the region, particularly girls, do not have.

As summer came to an end, Scholars from across Uganda were invited to the 2018 Leadership Congress, an annual conference for Mastercard Foundation Scholars that draws local leaders from government, businesses, and civil society. Following the theme Empowering Leaders of Social Good, over 1600 Scholars had the opportunity to participate in interactive activities and workshops and learn from experts.

Scholars heard from Dr. John Muyingo, the Ugandan Minister of Higher Education, and a number of young Ugandan social entrepreneurs leading nonprofits, including Ethan Musolini of Success Africa; Esther Kalenzi of 40 Days Over 40 Smiles Foundation; and Brenda Katwesigye of Wazi Vision.

Girls who attended the Leadership Congress left inspired. “I learned you can use anything you have to impact the life of an individual,” said one Scholar. “You can use even your words to make a difference.”

Armed with practical experiences like the summer internship program and the annual Leadership Congress, more than four in five graduates of the Scholars program transition directly into universities, technical and vocational training, and other tertiary education programs. Others transition into full-time employment upon completion of the program.

Thanks to donors like you, the Scholars program has already reached over 5000 young students, with a particular focus on empowering underprivileged girls. We are so grateful for your continued support of education for girls around the world.

Girls in the Scholars program
Girls in the Scholars program

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