Eleven women have been awarded the certificates as professional drivers after successfully completing their training at the BRAC Driving School. These women are now confident in their hard-earned skills. They said this achievement has come through their indomitable spirit and the high-quality driving training programme run by BRAC, one of the largest development organisations in the world.
To award the certificates, an event was organised today (Wednesday, 26 July 2023), at BRTA Bhaban, the head office of Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA). The event was attended by A B M Amin Ullah Nuri, secretary of Road Transport and Highways Division, BRTA, as the chief guest. Ahmed Najmul Hussain, director of BRAC Road Safety Programme, chaired the event, with Nur Mohammad Mazumder, chairman of BRTA, and Md. Tazul Islam (additional secretary), chairman of Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC), attending as special guests. Mainul Hossain, manager of BRAC Road Safety Programme, gave an overview of BRAC’s programmes and activities on road safety.
The organisers stated that the 11 trainees attended a 3-month-long residential, extensive training programme conducted by BRAC Driving School in the capital. The school, equipped with the state-of-the-art driving training facilities, provided them with both theoretical and practical lessons. Additionally, they received basic communications skills training in English, as well as gender sensitisation and safeguarding training. After successfully completing the training, they participated in the licencing tests conducted by BRTA and successfully obtained their professional driver’s licences. Subsequently, they were assigned to BRAC’s transport division as apprentice drivers, where they will undergo further training for three months under the guidance of senior drivers.
A B M Amin Ullah Nuri, secretary of Road Transport and Highways Division, mentioned in his chief guest’s speech that although driving is a respectable profession, there is a prevailing culture of looking down upon it as a job. Consequently, driving does not attract many to take it up as their profession.
Regarding the employment of woman drivers, he informed the government reserves 10 per cent of its total driver positions for women. He also pointed out that there are buses for women commuters, but no women drivers or ‘helpers’. BRTC hires part-time drivers for its vehicles at the district level where the trained women drivers can join to gather experience.
Nur Mohammad Mazumder, chairman of BRTA, stated, "This is an important profession, but unfortunately, we have not been able to train enough drivers. We haven’t been able to make the driver’s job a respectable one. Moreover, many people are not even aware of BRAC’s initiative for driver’s training. If they knew, many employers might come forward with job offers for the graduates coming out of this school.
Tazul Islam (additional secretary), chairman of BRTC observed that there are family and societal barriers for women to become professional drivers. Often, families and society discourage women from joining professional driving. Last year, when BRTC advertised for 100 drivers, they could recruit at least 15 women, but only 1 female candidate applied. She got the job. This year as they are in the process of hiring 27 technicians, three female candidates have applied. As more women begin to join this profession, society's acceptance of female drivers will increase.
Ahmed Najmul Hussain, director, BRAC Road Safety Programme, stated in his chair’s remarks that as a standard, a person can qualify to become a driver with practical driving experience of 12 hours. However, our female drivers received about 100 hours of training and drove over 1,200 kilometres on the roads. All of them successfully passed the BRTA licence test on their first attempt and obtained their licences three months ago.
This training also included English language training and gender awareness lessons. These women are highly skilled drivers and should not be compared to other drivers, he further said.
Mousumi Khatun, one of the trained female drivers said, apart from driving skills, we have learned manners and etiquette and so many things, making us fully prepared for the job. Now, we are eager to find suitable employment opportunities.
BRAC Road Safety Programme has been operational since 2001 with the aim of increasing the safety of all road users. An important component of its activities is awareness-raising and training on safe road use. To date, BRAC has provided safe road users’ training to 1.2 million general road users, 561 thousand students, and 5,400 teachers across the country.
BRAC Driving School was established to produce skilled drivers with a focus on safe driving practices. So far, it has trained 11,535 people as commercial drivers, provided basic driving training to 8,147 individuals, and produced 2,698 trained women drivers. Additionally, It has trained 2,013 individuals in motorcycle driving and produced 384 driving trainers.