BRAC has inaugurated a Career Hub in Khulna, signifying a significant effort to connect job seekers with employers, thereby fostering an effective relationship between the two.
The launch event for the Career Hub, organised by BRAC's Skills Development Program (SDP) with support from KFW, took place at the Mohila Krira Complex in Khulna on Saturday, 24 February 2024.
Rashida Begum, Additional DIG, Khulna Metropolitan Police was present as Honourable Guest at the event. In addition, BRAC's Senior Director, People, Culture and Communications, Moutusi Kabir; Head of Secretariat, Climate Bridge Fund, Dr. Mohammad Golam Rabbani; Associate Director, BRAC Skills Development Programme, Tasmiah Tabassum Rahman; and Programme Manager Shahriar Islam was also present at the event.
Rashida Begum, Additional DIG, Khulna Metropolitan Police stated, "Job interviews often inquire about prior experience, yet even in the absence of such, opportunities for skills development are available through the career hub. This avenue subsequently aids job seekers in exploring a range of employment possibilities."
In her inaugural speech, Moutushi Kabir, BRAC's Senior Director, People, Culture and Communications, said, “Consider Career Hub as your ally in advancing your career, your reliable resource for addressing all career-related inquiries. Here, you'll find guidance on shaping a prosperous life post-education. BRAC Career Hub endeavours to establish connections with available job opportunities, cultivate essential skills for recruitment assessments, and bolster the confidence of aspiring job seekers.”
Tasmiah Tabassum Rahman, Associate Director, BRAC Skills Development Programme said, “There are three primary reasons why a student may fail to secure employment matching their qualifications upon completing their studies: inadequate job information, insufficient career guidance, and limited job opportunities. Career Hub aims to address these concerns by providing guidance and support to job seekers in navigating these challenges.
The main attraction of the second part of the opening ceremony was the mesmerising performance of Artcell.
According to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) 2022 data, the current unemployment rate in the country stands at 3.53 per cent. The labour force survey-2022 published by the BBS indicates that the rate of Bachelor's degree holders in the country has increased from 11.2 per cent in the fiscal year 2017 to 12 per cent in 2022. The survey also reveals that the number of unemployed graduates has nearly doubled in these five years, reaching around 400,000 in 2017.
An analysis of government data from the last few years shows that more than 2 million youth enter the workforce every year in the country with little or no practical knowledge and skills. A 2021 survey conducted by the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) states that 66 per cent of National University graduates are unemployed. Many jobseekers have never received career counselling or guidance, hindering their ability to develop skills according to employers' needs.
The situation is particularly challenging for women and persons with disabilities due to fewer opportunities to acquire expected skills, negative social attitudes, limited movement opportunities, and societal pressure.
In response to this scenario, employers are also seeking skilled manpower. Taking this into consideration, BRAC initiated this endeavour by establishing career hub centres in Rangpur and Sylhet in 2020. Subsequently, the fourth career hub was opened in Chattogram in 2023, and now in Khulna.
An online platform has also been launched to reach the youth more intensively. Plans are underway to open Career Hub centres in Cox's Bazar and Dhaka this year. This event in Khulna marks the launch of Career Hub services and related facilities for youth, employers, government partner institutions, and other relevant authorities.
Today (15 February 2024), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and BRAC launched the new Bangladesh America Maitree Project that will expand new funding and training opportunities directly to grassroots-level nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to implement development programs in the communities they serve.
USAID Mission Director Reed Aeschliman and BRAC Executive Director Asif Saleh jointly announced the Maitree Project alongside representatives from local NGOs around the country. The project will establish a competitive grant-making facility in which local NGOs can apply for grants to conduct projects in health, education, agriculture, climate resilience, or address other development needs in their communities.
Local organizations will also receive training to improve proposal writing, project design and operational capacity – while strengthening their ability to collaborate, build networks, and develop local solutions to tackle development challenges.
“Locally-led development is the cornerstone of USAID’s philosophy and we are excited to partner with BRAC to help smaller NGOs improve their development programs and foster a more vibrant civil society,” said USAID Mission Director Reed Aeschliman.
Md. Saidur Rahman, Director General (DG) of the NGO Affairs Bureau at the Prime Minister’s Office, welcomed the Bangladesh America Maitree Project and emphasized the importance of collaboration between the public and private sectors for the advancement of the country.
In his remark, BRAC Executive Director Asif Saleh said, “Localization is not an end in itself, but rather a means to an end. BRAC started as a relief organization but it grew bigger by continuously listening to the community. All its activities including microfinance, education, and health started as a response to community needs. Local level NGOs must devise their own solutions to address specific challenges instead of relying on donor-driven approaches. And that is why I am so excited about this Maitree Project, which aims to advance locally-led development.”
Local NGOs operating at the grassroots level have played a vital role in boosting Bangladesh's socio-economic development. As the country is eyeing graduation, local NGOs and civil society organizations can more easily adopt innovative program design methods, form partnerships with the private sector, and enhance their organizational strengths – enabling Bangladesh to witness a stronger civil society, significantly contributing to its path to becoming a middle-income country.
The Maitree Project will provide local NGOs with more resources for innovation and growth, and will actively transform the local partner ecosystem by promoting collaboration, coalition-building, and advocacy at various levels. The ultimate goal is to create a more resilient and dynamic civil society, benefiting Bangladesh's overall economic progress.
With support from USAID, the Bangladesh America Maitree Project is implemented by BRAC and aims to strengthen civil society in Bangladesh.
BRAC Academy, one of BRAC Education Programme’s flagship models, proudly announces the establishment of its second branch in Bogura (the first branch was launched in Cumilla in 2019), marking a significant milestone in its journey towards providing quality education to children across the nation.
The Academy, is a child-centred affordable school chain offering primary education in district towns. It offers modern teaching-learning methods, enriched content, and skills to ensure students are nurtured towards successful adulthood by sparking their learning curiosity and instilling in them excellent values, behaviours, respect and responsibility.
The Academy opened its door on 10 January 2024 and was officially launched by the Executive Director of BRAC, Asif Saleh, today, 7 February, in Bogura.
The launching took place amidst great enthusiasm and anticipation from the local community. 102 students, ranging from Play Group to Grade 3, were warmly welcomed into the school, symbolising the beginning of a promising academic year filled with opportunities for growth and success.
Safi Rahman Khan, Director of Education, Skills Development, and Migration at BRAC, opened the event with a welcoming message for all the parents and students.
The event was graced by the presence of esteemed guests, including Chief Guest, Additional District Commissioner (General), Mohammad-Al-Maruf; Special Guest Mayor, Md Rezaul Karim Badsha, and Special Guest Assistant District Primary Education Officer, Md Zaved Akhter.
Mohammad Al-Maruf expressed amazement at the innovative approach of the model school, highlighting its focus on playful learning and modern pedagogical methods, something he never experienced during his childhood. He further emphasised the strong awareness among parents in Bogura for quality education, evident from the academy's demand. Based on this, he urged BRAC to consider establishing a dedicated campus and expanding the school to cater to the growing needs.
Asif Saleh presided over the event, lauding the team's relentless efforts in making the academy a reality. He expressed his deep appreciation for their work, encompassing not just the meticulous design of the school premise but also the crucial groundwork in the curriculum. This involved extensive research, collaboration with international consultants, and thoughtful adaptation of global trends to create a cutting-edge educational programme.
BRAC Academy aims to empower young minds with the tools they need to become future leaders and changemakers. With its expansion to Bogura, BRAC is poised to make a lasting impact on the local community by providing quality education accessible to all.
For admissions and inquiries, interested individuals are encouraged to contact BRAC Academy at 8801332743374 or 8801716386286.
Caption for image above (left to right: Mona Dave, Consultant for BRAC International, Shameran Abed, Executive Director of BRAC International, Shweta Banerjee, Country Lead for India, BRAC International, Shri Charanjit Singh, Additional Secretary and CEO of NRLPS, Smt Smriti Sharan, Joint Secretary (RL-1) of DAY-NRLM, Raman Wadha, Director of DAY-NRLM, P. Usha Rani, IBCB SISD and HR, NRLM)
National Rural Livelihood Promotion Society (NRLPS), an autonomous body under the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) signed an MOU with BRAC International, a Global South-led organisation with a mission to empower people and communities. The MoU has been signed for inclusion of the poorest of the poor under Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM), a flagship programme under MoRD. The MoU was formalised by Additional Secretary and CEO of NRLPS, Shri Charanjit Singh and Country lead for India, BRAC International, Ms. Shweta S Banerjee in the presence of Joint Secretary (RL-1), DAY-NRLM, Smt Smriti Sharan, Director, DAY-NRLM, Mr. Raman Wadhwa and Executive Director, BRAC International Mr. Shameran Abed.
In his address, Shri Charanjit Singh remarked, “The DAY-NRLM mission has reached a stage where more than 100 million women members have been mobilised into community institutions.” He emphasised on the role of partnerships and leveraging BRAC’s global experience in reaching those furthest behind.
Smt Smriti Sharan conveyed, “this partnership is taking shape at a crucial juncture for DAY-NRLM, which has been steadfastly dedicated to universal and inclusive mobilisation. With 100 million rural poor households mobilised already, our focus now shifts to uplifting ‘lakhpati didis’ through Samaveshi Aajeevika, an inclusive livelihood programme, while also ensuring the inclusion of the most marginalised in the SHG movement.”
Mr. Shameran Abed extended his gratitude to both DAY-NRLM and BRAC India team for their dedication in recognising their respective strengths and coming to an agreement to sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). He expressed BRAC’s readiness to collaborate with the Ministry in facilitating Samaveshi Aajeevika with the government taking the lead.
Samaveshi Aajeevika aims to build self-confidence, social inclusion, and prosperity via inclusive livelihoods at the last mile. The programme will introduce holistic productive inclusion strategies to improve the lives of excluded populations. It will adapt a globally tested and proven “Graduation approach” to the DAY-NRLM programme to reach those households that are presently having difficulty benefiting from the SHG net.
Founded in Bangladesh in 1972, BRAC now works in 17 countries and has partnered with over 100 million people, delivering cost-effective, evidence-backed interventions. One such intervention is the globally recognised “Graduation approach” that has been taken up by private organisations and governments and evaluated extensively with positive results.
BRAC is pleased to announce that Divya Bajpai will be joining the organisation on March 2, 2024 as Executive Director for BRAC in Europe, responsible for the development of our partnerships with European-based partners.
This is a new role designed to lead BRAC’s ambitious plans to forge strategic partnerships in Europe to scale up innovative programming approaches in Africa and Asia, and to influence development and humanitarian policies in Europe, towards a shared goal of ending extreme poverty in the world.
Divya, who is currently Interim Executive Director at Frontline AIDS, said: “I am delighted to be joining BRAC at this exciting time as we embark on ambitious plans to broaden and scale up our partnerships across Europe. As the sector works out how best to realise our ambition of empowering our southern partners, I believe BRAC has a unique role and responsibility to help shape this transition.”
Ken Caldwell, Chair of Trustees at BRAC in UK, said: “I am delighted that we have been able to appoint Divya to this new role. She brings considerable experience of developing funding and advocacy partnerships across Europe and a real passion for bringing stronger southern voices to shaping international development policies and priorities.”
Executive Director of BRAC, Asif Saleh, also commented on the appointment. “We are aiming to strengthen and broaden our partnerships across Europe, in order to scale up innovative programmes in Asia and Africa focused on supporting families to escape from extreme poverty and to combat the consequences of climate change. We hope to bring the insights from this work to help key decision-makers in Europe to contribute to solving these key global challenges. I am looking forward to working closely with Divya as she leads our efforts to deliver this ambitious plan.”
In the fiscal year 2022-23, BRAC achieved recognition as the leading contributor to tax revenue. The National Board of Revenue (NBR) bestowed this honour on Wednesday, 20 December 2023. NBR Chairman, Abu Hena Md. Rahmatul Muneem presented the accolade to BRAC's Executive Director, Asif Saleh, during the National Tax Card and Best Taxpayer Awards ceremony held at the Bangabandhu International Conference Center. Tushar Bhowmik, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Ashit Baran Das, Associate Director, BRAC, were present.
A total of 141 individuals and organisations received tax cards from the NBR as a tribute to their outstanding contributions as the best taxpayers.
Today (Wednesday, 20 December 2023) is the 4th death anniversary of Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, the visionary leader and founder of BRAC, the largest NGO of the world, who passed away on this day in 2019. Sir Fazle Hasan Abed died at the age of 83, while undergoing treatment at a hospital in Dhaka. He established BRAC in 1972, after coming back from London, as a small relief and rehabilitation effort in a remote area of Sylhet.
Subsequently, as part of its enduring development strategy, BRAC initiated an extensive outreach to marginalised segments of society through diverse development initiatives. BRAC has devised a comprehensive development strategy aimed at empowering the underprivileged, encompassing initiatives in areas such as healthcare; education; microfinance; skills development; agriculture; and food security; cottage industries; human rights; road safety; migration; and urban development.
Born in 1936, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed studied accountancy in London, qualifying as a cost management accountant in 1962. While he was working as a senior corporate executive at Pakistan Shell Oil, the 1970 cyclone and 1971 Liberation War in Bangladesh dramatically changed the direction of his life.
After the onset of the War of Liberation, he resigned from his position and moved to London. There, he played a pivotal role in launching "Action Bangladesh" and "HELP Bangladesh", offering support for the Liberation War.
In 1972, after the war was over, he returned to the newly-independent Bangladesh, finding the economy in ruins. The return of 10 million refugees, who were sheltered in India during the war, called for urgent relief and rehabilitation.
Sir Fazle Hasan Abed then founded BRAC to address the needs of the refugees, guided by a desire to help people living in poverty develop their own capacity to better manage their lives. BRAC transformed itself to one of the largest and most effective NGOs in the world by conducting successful socio-economic programmes in many sectors over the last 50 years. BRAC now provides multifaceted services to over 100 million people in 11 countries of Asia and Africa, assisting them in bringing lasting changes to their lives.
Awards and Recognition
For his outstanding contributions to empowering people living in poverty and inequality, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed had been honoured with numerous national and international awards including the Yidan Prize for Education Development (2019), Dutch Royal Knighthood (2019), LEGO Prize (2018), Laudato Si' Award (2017), Jose Edgardo Campos Collaborative Leadership Award, South Asia Region (2016), Thomas Francis, Jr. Medal in Global Public Health (2016), World Food Prize (2015), Trust Women Hero Award (2014), Spanish Order of Civil Merit (2014), Leo Tolstoy International Gold Medal (2014), CEU Open Society Prize (2013), Inaugural WISE Prize for Education (2011), Entrepreneur for the World Award (2009), David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award (2008), Inaugural Clinton Global Citizen Award (2007), Henry R. Kravis Prize in Leadership (2007), Palli Karma Shahayak Foundation (PKSF) Award for lifetime achievement in social development and poverty alleviation (2007), UNDP Mahbubul Haq Award for Outstanding Contribution to Human Development (2004), Gates Award for Global Health (2004), Gleitsman Foundation International Activist Award (2003), Schwab Foundation’s Social Entrepreneurship Award (2003), Olof Palme Prize (2001), InterAction Humanitarian Award (1998) and Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership (1980).
He is also recognised by Ashoka as one of the 'global greats' and is a founding member of its prestigious Global Academy for Social Entrepreneurship. In 2009, he was appointed Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George by the British Crown in recognition of his services to reducing poverty in Bangladesh and internationally. Sir Fazle was a member of the Group of Eminent Persons appointed by the UN Secretary-General in 2010 to advise on support for the Least Developed Countries. In both 2014 and 2017, he was named in Fortune Magazine’s List of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders.
The many honorary degrees received by Sir Fazle Hasan Abed include those from Princeton University (2014), the University of Oxford (2009), Columbia University (2008) and Yale University (2007).
80% subsequently finding employment with 62% of trained girls avoiding early marriage.
BRAC has extended its successful non-formal apprenticeship model, Ustad-Sagred, to provide training and employment opportunities to 1,500 disadvantaged youth in rural areas. The 'Resilience, Entrepreneurship and Livelihood (RALI)' project by the Social Development Foundation (SDF) under the Ministry of Finance has endorsed the 'Ustad-Sagred' model and collaborates with BRAC to provide the training.
The introduction of BRAC's non-formal apprenticeship model, Ustad-Sagred, is aimed at fostering employment opportunities by enhancing the skill development of young men and women who have discontinued formal education. Since its inception in 2012, the 'Ustad-Sagared' model has effectively contributed to youth employment by elevating their skills through hands-on and practical training methodologies.
The official launch event, titled 'Technical and Vocational Education and Training' (TVET) apprenticeship or Ustad-Sagred Project, took place on Thursday, 7 December 2023, at the BRAC Centre in Mohakhali, in the capital. The event was jointly organised by BRAC and SDF and attended by high-officials, including SDF Chairperson Md. Abdus Samad and Managing Director Dr. Amitabh Sarker.
Tasmiah Tabassum Rahman, Associate Director of BRAC's Skill Development Programme and Dr. Amitabh Sarker delivered the opening speeches, emphasising the significance of practical training in boosting the employability of young individuals who have discontinued formal education. Rezaul Mazid, the project manager of BRAC’s Skills Development Programme (SDP), concluded the event, while Dr. Zafar Ahmed Khan, senior policy advisor of BRAC, also addressed the attendees, expressing optimism about the project's success and its potential for future expansion.
BRAC and SDF officials expressed their collective aspirations for the continued success of the Ustad-Sagred model and anticipate its expansion, significantly contributing to skill development and employment generation for the youth in Bangladesh.
The Ustad-Sagred model, initiated in 2012 under the 'Skill Training for Advancing Resources (STAR)' programme, focuses on imparting hands-on training to individuals aged 14 to 22 who have left the formal education system. The programme has been notably effective compared to conventional training systems, leading to increased employment opportunities for the youth.
Under the STAR programme, currently active in 52 districts across the country, over 120,000 individuals have received training, with a remarkable 80% subsequently finding employment. Notably, 60% of the trainees are women, and 10% are individuals with physical challenges. The programme has also played a pivotal role in preventing child marriages, with 62% of trained girls avoiding early marriage.
Moreover, the Ustad-Sagred model has successfully trained over 45,000 Ustads (instructors) who actively contribute to various small businesses. This symbiotic relationship between instructors and trainees has fostered learning in practical skills, workplace beautification, and gender awareness, turning the Ustads into proficient trainers.
Local organisations from Global South are calling for increased funding for locally-led adaptation to enhance and maximise impacts at the local level.
This demand was voiced by speakers representing various local organisations from the Global South at the COP28 Official Side Event hosted by BRAC, titled, ‘Financing Locally-Led Adaptation – Translating Global Ambition into Local Impact’. The event took place on Tuesday, 5 December, 2023, at Side Event Room 2 of COP28 venue in Dubai. Representatives from the international donor community were also present at the programme.
Watch the recording of the session:
Special Envoy to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh for Climate Change Saber Hossain Chowdhury MP, stated, "For us, knowledge to adapt to the climate crisis is not the latest chip from Silicon Valley; it is what communities have known for years. We must leverage that before we reach the bounds of resilience."
Climate Action Network - South Asia’s Director, Sanjay Vashist said, "Investments and carbon bonds are for the market; climate grants are for the people. If we really want money to reach the people, it must be in the form of grants and not loans or investments."
Climate Bridge Fund Secretariate Head, Dr Golam Rabbani said, "Countries like Bangladesh are receiving only 3% of the funding they need to adapt. But what about the other 97%? They are the ones with whom the Climate Bridge Fund is working."
FCDO’s Adaptation and Resilience Head, Peter Bentley said, “If donors are trying to manage risks to the extent that they are not dispersing climate finance, it doesn’t help the donors. We don’t want to see that because we also want climate finance to reach the ground.”
Renae Baptist, First Secretary, Permanent Mission of Geneva to the UN Saqib Huq, Managing Director, ICCCAD; Subir Kumar Saha, Coordinator, Gana Unnayan Kendra; and Zoya Shabir Siddiqui, Development and Partnerships Manager, Acumen, participated at the event. The event was moderated by Isabel Whisson, Head, Policy Initiatives, BRAC.
The primary objective of the event is to initiate a constructive dialogue with the global donor community on improving the delivery of funding, thereby, imroving climate resilience at the local level. The event also aims to share practical insights and suggestions from Bangladesh with other climate-risk countries, both from the North and the South, on how to effectively enable locally-led adaptation within their own contexts.
The premises of the Krishibid Institution echoed with the energetic strides of more than 300 youths from across the country who gathered to participate in the Youth Festival on 26 November 2023. Organised by the Right Here Right Now (RHRN2) project of BRAC's Social Empowerment and Legal Protection (SELP) Programme, the purpose of the event was to engage bright young minds in conversations on child marriage, gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and gender equality.
BRAC’s Senior Director for People, Culture, and Communications, Moutushi Kabir expressed her thoughts in the inauguration session by saying, "In the educational or social environment in which we grow up, we are not informed about the right to question, especially when it comes to sexual or reproductive matters. Any young man and woman has questions. However, socially, these questions are often suppressed or deemed inappropriate. Perhaps, it is implied that discussing such matters is a thing of shame and should be discussed. She added, "It is nice to observe your open-mindedness in posing questions here. By questioning your rights, you contribute to the potential for change. Without such questioning, how can progress occur? How can an equitable world be established?"
First Secretary - Human Rights, Humanitarian Affairs and Gender of Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Jan Swillens also shared insights into the significance of the event. He expressed that youth and adolescents can utilise social media as a powerful tool to bring about social change and ensure gender justice. He further emphasised, "The contemporary world extends beyond national borders; we are, in fact, global citizens. This means that our ideas and initiatives have the potential to instigate change not only within our country but on a global scale.
Md. Masudur Rahman, National Coordinator, RHRN Bangladesh Coalition, stated, "We have provided direct leadership development training to almost 1,000 young individuals. Additionally, we have collaborated with 25,000 students across various secondary and higher secondary schools, offering training to enhance their awareness of gender equality and address issues related to sexual harassment.
The day-long programme featured a thought-provoking panel discussion titled ‘Implementing Comprehensive Sexuality Education in Bangladesh - Challenges and Way Forward’. Representatives from government, Non-Governmental Organisations, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) experts, and a youth volunteer actively participated. Additionally, a participatory session on 'Understanding Gender, Feminism, and Countering Backlashes' was facilitated by Nazia Zebin, Executive Director, Oboyob, and Shashwatee Biplob, Programme Head and In-Charge of Social Empowerment and Legal Protection (SELP) Programme at BRAC.
One of the panelists, Mazharul Huq Masud, Assistant Director of Training-1 at the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education (DHSE), stated that the effective implementation of the new curriculum will only be possible through collaborative efforts from students, parents, teachers, community members, and especially civil society organisations working towards the sustainable education and reproductive health of the future generation.
In the afternoon, the theme of gender equality and feminism was creatively highlighted through fascinating artwork by the renowned artist and social media influencer Morshed Mishu.
The programme concluded with a closing remark by Dr. Tasnim Azim, President, Naripokkho.
The cultural programme, presented by the youth member of RHRN, Lalmonirhat, and a captivating performance by musician Minar, added an entertaining touch to the festival.
The RHRN project, a multi-country coalition led by BRAC in Bangladesh, is funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and executed by Rutgers. In its second phase (RHRN2), spanning from 2021 to 2025, the project operates in 10 countries worldwide, including Bangladesh. Coalition members of this projects in Bangladesh include Nagorik Uddyog, Naripokkho, Oboyob, Wreetu, and Youth Policy Forum (YPF), with BRAC as the lead. RHRN seeks to amplify the voices of young people and strengthen the agency of girls, young women, young people in all their diversities, including those who are gender-diverse, and other groups living in vulnerable situations.