Education for Better Life for Rural Youth
Secondary education is a strategic need for human resource development in Bangladesh. It is the only means by which the emerging economy can reap the benefits of the green dividend; otherwise, a resource-poor country with a large youth population runs the risk of a tumultuous future. Yet, very little attention is being paid to secondary education. Both access and quality are central issues in secondary education in Bangladesh, but quality remains more neglected. Secondary education in the rural areas where 70 percent of the Bangladeshis live is riddled with graver problems from grossly inadequate infrastructure and facilities to poor learning and teaching to apathy to education in the community.
Volunteers Association for Bangladesh (VAB) is arguably the only NGO in Bangladesh solely devoted to the promotion and improvement of quality secondary education in rural Bangladesh since the late 1990s. Recognizing that empowerment of students, teachers, schools and communities is sine qua non for access and quality, VAB has developed and is implementing four interrelated sets of empowerment measures.
VAB celebrated its fifteen-year operation in Bangladesh
On Saturday, 21st January, 2015, the Volunteers Association for Bangladesh (VAB) celebrated its fifteen-year operation in Bangladesh. VAB is a Non-Resident Bangladeshi (NRB) organization in New York and its projects are funded by the NRBs and their American friends.
The function was presided over by Professor Professor Jamilur Reza Choudhury, Chairman of VAB Bangladesh and was attended by a large cross section of the civil society that included students, educationists, bankers, business man and industrialists.
The Minister of Finance, Mr. Abul Maal A Muhith, MP emphasized the need for public participation in providing better opportunities for learning in schools and lauded the NRB effort though VAB in this direction. He emphasized the need for the combination of knowledge and skill through education for the development of the country. He expressed satisfaction that VAB is an NGO with a difference, emphasizing the volunteering and philanthropy spirit in the community.
Dr. Atiur Rahman, Governor of Bangladesh Bank, in his speech emphasized the importance of quality education and urged business and banking institutions to contribute to education through their corporate social responsibility platform. He narrated the Bangladesh Bank initiative asking the financial sector to contribute at least 30% of its CSR fund for education. He lauded the VAB effort for focusing on the quality of education, emphasizing that lack of building infrastructure must not be treated as an impediment to quality education.
Earlier, Professor Dr. Jasimuz Zaman, the Country Director of VAB, welcomed the audience and narrated the VAB pilot scheme to work with 100 schools in 20 Upazilas with five schools in each Upazila. This will be a pilot scheme to demonstrate that self sustained improvement of quality is possible with small external interventions when all the stakeholders of the schools, the teachers, SMC members, parents and community members are empowered and engaged with a common goal. He made an ardent appeal to all those present to partner with VAB in this pursuit.
Dr. A. T. Rafiqur Rahman, the founder and President of VAB, outlined the thoughts and philosophy of VAB and Mr. Alim Khan, the Program Manager of VAB narrated the different areas of activity of VAB.
The function ended with a speech from Professor Jamilur Reza Chowdhury and vote of thanks by Principal Hamida Ali.
VAB over the last fifteen years offered 10,000 scholarships in eighty one schools and trained over 835 teachers in different subjects. It also funded for computers, science and vocational labs and library and promoted debating, cultural and sports programs.
A Milestone for permanence of VAB Footprint in Bangladesh
On January 9, 2015, Mrs. Saleha Rahman, a Platinum donor for the flat and wife of Dr. A. T. Rafiqur Rahman, the founder and President of the Volunteers Association for Bangladesh inaugurated the flat by unveiling the inscription on the wall.
On March 6, 2012, VAB signed an agreement with a builder at Dhaka, Articulation Developments Ltd to purchase a 2700 sq ft floor space at Adabor in the Mohammadpur area of Dhaka city at a cost of 1.56 crore taka.
With the untiring efforts of Dr. A. T. Rafiqur Rahman, VAB founder and president, the fund was raised primarily at New York. The opening event was attended by over sixty persons that included donors, donor representatives, patrons and well wishers of VAB. Professor Jasimuz Zaman, the Country Director, expressed his appreciation on behalf of all the volunteers, staff and the teachers and the students of the schools under VAB umbrella for the generosity, benevolence and their deep concern for the well being of the children of Bangladesh. The country Director referred to the Fact Sheet for VAB and explained briefly the VAB School Improvement Model that focuses on all round quality and sustainability. Dr. Rafiqur Rahman, Mrs. Saleha Rahman, Professor Jamilur Reza Choudhury and a number of dignitaries spoke on the occasion.
The names of the donors were displayed prominently on three different plaques on the walls in front of the flat.
The facility is divided into three sections: Office Area, Training/Seminar Area and Dorm Area. The office area provides for seating nine persons, a small library/meeting room and a store room. The Training/Seminar area can comfortably seat 20 trainees for a session. The dorm area has living facilities for four female and eight male trainees. It has a kitchen and a dining-and- lounge space.
VAB’s permanent home symbolizes both its successes and long term commitment to its mission and vision. VAB will now develop a plan of action to exploit the full potential of this space. VAB has successfully drawn in reputed professionals to explore alternative approaches to transform the training center with training activities to developing it as a center of excellence, a meeting place of the trainers and the trainees and a place for advanced application research on education.
VAB deepens its foundation in Bangladesh with its own Office
VAB-Bangladesh Office moved to a new 2700 sq. ft. Flat located at House # 806 (4th Floor), Road # 3, Baitul Aman Housing Society, Adabar, Dhaka-1207. The total estimated cost for the office including registration but excluding all furnishing and equipment may end up around $210,000. About 85% of the total fund came from 65 donors in the US with the remaining 15% from 23 donors from Bangladesh. Final accounting with exact amount of receipts and expenditures will be completed by the year-end for audit and submission to the NGO Bureau.
Almost 55% of the office space is used for organizing a Training Center with a separate training room and a seminar room, supported by residential and dining facilities twelve participants. The remaining 45% space is divided into rooms for directors, program managers, accountants, workstations for program officers, and space for library and conference, reception and store. Most of the rooms are sponsored at $10,000 each except for the Training and Seminar rooms, which went for $15,000 each. All sponsors except two are VAB directors.
Chevron Bangladesh supports VAB model with its first Grant
For the past few years Chevron Bangladesh has been carrying out education improvement and charitable programs in the areas where it has operational activities. Chevron Bangladesh acknowledged the role that the VAB model can assume in promoting and sustaining quality secondary education in areas of Bangladesh away from the urban centers. It signed an agreement with VAB-Bangladesh to conduct a 2-year Tk. 1 crore (equivalent to $130,000) education improvement project in 11 high schools, a college and a madrasah in Hobiganj and Moulvibazar districts of Sylhet. Under this agreement, the VAB model of empowerment activities for students, teachers, schools and rural communities are being executed since January this year.
Extraordinary Performances by VAB Schools and VAB Students in 2014 SSC Exam
VAB-assisted 53 rural high schools this year have scored a 93.47% pass rate in the SSC Examination. This is not only an outstanding rate, but also higher than the national average (91.34%) , as in the previous years. Moreover, 11 of the schools had a 100% pass rate – nearly twice the number of last year! These are indeed remarkable accomplishments considering that the national average is dominated by better-equipped urban schools, with better trained teachers, and more affluent students.
Out of 266 VAB scholarship recipients, 254 representing 95.49% passed the Exam with 81.96% receiving “A-” grade or higher.
VAB scholarship recipients and its sponsored schools have been increasingly performing better than the national average for the past few years, especially after the full range of VAB programs came into effect. Not only that the scholarship recipients have been succeeding over the years in the 93-98 percent range, their performance level has also increased with more students getting a grade of “A-” or higher. Congratulations to VAB’s students for their hard work and success, and congratulations to VAB schools for their improved quality of education and achievements.
Most VAB staff are volunteers. Fund raising costs are kept low through mailed in and online donations. Please consider making a donation today.