Educational efforts of ActionAid

Bangladesh Education Article
Bangladesh Education Article
Written by Editor
TAMANNA KALIM


ActionAid is an international development agency whose aim is to fight poverty and injustice. It was 34 years old and over that time had moved from being a British charity based on child sponsorship (mostly in Africa, India and Nepal), delivering specific service to individuals to becoming an international coalition fighting poverty across the globe. For over 34 years they have been growing and expanding to where they and today helping over 13 million of the world’s poorest and most disadvantaged people in 42 countries world wide. ActionAid helps the poorest and most vulnerable people fight for and gain their rights to food, shelter, work, education, health care and a voice in the decision the affect their lives. ActionAid works with local partners. Their partners range from small community support groups to national alliances and international networks seeking education for all, trade justice and action against HIV/AIDS their work with these nation all and international campaign networks highlights the issues that affect poor people and influences the way governments and international institutions think. They have a unique vision and direction. They do not impose solutions. But work with communities over many years to strengthen their own efforts to throw of poverty. They make the most of their skills and abilities by working at many levels-local, national, regional and international.

General Information about ActionAid
Name and domicile:    Stitching ActionAid International.
Formed:                   London (1972)
Registered Office:     The Hague (Netherlands).
Head Office:            Johannesburg (2004) London (1972)
Working Areas:        42 Countries


The foundation and the activities are governed by

•    The constitution of AAL.
•    The memorandum of understanding.
•    The governance Manual.
•    Affiliate and Associate agreements, licensing and grant agreements.
•    International strategy: Rights to End poverty.

Employed Staff: 1800 (90% of them from developing countries)
Started working in Bangladesh: In 1983, char Fession, Vola.
Head office in Bangladesh: Gulshan-1.


Vision
A world without poverty and injustice in which every person enjoys their right to a life with dignity.

Mission
To work with poor and excluded people to eradicate poverty and injustice.

Values
•    MUTUAL RESPECT requiring them to recognize the innate worth of people and the value of diversity.
•    EQUITY AND JUSTICE requiring them to work to ensure equal opportunity to everyone. Irrespective of race, age, gender, sexual orientation, HIV status, color, class, ethnicity, disability, location and religion
•    Honesty AND TRANSPARENCY being accountable at all levels for the effectiveness of their actions and open in their judgments and communications with other
•    SOLIDARITY WITH THE POOR powerless and excluded will be the only bias in their commitment to the fight against
•    COURAGE OF CONVICTION requiring them to be creative and radical, bold and innovative – without fear of failure – in pursuit of making the greatest possible impact on the causes of poverty
•    INDEPENDENCE from any religious or party-political affiliation
•    HUMILITY in their presentation and behavior, recognizing that they arc part of a wider alliance against poverty.

Objectives
•    To relieve poverty and distress throughout the world.
•    To educate the public concerning the causes, effects and means of alleviation of such poverty and distress.
•    Operate anti-poverty programmes in poorer countries.
•    Build public constituency and solidarity movements throughout the world.
•    Advocate, influence and campaign throughout the world.

Approaches
ActionAid follows a unique people-centered approach derived from decades of frontline experience, with four key elements:

Taking sides with poor and excluded people

They believe that poverty and injustice can be eradicated only when the world’s poor and excluded are able lo lake charge of their lives and claim their rights. They therefore work with a wide range of social groups and particularly locus on those suffering multiple violations of basic human rights.


Right based approaches

The locus of all their work is to ensure that the rights of poor and excluded people are respected. Promoted, protected and fulfilled. They also draw attention to the responsibility of UK state and other powerful institutions in regard to the rights of poor and excluded people.


Partnerships and alliances

They work in close partnerships and alliances with poor and excluded people, Citizens’ movements and like-minded civil society organizations. This helps them to maximize their contribution to eradicating poverty while complementing others’ efforts.


Acting locally and globally

The causes of poverty and injustice often reside outside areas where the worst symptoms arc found. They therefore act against poverty on all fronts, local to international. They derive legitimacy and authority to pursue their national and international advocacy work from their experience and relationship with, and from the support of, the people and communities they work with. They aim always to achieve coherence and connectedness between their actions at different levels of society. They emphasize on right-based program.


Worldwide activities of ActionAid
ActionAid works in four major regions of the world:
Asia: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia china, India, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Thailand and Vietnam.
Africa: Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameron, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea Conakry, Ethiopia, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somaliland, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
America: Brazil, Guatemala, Haiti, Dominican Republic, USA, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Peru.
Europe: Brussels, Greece, Ireland, Italy, UK, Spain and Sweden.
On Which ground ActionAid works
•    Greatest Poverty
•    Vulnerability
•    Insecurity
•    Physical isolation.
People they work with
•    Adolescents
•    Indigenous communities
•    Women subjected to violence
•    Landless groups
•    People with disability
•    Sex workers
•    Street children
•    Migrant workers
•    Trafficked women and children
•    Acid survivors
•    People infected and affected with HIV/AIDS
•    Professionally marginalized and disregarded people.

Activities

ActionAid focuses its efforts around six priority themes – human rights whose urgency is great and where their distinctive approach and experience can make the most difference. These priorities guide all their work – including research advocacy and campaigning – from local to international level.

Individual parts of the organization have flexibility to priorities actions within the guiding framework described below. Based on available resources and the needs and aspirations of poor and excluded people in each area where they work. All parts of the organization work on the main international campaigns which ActionAid is pursuing at anyone time.

•    Women’s rights

They place women and girls at the heart of all their work around the world. The work with women’s organizations to transform gender relations and the injustice of discrimination that women and girls living in poverty experience most cruelly.

•    The right to education

Over one- billion people, mostly women, hick a basic education and illiteracy and poverty are closely linked. Their work is driven by the belief that every child has the right to a free, quality education, which the state must provide.

•    The right to food

Hunger afflicts 800 million people. They believe its root cause lies in the denial of rights and in unequal control over natural resources such as land, water and seeds. They arc working to reverse this inequitable distribution of power and resources.

•    The right to human security in conflict and emergencies

Every year about 300 million people are affected by conflict or natural disasters. Eleven countries where they work are experiencing or emerging from violent conflict. They work to improve the security of people caught up in these situations so they can live free of fear and want.

•    The right to life and dignity in the face of HIV and AIDS

In 2004 nearly 40 million people were living with HIV and AIDS. Seven in ten were in Africa and six in ten were women. They use successful, innovative approaches in their work with people living with HIV and AIDS and place them al the centre of their programme, policy and campaign efforts.

•    The right to just and democratic governance

The theme of governance threads though their works, whether they are engaging with local communities of international institutions. They believe in governance that emphasizes citizen participation, enabling poor and exuded people to ask questions, Claim rights, make decisions and hold institutions to account.

Activities in Bangladesh
•    ActionAid Bangladesh (AAB) is one of the leading international NGOs working in the country with the objective of eradicating poverty and establishing a world in which every person can exercise their right to a life of dignity free from injustice.
•    ActionAid started its operations more than 20 years ago in Bangladesh in the remote island of Bhola, and today, it has evolved from its focus on a specific geographically remote area to an organization of national significance.
•    At present ActionAid Bangladesh works in 35 districts and has 89 local and community-based partner organizations with whom it works.
•    The strength of AAB is as an international organization with national accountability, though the unity with Action Aid International (which works in 40 countries globally) is always there with the common vision, mission and values.
•    From is inception in 1983 to the present times AAB has expanded greatly and though there has been a gradual shift from the regional to the thematic approach in its work, the core values remain unchanged.
•    At present AAB has 123 staff working in the Country Office and the Project office.
•    There are 10 ongoing projects with major donors and child sponsorship continues to be a major source of fund.
•    Action Aid Bangladesh (AAB) has evolved its development practice to increase its efficiency and effectiveness.
•    They work in different approaches, such as-
1.    Rights-based Approach
2.    Participation, Empowerment and Reflect
3.    Partnership
4.    Network and Alliances
5.    Research and Advocacy
6.    Innovation
Programmatic Sectors and Themes of ActionAid Bangladesh
ActionAid Bangladesh has divided its programmatic interventions into four broad sectors under which there are 12 thematic groups. The sectors are:

Livelihood Security and Risk Reduction:
The three themes in this sector are-
•    Promotion and strengthening of livelihoods,
•    protection from disasters,
•    access to and control over natural resources

Women’s Rights and Gender Equality:
In this sector AAB works to-
•    advance women’s rights for gender equality,
•    create an enabling culture to practice gender equality among youth and adolescents and
•    prevent violence against women.

Rights and Social Justice:
Themes in this sector are-
•    diversity and citizenship,
•    disability and enabling environment and
•    social inclusion for sex workers, trafficked women and children and people living with HIV/AIDS.

Social Development and Economic Justice: In this sector AAB tends to strengthen people’s movements for social development and economic justice through-

•    ensuring quality education,
•    economic justice and
•    quality health care for all.

Educational activities of AAB

ActionAid execute their educational activities through local NGO ‘S. They are trying to provide four types of educational activities in Bangladesh. The activities are-


Programmatic activities

•    NFPE and pre-school
•    Pre-School
•    Formal education
•    Learning center
•    Post Literacy and Continuing Education
•    Adolescent Forum
•    Child Recreation Centre
•    Education for the disabled and Adibashi children


Community related activities

•    Mothers gathering
•    Activating SMC and PTA
•    Parents Meeting
•    Meeting with community
Quality education and governance related activities
•    Workshop with SMC and teachers
•    Day observance
•    Learning materials support
•    Dialogue with UEO on Quality education
•    Organize cultural programme
•    Arrange study tour
•    Educational study/research
•    Forum and monitoring committee

Others
•    Adolescence family life education
•    School savings programme
•    Health education programme
•    Awareness programme
•    Hard to reach education programme
Programmatic Activities

NFPE and pre-school: Non Formal Primary Education is a system of schooling usually where children aged from 4 t0 7 years get chance to study. The schools have teaching provisions up to class III. Target groups of this program arc the children who arc cither dropouts from the mainstream education or have never been into the formal education. NFPE program provides basic primary education to the children in different classes. After completing NFPE program successfully, organizations assist the children to admit in government primary schools. Most of the NFPE programs also organized teachers training on effective teaching methods. Every NFPE has effective SMC and PTA consisting of 8/11 members both from the school management and community people. Organizations often arrange mothers’ gathering to make them aware about their children’s education. They arrange study tour, prize distribution, drawing competition, annual sports etc to encourage the children for better attendance in the schools and also observe special days under this program. Maximum partners follow BRACI DAM curriculum.


Pre-School: The organization has 6 month long pre-school courser that started in 2000. Children, 3-4 years old, from poor families can take admission to these schools. Here the children get some primary education like basic literacy. Besides, they can play, sing, dance, and participate in other social activities.

Formal education: Some organizations have undertaken formal education systems like mainstream high schools and colleges. These schools often appoint qualified teachers who arc well paid within the organizational procedure. The organizations also arrange teachers’ training to ensure better education outcome. They also monitor the activities in the schools on a regular basis and provide financial help if necessary. All these schools have active SMC and PTA consisting of 11 members. The school follows the government curriculum, rules and routines. Regular mother’s gathering also is arranged by (he organizations.

Learning center: In learning center, normally 4-11 year old children are admitted. This centre provides them some basic literacy and makes them prepared for admission in primary schools. This is normally one year program. After one year, organizations assist their pupils to enroll into government schools. Besides, studies children music, dance and play drama etc. here. In this learning centre children also observe national days.

Post Literacy and Continuing Education: This is usually a two-phased program. In the first phase students get 6 month long institutional education and in second phase they get vocational or technical education.

Adolescent Forum: Some organizations form adolescents’ forum and each forum consists of 10 to 20 adolescents. Normally adolescents’ forum arc made to serve the high school students. The adolescents arrange faceting in every three months. In meetings, they find out their problems and attempt to solve those. The adolescent forum meets with the SMC and school teachers about their problems and try to solve those- say latrine problem, drinking water problem etc. Special days arc observed under this forum. This forum does advocacy for low tuition fees or free education for the poor students. They also seek out the poor and meritorious students and assist them to continue their further study.


Child Recreation Centre: Normally children come hero and get sonic basic education, play games, learn dances, songs, paintings etc. Organizations aim to make (he children interested in education through involving them in recreational activities. The children come here usually for one and a half hour in the morning and far two hours in the afternoon. Some organizations observe special days under this centre. Some primary health care knowledge also provided here for the children.


Education for the disabled and Adibashi children: Some organizations operate some special programs for disabled and adibashi children. They also motivate the SMCs about the right of education of disabled and adibashi children. They arrange guardian and community meeting about education of disabled so the parents will send their children to the schools, and the community as a whole will act sympathetically and care for the disabled as a member of society. In integrated program, education for blind children is initiated with a total support approach. This program provides them transport facilities, dresses and other education materials (books, khata, pen, pencil etc.) and also scholarships.

Community Related Activities

Mother’s gathering: Partner organizations arranged mother’s gathering to raise their awareness about their children’s education as a human right that have the ability to contribute to participate gain both for the family and the society. In mothers gathering, UP members, PTA and SMC members, representatives from the community population and other social elite also attend. In mothers; gathering, everyone express their feelings regarding their children’s education. It makes fruitful interactive relationship among the teachers, guardian and other stakeholders of the society.

Activating SMC and PTA: There are SMC and PTA in each school. To activate these SMC and PTA, a meeting is held in every three months. These meetings are arranged to inform them about their duties and responsibilities. Through this meeting they activate the SMC and PTA committee. SMC member of the partners working areas can get idea about their roles and responsibilities. Through these meetings, the SMC, PTA and community people reach to a common understanding to participate actively for further development of the schools both in quality and infrastructure aspects. Sometimes they manage furniture for schools with the commitments made, in the meetings and also take .initiatives for classroom extension & building constructions.


Parents’ meeting: Normally parents’ meetings arc held in every month. These meetings are arranged to make, them   conscious   about their children’s   education.   They also   discuss   about teachers’ performance and external assistance for the schools. It makes interactive relationship between    the teachers and guardian and increases the parents’ participation in schooling activities.


Meeting with Community: Normally community meetings are arranged to make the community people aware about quality education. It is arranged once in every month. Through this arrangement, community people become aware and can express their concern on education. They become conscious of their rights to education and it important to participate in prevailing education system. They donated land for formal and non-formal schools. They net get chance to directly come in contact with government education officials and can learn about their roles and rights. Some schools initialed tree program on the schoolyard and in the village through community involvement.


Quality education and governance related activities

Workshop with SMC and teachers: Workshops arc arranged to share the ideas of the teachers and SMC members about quality education. Usually teachers and SMC members share their experiences, and they discuss about solving the problems that arise to maintain the school activities smoothly. Then they identify the resources of the schools. The workshops always give emphasis on collective effort to solve the existing problems of the schools.


Day observance: Organizations observe different national and international days (Literacy day, Child Rights day, Language day etc.) individually and jointly with the Government. They organize seminar, meeting, and rally on those occasions.


Learning materials support: Partner organizations sometimes provide materials like books, colour pencils, sports materials (Skipping rope, Football) etc. Some partners also collect government text books and distributes it to the poor and disadvantaged students.


Dialogue with Upazilla education officer on quality education: Organizations arranged meetings and workshops with Upazila Education Officer, school teachers, and community people. In these workshops they share their ideas about quality education. Teachers and community people get the chance to directly contact with government education officials and hear his/her opinions on quality education.


Organize cultural program: Some organizations arrange cultural program like drama, music, debate etc. They conducted this program on some different issues like child rights, trafficking, etc.


Arrange study lour: Normally organizations arranged study tour to -some historical places. Here some organizations arrange study tour in tin- quality schools. These tour are arranged for teachers. So, (hey can learn something from ‘A1 graded schools and can apply this in their schools.


Education Study/Research: Some organizations do research on resource analysis, catchments area situation analysis, comparative curriculum analysis, interview of the community people, school survey, case study etc.


Forum and monitoring committee: Some organizations have formed various forum, like cultural forum, teacher’s forum etc. The forums are working independently. The main work of the Monitoring committees’ is to prevent early marriage and other forms works for women and child rights.


Other Activities

AFLE: AFLE is an awareness-raising program. Organizations are working to make adolescents conversant about their rights, physical -and mental change, and health problems and for enhancing their creativity. They are conducting awareness education session for 9 to 19 years adolescents. They also formed adolescent groups to initiate appropriate measures beneficial for the adolescents. Organizations take special classes on adolescent family life education in Government high schools in three classes (eight, nine and ten) and they supply the related books.


School Savings Program: Some organizations have school savings program .In this program the children save money with the class teacher in small amount .There are some specific rules to deposit withdraw the money. Especially it has the aim to support the students for further education.


Health Education: Some organizations arrange special class in the primary schools with expert personnel to give students primary health care knowledge.


Awareness Program: Some organizations arrange awareness program on trafficking, birth registration, and child marriage issues in some selected high schools. This program is organized for class eight. The attendance ratio of male and female students is 50:50.


Hard to reach Education Program: This was also funded by DNFE; started in 1998 and phased out in 2002. The aim of this program was to give education to the poor and illiterate working children.

Achievements

•    AAB’s focus and energy was on working with poor people in the fight for their rights and justice. In 2006, they reached out to many poorer and excluded people and communities, and they particularly reached out to more women.
•    AAB stand shoulder to shoulder with poor women to end the cycle of violence inflicted against them, and to help them claim their rights to land, inheritance and livelihood, and encourage more girls into school.
•    Together with members of the women’s and feminist movement, they laid down the first steps in building a strong global alliance of women standing against HIV and AIDS.
•    Action Aid’s campaigning helped to persuade the Kenyan government to make antiretroviral treatment free at all public hospitals. Today, 44% of Kenyan people living with HIV and AIDS access these lifesaving drugs, compared to just 5% six years ago.

•    Their campaigning with partners and supporters has contributed to 40 million more children now in school than at the start of the decade.  
•    They will not stop until the remaining 70 million still being denied an education are in school, and receiving a quality education.  

•    But the big picture for poor people is still very bleak.  Chronic malnutrition is rising, conflict and political repression still undermines security, and poor people are denied their rights and justice day after day.


Future plan

This is an ambitious strategy, but given the massive scale of human suffering AAB witness daily, a relevant one. AAB believe they have what it takes to deliver: strong roots in the communities where they work; committed supporters and donors; dynamic, growing partnerships and alliances; supportive trustees and able and dedicated staff.

Rights to end poverty are about achieving change for the better. Change within ActionAid and change in the world around them. They are hopeful that, despite the scale of the challenge, the anti-poverty movement of which they are but one part will ultimately consign poverty and injustice to history.

They are optimistic that, guided by this strategy’s content, they will expand their impact and effectiveness in the world. They are grateful that, every day, their staff and partners need only look to the creativity, energy and resolution with which poor and excluded people fight to overcome poverty, to draw passion and inspiration for their own efforts.

Author: Material Developer, BRAC Education Programme, BRAC, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

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