Educational Efforts of CIDA

Canadian International Development Agency or CIDA
Canadian International Development Agency or CIDA
Tamanna Kalim
Written by Tamanna Kalim

Bangladesh is one of the poorest and most densely populated countries on earth. Formed in 1971, the new country struggled to build a healthy economy in the face of major obstacles, including a weak education system, a high birth rate, vulnerability to natural disasters such as floods and cyclones, political instability, and corruption. Canada, through CIDA, has been a major development partner with Bangladesh since its independence in 1971. Early development efforts involved reconstruction and then moved into agriculture, management of water resources, and rural economic development.

Bangladesh has been identified as one of 25 development partner countries  a group of countries where the bulk of Canada’s bilateral (country to country) aid program will be focused. The approach for CIDA and other donor partners is increasingly program-oriented. Bangladesh was chosen based on its level of need, its ability to use aid dollars wisely, and Canada’s capacity to make a difference. Bangladesh has been one of Canada’s largest aid recipients for the last three decades. In 2004-2005, Canadian Official Development Assistance to Bangladesh totalled $95.63 million. CIDA’s Country Development Programming Framework 2003-2008 for Bangladesh, which is grounded in the priorities identified in Bangladesh’s Poverty Reduction Strategy, focuses on social development (health and education), governance, and private sector development.

From small beginnings in India and Kenya, ActionAid has grown into a worldwide organization working in 43 countries in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe. Together with over 2,000 partner Organizations, they have helped millions of individuals and families and thousands of communities to meet immediate needs and Claim basic rights. By influencing the way individuals, Governments and international institutions think and act, their advocacy and campaigning is helping to propel action against poverty and injustice. Nevertheless, ActionAid and CIDA face the unacceptable truth that poverty remains deeply entrenched across the globe. As the world Becomes wealthier, the gap between rich and poor communities And nations is not closing, but widening.

By the above mentioned the implications for these organizations are clear. If we are to fulfill their mission to eradicate poverty and injustice from the Face of the earth, we must respond to changing global realities, build on our successes and embrace change to improve ActionAid and CIDA’s Effectiveness and impact.

What is CIDA?

CIDA is a lead agency for development assistance of the Government of Canada. It is a federal agency charged with planning and implementing most of Canada’s development cooperation program in order to reduce poverty and to contribute to a more secure, equitable and prosperous world The Asia Branch of CIDA is committed to the Agency’s mandate of supporting sustainable development in developing countries. CIDA works in concert with its development partners, fragile states and countries in crisis, selected countries and regions, and the Canadian population and institutions. In Canada, CIDA’s headquarters is located in Gatineau, Québec. As well, regional offices are in place across the country to better engage partners, individuals, the private sector, and civil society. Its country office of Bangladesh is Dhaka.

CIDA has been assisting in different projects in more than 100 countries, which represent four fifths of the world’s population. CIDA works in partnership with developing countries, many kinds of Canadian organizations, international organizations and agencies.


Since the founding of the United Nations in October 1945, Canada has been supporting the development efforts of partner countries and organizations around the world. This was done via the department of External affairs, now known as the Foreign Affairs.

In 1959, the department of Trade and commerce set up an economic and technical assistance bureau to look after developing countries growing needs for international assistance. In 1960, through an order in council, under the public service rearrange and transfer duties act, the bureau’s functions were transferred to the department of external affairs to form a consolidated external aid office. Its creation was integral to Canada’s role in international development, since foreign aid was continuously growing. Finally, 1968, the Canadian international development agency was created by order in council, replacing the external aid office.


CIDA’s aim is to reduce poverty, promote human rights, and support sustainable development.


CIDA’s central priorities are poverty reduction, democratic governance, private sector development, health and basic education, equality between women and men, and environmental sustainability.


CIDA will seek to strengthen:
•    The role and capacity of civil society in developing countries in order to increase popular participation in decision making
•    Democratic institutions in order to develop and sustain responsible government
•    The competence of the public sector in order to promote the effective, honest and accountable exercise of power •    The capacity of organizations that protect and promote human rights in order to enhance each society’s ability to address right concerns and strengthen the security of the individual and
•    The will of leaders to respect rights, rule democratically and govern effectively.


•    Fewer projects, more programs: CIDA supports fewer stand-alone projects and increasing their support to entire programs of assistance. •    Untying aid: to enable CIDA to increase its development effectiveness and to participate in more programs based initiatives, more and more bilateral projects will be untied. This means that CIDA may open bidding to international or developing-country suppliers if its development objectives are best served by doing so. •    CIDA takes step to enable suppliers in least developed countries to complete for its business both directly and through partnerships with Canadian organizations. •    They uses international competitive bidding only in circumstances covered by the recommendation on untying official development assistance to the least developed countries established by the organization for economic cooperation and development assistance committee when Canadian  suppliers benefit from reciprocity with other committee donors or in special circumstances authorized by the minister.

Worldwide activities of CIDA

Regions and Countries

The global community has been collaborating to preserve the environment for more than 30 years, reaching agreements and achieving some progress in key areas such as carbon emissions, desertification, organic pollutants and biodiversity. As a party to the related conventions, Canada is obligated to help its developing country partners implement them. Regarding this CIDA provides the following sector development is currently under way:

•    Basic education
•    Capacity development
•    Child protection
•    Climate change
•    Gender equality
•    Health and nutrition
•    Humanitarian relief
•    Human rights, Democratization and Good Government
•    Millennium development goals
•    Peace building
•    Private sector development

Sub Saharan Africa : (47 countries)

Canada will strengthen aid effectiveness by focusing on five key areas of intervention that are highly relevant to the African environment and to reaching the Millennium Development Goals for Africa. The five keys are:

•    Basic education
•    Governance
•    Health (including HIV/AIDS prevention and control)
•    Private sector development, and
•    Environmental sustainability

North Africa and Middle East: (11 countries)

Canada’s activities in the region are aimed at-

•    bridging social and economic gaps,
•    improving governance,
•    strengthening democratic institutions,
•    ensuring human security.

America: (35 countries)

CIDA’s support to the region focuses on reducing poverty and inequity. CIDA is working with a wide variety of partners to:

•    strengthen governance, democratization, the rule of law, and human rights;
•    improve access to basic health care and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS;
•    achieve universal primary education by 2015;
•    create an enabling environment for private sector development;
•    promote environmental sustainability; and
•    increase equality between women and men.

Asia: (38 countries)

The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) helps Asian nations develop the capacity to address the continent’s most pressing challenges:

•    Quality Education
•    Reducing poverty;
•    Consolidating economic gains;
•    Strengthening governance and political inclusion;
•    Social development; and
•    The environment and Health

Eastern Europe: (24 countries)

CIDA’s programming in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) has a mandate to support the region’s countries in their transition to market economies and democracies. Today, the CEE programs administered by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) focus primarily on-

•    Good governance,
•    Democratic development, and
•    Economic well-being.

Particular emphasis is given to

•    Improving the accountability,
•    Transparency, and effectiveness of state institutions;
•    Supporting civil society; and
•    Creating a more favorable business and investment climate throughout the region

Activities in Bangladesh

Canada was one of the top four bilateral donors in Bangladesh in 2004. Through CIDA, Canada has worked with Bangladesh as a major development partner since 1971.Development-cooperation efforts following independence involved reconstruction and then moved into agriculture, management of water resources, and development of the rural economy. In 1999, CIDA reoriented its programming to its current focus on basic human needs and governance: the CDPF 2003–2008 focuses on social development (health and education), governance, and private sector development. CIDA provides major support to Bangladesh through multilateral organizations such as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, World Food Programme, UNICEF, and UN Population Fund for activities in health and nutrition, basic education, child protection, food aid, and income-generating activities. CIDA has also provided assistance through the Canada Climate Change Development Fund, which helped local communities to adapt to the effects of global warming. In addition, CIDA supports the initiatives of Canadian voluntary organizations and local NGOs in areas such as health, education, community development, and private sector development.

Highlights of CIDA’s past and current program in Bangladesh include

•    Assistance in water management, rural electrification, and agricultural diversification, which has contributed to Bangladesh’s transformation from chronic food shortages to near self-sufficiency in rice production;

•    Support to poverty reduction, which has allowed CIDA, as one of the first donors to support local NGOs, to help lift millions of poor women in rural areas out of poverty through provision of credit and training in entrepreneurship, leadership, and literacy;

•    Participation with the government in the multi donor health and population program, which has contributed to the reduction of the population growth rate and improved health indicators;

•    Participation with the largest Bangladeshi NGO, BRAC, in the multi donor, non-formal primary education program, which has brought more than one million rural children, half of them girls, into primary education; and

•    Participation with the government in the multi donor formal primary education program, which will improve the quality of education for 17.5 million students, boys and girls, at the primary level.

Canadian Development Cooperation PrioritiesBangladesh CDPFSample Projects
•    democratization,
•    human rights,
•    rule of law,
•    public sector institution building, conflict prevention,
•    peace building,
•    security sector reform
•    enhancing the effectiveness of public service delivery in key sectors,
•    notably health and education,
•    via multi-donor sector-wide approaches (SWAps),
•    developing capacity of selected public institutions and civil society in legal reform,
•    access to justice,
•    human rights education,
•    women’s rights,
•    children’s rights
•    All projects, including SWAPs/PBAs
•    Legal Reform
•    Fair Elections and Institutional Reform
•    Research and Policy Analysis – Bangladesh Bank
•    Policy Leadership and Advocacy for Gender Equality – Phase II
•    prevention and control
of high-burden,
•    communicable,
•    poverty-linked diseases,
•    strengthening capacity of health systems,
•    improving infant and child health,
•    strengthening sexual and reproductive health and reducing maternal mortality,
•    improving food security
•    developing the capacity of government and civil society to improve health and nutrition,
•    with a particular focus on women’s health,
•    reproductive health, and
•    child nutrition
•    Health and Population Sector Reform (SWAp)
•    Community-Based Managed Health Care
•    Institutional Support to the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh
•    Environmental Technology Verification – Arsenic
Basic education •    improving quality, safety, and relevance of basic education,
•    including life-skills training,
•    removing barriers that prevent closing the gender gap in education
•    providing education for prevention of HIV/AIDS,
•    providing education for girls and boys in conflict, post-conflict and/or emergency situations
Basic education
•    developing the capacity of government and civil society to increase enroll-ment and retention of girls and boys in primary education,
•    improve the quality of primary education
•    Education Sector Support Program (PBA)
•    BRAC Education Program (PBA)
•    Teaching Quality Improvement (PBA)
•    Basic Education for Working Children
Private sector development
•    creating an enabling environment, promoting entrepreneurship
•    supporting connection to markets
Private sector development
•    provide self-employment,
•    skills upgrading,
•    and access to finance and training opportunities for the rural and urban poor 
•    Palli Daridro Bimochon Foundation (Foundation for the Elimination of Rural Poverty)
•    Challenging the Frontiers of Poverty Reduction (BRAC)
•    Trade-Related Research and Policy Development (Centre for Policy Dialogue)
Environmental sustainability
•    reducing the impact of climate change, addressing land degrada-tion,
•    zassisting freshwater supply and sanitation,
•    addressing environmental impacts of urbanization, promoting global environmental agreements
Environmental sustainability
•    an important theme that is directly addressed (improved water management, mitigation of arsenic contamination of water supplies)
•    and is also fully integrated into all development activities
•    All projects
•    Reducing Vulnerability to Climate Change
Ensuring gender equality
•    in all of the above by ensuring more equal participation in decision-making, an enhanced ability of women and girls to fully realize their human rights,
•    and greater equality in access to and control over resources and benefits of development
Gender equality
•    an important theme that is directly addressed (improved health services for women,
•    strengthening of women’s service and advocacy organizations, life-skills training for young women) and
•    is also fully integrated into all development activities
•    All projects
•    Gender Fund

Educational Activities

Five things are worth emphasizing about the 40 years of Canadian activity in the field of educational aid:

•    CIDA’s education sector activities have been particularly vulnerable to rapid swings in emphasis and expenditure. •    Canadian aid for education has been characterized by a tendency to allow the supply side (for example, the availability of Canadian educational goods and services) to dictate the levels, content and mode of Canada’s assistance.

•    CIDA has had very limited experience of working in basic education.
•     It has little in house-expertise and has never actively cultivated the development of a Canadian base of expertise in this field.
•    CIDA supported NGO activities in basic education have been on the decline since the 1990s.

Content/Funding Modality
a) Primary Education Support Program (PEDP II)
a) 2003-2009a) $ 67.4 M•    CIDA is part of an 11- donor
consortium (led by ADB); use pooled
funding; total program funds amount
to $US 2.5 billion (this includes GoB
b) BRAC Non-Formal Primary Education (NFPE
b) 1999-2004b) $ 28.2 M•    NFPE III is complementary to the
GoB’s formal primary education
program, which CIDA also supports.
The purpose is to provide children in
rural areas not served by the
government education system with
access to education and improved curriculum and learning materials. CIDA’s contribution is pooled with other donors.
c) BRAC Education Program (for approved)c) 2004-2007c) $19.4 M•    Targeted budget support
Name of the Programme/projectDetailsDescriptionReview
Education Sector Support Project (ESSP)Project Number:BD/31503
Duration: 2003-2009
CIDA Contribution:
$67.4 million.
International Partners: Government of Bangladesh(GOB),
Asian development Bank (ADB),
World Bank, DFID,
European Commission (EC), the Netherlands,
•    The ESSP project has two components:
•    One will support the GOB’s Secondary Primary Education Development Program (PEDPП), a capacity building project with major education outcomes and a projected impact on every region of Bangladesh.
•    The second will support complementary sector reform. The project draws on both Bangladesh’s and Canada’s national and international policy commitments, and demonstrates CIDA’s   to strengthening aid effectiveness.
1) PEDPП is a $2.5 billion, multi donor initiative, led by the ADB, to assist the government of Bangladesh (GOB) in the achievement of the first stage of its National Plan of Action for Education For All, which in turn supports its commitments to the Millennium Development Goals.
2) The bilateral Complementary Sector Reform component will provide technical assistance to the Government of Bangladesh for complementary activities in the education sector.
3) Technical assistance will be coordinated by a Canadian Coordinating Agency
BRAC Education ProgrammeProject Number: BD/31865
Duration: 2005-2008
CIDA Contribution: $20 million (total project budget: US$133 million.
Bangladeshi Partners: BRAC (Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee).
In this project,
i.    BRAC will provide non-formal education to 1,300,000 children (60-65% girls) from poor areas of Bangladesh who dropped out of formal schools or have never attended any schools, including 50,000 children from ethnic minority groups and 50,000 children with disabilities.
ii.    BRAC will also enhance its collaboration with the formal education system at all levels.
1) This project’s purpose is to provide quality non-formal education to poor children of remote areas of Bangladesh, mostly girls (60-65%), including children from ethnic background and children with disabilities.
2) This project enhanced collaboration between BRAC and the formal education sector, country development programming Framework.

Achievement worldwide

Real progress has been made. CIDA obtains results in inter-national development by working jointly with its local, Canadian, and international partners. •    Worldwide, the number of people in developing countries living on less than $1 a day fell to 980 million in 2004—down from 1.25 billion in 1990. The proportion of people living in extreme poverty fell from nearly one third to 19 percent over this period. •    Progress has been made in getting more children into school in the developing world. Enrolment in primary education grew from 80 percent in 1991 to 88 percent in 2005. Most of this progress has taken place since 1999. •    Child mortality has declined globally, and it is becoming clear that the right lifesaving interventions are proving effective in reducing the number of deaths due to the main child killers, such as measles.

•    In addition, thanks to CIDA’s contribution, Ghana, a country of 22 million people, is well on the way to achieving the first MDG. •    In 1991–2006, this African country nearly halved its poverty rate (from 51.7 percent to 28.5 percent). The absolute number of the poor declined from 7.9 million in 1991–1992 to 6.2 million in 2005–2006.

•     In Tanzania, the net primary school enrolment rate rose from 59 percent in 2000 to 96 percent in 2006. One in two pupils is a girl.
•     In 2003, CIDA and UNICEF started up a three-year joint project that reduced infant mortality by 20 percent in 11 West African countries.

In Bangladesh

•    CIDA’s assistance in water management, rural electrification, and agricultural diversification has helped Bangladesh achieve near self-sufficiency in rice production.
•    Its support for poverty reduction has helped lift millions of poor rural women out of poverty.
•    As well, work within a multi-donor health and population program has contributed to reducing the population growth rate and improving health.
•     CIDA support to non-formal primary education has brought more than one million rural children, half of them girls, into primary education. •    Improved access to quality non-formal education programs and services for 1,300,000 children (60-65% girls) including 50,000 children from ethnic minority groups and 50,000 children with disabilities;
•    Improved quality of non-formal education programs and services utilized by the target groups;
•    Enhanced collaboration between BRAC and the formal education sector.

Future plan

CIDA’s program priorities for Bangladesh in 2003–2008—social development (health and education), governance, and private sector development—are closely aligned with the needs articulated in Bangladesh’s own PRS. They also line up squarely behind Canada’s international commitments, such as the MDGs for poverty reduction, improved health and education, environmental sustainability, and gender equality. Finally, they are fully in step with Canada’s foreign and development cooperation policies: these have identified the following as program priorities for CIDA: promoting good governance, improving health outcomes, strengthening basic education, supporting private sector development, and advancing environmental sustainability. Gender equality is a crosscutting theme that should shape approaches to programming in all priority sectors.

CIDA’s program priorities concentrate on the following:
•    Improving delivery of health services
•    Enhancing the quality of basic education
•    Strengthening governance
•    Supporting development of the private sector
•    Program delivery
•    Toward better donor coordination

Risk factors and limitations of CIDA

Sometimes political involvements delays in implementing these programs in different sectors. Again, long global economic crises reduce the trade and discourage private sector investors from other countries. The management and implementation capacity of public institutions are too weak to support extensive reforms in health and education. Domestic fund and international donations are not sufficient for education sectors. Specifically CIDA’s education programs are limited than other programs. CIDA have no educational or any kind of authorized institutions of their own, so they are dependent on local NGOs. We have to make sure about the maximum use of the foreign money especially in education sector that we get from different international donor organizations. These organizations should be free from all kinds of political involvement or bad politics, which have a negative impact in the implementations of their work as well as the government, should facilitate the NGOs in every possible way.

About the author

Tamanna Kalim

Tamanna Kalim

Tamanna Kalim is working in the developmental sector (Health and Education) for over 10 years in different multicultural settings, possess post-graduation both in Public Health (MPH) and Education (MEd). Her current position is Clinical Administrator in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Leave a Comment