Join in celebrating the 30 most productive collaborations 2020-1970 of women empowered sustainability generation goals 1 -5 and help log advances to 2025 Fazle Abed partners and 1billion girls mapped these 30 collaborations -six each for education , health, food/land, finance to end poverty, societal platforms for partners in 100% community (women as productive as men, young & old, colored & white
education opportunities 4.1 adult skills; 4.2 primary; 4.3 teen ; 4.4 university; 4.5 pre-school ;4.6 multidisciplinary education luminaries health opportunities
3.1 oral rehydration 3.2 para health "doordash" basic medicines 3.3 scale vaccination 3.4 tuberculosis 3.5 Frugal processes eg wash sanitation, maternity; 3.6 James Grant School of public health food/land opportunities
2.1 rice 2.2 veggie 2.3 cash crops & village fair2.4 poultry 2.5 dairy, 2.6 14 nation leading supply chains financial opportunities to end poverty
1.1 change aid (sustainable charity), microfinance+, 1.3 ultra poor, 1.4 city bank 1.5 bkash, 1.6 hq2 brac intl netherlands
platforms for 100% lives matter community (women as productive as men , all skin cols equal opportunity etc)
5.1 100k person metavillage; 1 billion asian women, brac net, 5.4 100 asian universities share sdg graduates 5.5 climate smart village exchanges, 5.6 zoom me up scotty: 2022: year 264 in search of moral market leadership

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

3.4 how did global fund asemble through 2000s to combat tb, aids and malaria

 Global Fund  3.4 end tuberculosis, aids, malaria

this summary comes mainly from briefings jim kim gave at youth summits and the first change the world mooc during the first 18 months of his appointment to world bank by obama in 2012

any errors are mine alone washington dc region MA Statistics DAMPT Csambridge

around 1987, 3 uniquely energetic graduates passionate about health service in world's poorest communities  came together in boston and formed - the only homegrown/youth=organised network which placed harvard medical students in poorest rural haiti and later nations like peru; two of these students graduated in anthropology and decided that franciscan values of servant leadership were what they wanted to apply; paul farmer had led explorations haiti the year after graduation with his friend wellesley graduate  ophelia dahl daughter of oxfords best selling author; jim kim was the other graduate studying anthropology of med at harvard the son of korean immigrants - life story at this world bank tedx

in boston the friends stayed with a franciscan monk originally from peru; jim kim in particular became energised abut ending tuberculosis there; 

by 2003 paul farmer had rightly become famous in books like mountains beyond mountains; 

jim kim was helping mobilise intellectually disruptive tactics including close the world bank- he connected  the most concerned stakeholders in poverty 3 worldwide health crises tb aids and malara and demanded a global fund which was perhaps the one thing that both clinton global and george busg agreed on by 2005; meanwhile kim discovered to his surprise that the worlds most effective end tb networks were brac's women in bangladesh he shared his knowledge with gates and soros who had asked farmer/kim would they help en tb in dissident russoa prisons if he soros funded that; so by 2005 the global fund was formally celebrated and while all of the above deserve congratulations it was abed-asian womens empowerment networks who had scaled the most effective tb models

you can see abed awarded gates global health prize ang both gates and soros viits tobangladesh villages 2005-6

its certainly true that each side gained from the collaboration - for example clintons and others helped: farmer build 2 world class teaching hospitals in haiti and rwands; jim kim was appointed to lead world bank in 2012; soros in helping launch brac usa 2007 talked of abed being just about the only ngo leader who scaled with the least, and all the digital wizards of banking for the poor including mpesa's nick hughes , bill gates, mit quadir/legatum, and abed to develop the world's most populous cashless bank for the poor -

but would this have happened without the energy of youth's most determined health workers and movements empowering billion asian women?- over to you to debate

4.6 5.6

 4.6 yidan monthly update august 

-major contributor to asian development bank 9th annual week long education skills summit; 4.4 4.1

yidan prizes 2021 to be announced end september; 

yidan supports brac early childhood 4.4 tanzania- see more brac africa 


 its only education connections in every skill imaginable and through real and virtual modes who can develop the first sustainability generation

our 1984 book on that was called the 2025report


From: Yidan Prize <>
To: Christopher Macrae <>
Sent: Wednesday, 30 June 2021, 05:04:31 GMT-4
Subject: Education is our most powerful force for change

If you’re having difficulty viewing this, please click here


Hello Christopher,

We have the key to a fairer and healthier future: education. That’s why the research we’re doing and conversations we’re having are opening the door to a better world.

Read our paper examining the evidence for the power of education

With the Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital, we’ve explored how learning shapes lives—and what that means for our global future.

The research tells us that education helps us live longer and more productively. It physically moulds our minds, changing our behaviour for the better. And we can now see that—although education is a long game—we can take immediate actions to make progress.

Read the full report

Listen to Anant Agarwal and Sal Khan talk online learning on Homeroom

Between them, edX and Khan Academy have brought powerful learning platforms to tens of millions of students around the world. Who better to ask about the future of online learning than their founders?

In 2018, we awarded Anant the Yidan Prize for Education Development. He was once Sal’s teacher—now they now sit together on our Council of Luminaries. On the podcast, they talked about AI and machine learning, transformation of jobs, and the impact of the pandemic.

Watch Homeroom with Sal here

And catch up on our European conference online

In partnership with the University of Oxford’s Department of Education, we asked: what is innovation in education?

If you missed the discussion—or you’re keen to revisit—you can now watch recordings of our sessions with special guests including our 2020 laureates Professor Carl Wieman, Ms Lucy Lake, and Ms Angeline Murimirwa.

Watch the sessions

Join us for more education technology insight at High Touch High Tech

Our Director of Partnerships, Dr Christopher Thomas, luminaries, Professor Eric Hanushek and Ms Wendy Kopp, and Yidan Prize judges, Dr Elizabeth King and Mr Andreas Schleicher, are attending the conference, which runs from 29 June to 2 July. This year’s theme focuses on AI, and the broader question of how we can combine classroom technology (high tech) with hands-on learning, guided by experts (high touch).

See the program and watch the livestream here

Tell us what you’d like to hear about

We’ll send this newsletter monthly, and we want to make sure you’re getting the most out of it. What are the main reasons you’re reading? Let us know here

Awarded annually, the Yidan Prize recognizes individuals, or teams of up to three members, who have contributed significantly to education research and development.

We aim to build a global knowledge network and solutions bank of inspiring education ideas.

WeChat ID: ydprize
You are receiving this email because you opted in to receive newsletters from the Yidan Prize.

Our mailing address is:
Yidan Prize Foundation
Level 18, 8 Wyndham Street
Hong Kong

5.6 beam me bottom-up scotty - turn leadership summits into communal/ transformational education

help blog 

can summits between 2021 and guterres 2023 summitfuture clarify sustainability purposes of trillion dollar markets (eg crops africa farmers produce) and make sure teachers/students of all ages understand these purposes so that youth can be the sustainability generation

-see for list of candidate summits for sdgs and this UNwomens article at linkedin suggests related sites include and journral of new economics for glasgow 2021 - egypt 2022 for geneva mountain top leaders in january and their new asian chmapions usually in the summer

Friday, June 25, 2021

3.3 vaccination nation

best news of month on covid - mastercard foundation billion $ plus grant to vaccination africa led by reeta roy - abed's uber-friend and tufts graduate- worst news of month bloomberg qatar economic summit's clearest lesson west's covif approach to africa appears to be maximising vavvination inequality   2

WHO Director General Ghebreyesus on Global Vaccinations

update june 2021 bloomberg and emir of qatar host first qatar economic summit - which nations are collaborating in vaccinations to end poverty 

women empowerment asia 50 year learning curves on sdgs - 2020-1970

integral to billion asian women ending extreme poverty was raising life expectancy to at least 60+

in spite of rural peoples having no access to electricity (no communications beyond person to person networking) 100% vaccination women empowered nations leapt forward in 70s/80 -and shared knowhow- leadership of this started with unicef dialogue year of child 1977 whose best responses came from fazle abed and china's barefoot medics- so much so that unicef's james grant partnered in worldwide sharing of what he learnt with these sources

over last 14 years since our first journeys to bangladesh we have written often with adam smith scholars that regarding

missing millennials jobs - last mile health care at least 100 million - more at and - queries wash dc/glasgow/dhaka/tokyo/hk/uae bureau

anyone influencing 2020s globally needs urgently collaborate now not just to go beyond covid but to mediate privacy & openness so ai health can leap forward for global public health- contact james grant school of public health part of bed university for more on 50 year learning curve of how last mile health entrepreneurs empowered billion poorest women to lead poverty's end but not yet climate's renewal

bloomberg uncovers how global pharma almost discarded mrna tech

Flagship Pioneering CEO on New Age of Nationalism

Bloomberg Live

under construction - more links soo

 historic cases abed bangladesh; 3.4-3.1 women empowered rural nation building and last mile health service networks- core or rural keynesianism with borlaug advances in rural food security

 connecting james grant unicef bangladesh and china; chen family harvard, bangladesh, china; larry brilliant - epidemiology-led liberal arts universities eg swarthmore; 

1880s founders purpose stanford; 

bard founding family support of nyu, columbia u medical school , bard college 

Thursday, June 24, 2021

4.4 what did abed mean by new university?


g4.4 new university as platform for generation ending extinction

debating how a new university could connect every innovation billion poorest women needed to rise as the 21st c came of age was as core to abed's future of microentrepreneurial revolution  as the village field labs had been for the first 25 years of bangladesh as a new nation; 

while abd insisted that anchoring partnership of brac women empowerment should always address what very poorest women needed next, he saw the 1996 platform of bracnet and opening brac uni 2001 as network application multipliers  for second and third generation youth (especially young women) of his villagers to  triangularise 3 components of nation building: ending poverty, expanding middle class, changing to green and sustainability in time. How could youth village ambassadors evolve as most locally trusted village data mapmakers in partnership with tech wizards who wanted the poorest to leapfrog. Each of the 5 deepest sdgs end poverty end famine  end ill health end jobless education end lifeless communities would need benchmark examples - see goal 1, early childhood play goal 4

5 years into asking what can nationwide internet "leapfrog" to poorest villagers innovation labs , multiple stakeholders needed to win-win from debating university as a third leg with both most trusted partners and those needed to continue to make brac  integral to number 1 partnerships in ngo/civic society world

firstly students if they were to connect youth as the first sdg generation

second totally different processes if staff were to support youth in every way that the sdg generation needs opposite to just being examined on past knowledge (a lot of whose broken systems are putting extinction on the line)

3rd as a lab public servants themselves could demand bangladesh become world innovation centre on- those interested  millennium goals were already calling bangladesh the open university of microcredit but why not of microagriculture, microhealth, mico-edu, micro 100% live matter community

4th if humans are to be sustainable the world will need the two thirds of humans who are asian to celebrate innovation contributions naturally opposite to the white empire world as well as connecting every dynamic of diverisity across hemisphere, from continental to island nation etc

5th we have seen bangladesh had built itself as the most collaborative place partner in transforming beyond the world of empire systems; its edge had been billion womens rural empowerment; while this needed to continue the nation also had more unique deep challenges; would it be the first nation to be washed away if the arctic circle melted? how would it survive as still the poorest of the 10th most populous nations; how could it help design trade to bring peace with direct neighbours and twin with youth anywhere who needed to humanise tech round the deepest and most urgent system challenges of humanity's 3rd and final chance of the machine age that had started up in glasgow 

1st chance glasgow 1760s

2nd chance birth of united nations - beyond world war 2 1945** see also footnoe the search for first 1000 herstians

3ed chance leap for and beyond covid, going green , valuing youth as every livesmatter communities greatest asset...

it may be useful to join the debate global investors call industrial revolution 4 with what asia's poorest see these chalenges to be where

ir0 - agricultural village with no machines is what brac partners over 50 years are deepest experts in- asnd which asia from 1945 prized borlaug as 0.1 revolution in village food security; deming ir1.1 ir2.1 innovations in machines as energy tools and communications tools; central toir3 and ir4 are the 12 greatest years ever contributed by a mathematician namely von neumann 1945-1957- not only did he tru to make nuclear safe, but his alumni define the most unique multipliers of ir3, ir4 ; 

ir4 within 4 years of von neumann death 2 labs facing pacific out of stanford and atlantic out of mit had been set up to map back the future from when machines take over from human governance wherever there is so much real time analusis and connecting of every app/gps community that only machines can do that real time; those who accepted gordon moores promise of 100 times moore teach every decade from 1960s which silicon valley became the first place both to study and commercialise have foreseen 2020s as the humanising ai decade

this leaves ir3 as every way livelihoods and education's human investment and monetary investment and nature's investment need to change if 7.5 billion to 10 billion people are to celebrate youth as first sdg generation

are these changes too big for human socirties to take on- fortunately if you search through abed conversations 2001-2019 you will see new university became his belief in the future of girls and both discussed with probably the majority of nations ambassadors as well as those who joined with brac as worlds largest female collaboration, largest goal 1-5 mapmaking. largest civil society partnership in futures and 2020s livelihoods to prevent extinction

of course the most exciting survey abed asked to be his legacy- why 100 vice chancellors did brac university alumni need the most alumni collaboration on with what; abed gave us some clues - for example which nations had both ended deepest poverty and continuously expanded their middle class eg singapore and korea were two simplest cases in his view; he also hypothesised huge population nations would probably need a clusters of new universities each different - concerned with maximum of sustaining 50 million lives different interactions with nature - where did 50 million come from? abed didn't say but if you look at his work since 1970 while it provided collaboration possibilities for empowering billion women to end extreme poverty- the bangladesh he helped start to nation build- the bra of brac was about 50 million rural livelihoods in 1972  when 90% of peoples were rural; about 100 million rural lives now 70% are rural; in 2050 - probably still 100 million rural lives when half of bangladesh people live in cities; one more way in which studying bangladesh as the open university of everyone bring both its most urgent priorities to innovating community sustainbility as well as benchmarks the worlds und30s need to mediate and celebrate


if you think about examining 7.5 billion people got to be where they are today is a fake goal however smart the lawyer/historian at harvard on oxford in the english speaking world or your choice of other head examiner of the culture/language you are brought up to apply

if as now seems stochastically likely our race is being directed to extinction, one of the missed opportunities was the first 17 years of the united nations general assembly failing to issue a corriculum uniting herstories and multicolored skins of the world wide

as a 11 year old scot in london in 1962, i can tell you how oxbridge examination board fixed 20th c history- basically it didnt exist as something to openly grow up with in schools; instead at posh schools you would start being taught latin at age 7 and told history starts around 55 bc with roman invasion of britain; i remember being disappointed that my last history lesson before being examined at 14 never got to the 20th century; only a lot later did i realise that its pretty hard for a nation to examine kids on your country was the root cause of 2 world wars and most national borders being in both unnatural and culturally conflicting places

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

4.6 nations prizing edu and health builds economies not vice versa

 june 2021 bloomberg/qatar - qatar innovated global edu laureates with fazle abed from 2011 -this upate zoomed wit hilary clinton and qatar fundation's ceo discuss women leadership contributions to 2021 humanity's last chance year (kerry et al davos agena jan 2021)

new university news linked to soros osun 4.4 africa open spciety uni

 osun home page is one view of the massive collab universities will need if  extinction is avoided

at we charter an older view - hopefully the two will come together so youth xcan defeat covid before 2030 as well as adapt climate

soros has also supported a young economics scholars network as antidote since 2009 peak of subprime madness - this july free summit on structural change in africa-keynotes include The conference opens with a keynote address from Prof Arkebe Oqubay (Senior Minister and Advisor to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia) and closes with a panel discussion between Prof Carlos Lopes (UCT), Dr Karima Bounemra Ben Soltane (UN-IDEP) and Prof Léonce Ndikumana (UMass Amherst).

 leading soros/osun linked new university in africa is ashesi also nominated by qatar global edu as  6th wise laureate and incubated as a masters project at berkeley by patrick awuah whose first career had been technologist at microsoft - ashesi is starting its second decade - the big picture - as african population doubles 20250-2020 what will african education look like if indeed there is a sustainability generation

this is a newsletter edited by beac u srudents

Bangladesh Rural Advancement - building nations/sustainability goal networks from bottom-up and openly empowered by women and family loving communities 

what is BRA-C &

BRAC can be connected with in many different ways:

worlds largest ngo Collaboration

built by hundreds of millions poorest village mothers over 50 years by alumni of fazle abed (who up to 1970 was an engineer and regional ceo of shell oil company); the deepest purose was to end poverty with the world's poorest women- when bangladesh was born in 1971- it was poorest nation, 8th most populoous (today over 150 million); a crisis tto be turned into an opportunity, 90% of its peoples were rural; and almost all rural women were expected to breed children- they had no productivity, livelihoods, little education

one way to think of brac is a field network of 100000 trainers of skills

over the last 12 years of abeds life, and 15 visits to bangladesh we found it useful to make notes on 36 interconnecting empowerent anf nation building"hunicorn"  networks over the 50 years; six for each of the 5 deepest goals: 100% livelihood inclusive communities 4 education for all ; 3 health for all; 2 human energy/food security for all; end poverty by everyone as well as 6 humnicors connecting all other goals including infrastructures

we have chosen 6 ways in to connecting brac to represent different stages of the 50 years abed linked everyone together; starting with building hmes for 100000 people metavilage in 1972- and paeting i20 dec 2019

historically vilages in asia mea no access to electricity grids or other modern infrastructures such as running water; from 1996 some global patners with villages brought experiments in boyth solar and mobile- this offered extreme opportunities to connect entreprenuriallyfor the first time; lets look at our 6 hunicors for goal 5 100% livesmatter communities; and goal 4 education; hopefully they illustrate the range of learning curves and so deep data networks you can choose to partner the world's number 1 ngo cooperation around

Tuesday, June 22, 2021


begun 1n 1984/5, brac's exponential acceleration of primary had built 30000 informal primary schools by 1995 -making brac the largest non-gov schools service - unlike gov schools which may have 5 teachers and classrooms, brac is one room one teacher (format partly resembling village montessori). this is a description from a 1998 paper:

BRAC : in 1995 there were 30,000 schools covering 900,000 students nationwide. BRAC schools are one-room classes of 30 students that give preferential enrollment to girls and to children from poor families. The teacher is usually a woman from the village with at least an eighth grade education who has completed an intensive teacher training course run by BRAC. The program’s policy is to maintain a 70–30 ratio of girls to boys among those enrolled. BRAC schools make an effort to enroll dropouts from the regular school system, and the curriculum developed by BRAC is intended to provide gender-sensitive, functional education

overall reference 4.2

in oct 2012 fazle abed made these contribution to a tweet Q&A hosted by UN- they reveal the sort of design brac primary schools serve

Tomorrow morning at 6 a.m. EST (10 a.m. GMT), BRAC will participate in a Tweetchathosted by the UNESCO Education for All Global Monitoring Report to support the launch of its 2012 edition.

The hashtag for the Tweetchat (and the theme of the 2012 report), #YouthSkillsWork, refers to the growing recognition that education systems around the world need to do a better job equipping the growing percentage of young people who will be entering the workforce in the next decade – the so-called “youth bulge.”
Vocational skills are important. But empathy is also increasingly seen as a skill that is crucial to a wider and wider array of jobs, including many that don’t exist yet. That’s why, for example, Ashoka Changemakers ran a competition this summer on best models for teaching empathy in schools, and Harvard Business Review Blogger James Allworth argued that empathy is the most valuable thing they teach at Harvard Business School.
The subject of empathy came up right away when we asked BRAC founder Sir Fazle Hasan Abed to name one educator that inspired him.
Here’s what Sir Fazle said:

“I would say my mother was my greatest teacher. She taught me the importance of even the poorest among us. More than anything, she taught me the value of empathy.”

“Mothers are always the best teachers. Any teacher has to teach with affection, to be affectionate like a mother. A child should feel like she’s been loved, and then the child learns because it’s coming from a loving person.”

Some of Sir Fazle’s comments may be surprising for some, coming from a man built the world’s largest development organization with a lifetime of hard work:

“My whole life, I did not have a disciplinarian. Neither my mother nor my father. Even my father, at 9pm, would say, ‘Go to bed, you don’t have to study anymore. You’ll do fine on the exam.’ I was actually taught not to work too hard!”

We asked if it’s better to be a tough teacher or a “soft” teacher. Sir Fazle replied:

“Being tough is not necessarily always good. Softer skills get the better out of children. Softer skills for me are always the more interesting approach, though I suppose there is always a role for a disciplinarian. Not too tough – but a disciplined teacher, because children do need to learn discipline.”

“Children should have their childhood – not just discipline, discipline, discipline, and study, study, study. My parents were all for me getting an enjoyable childhood.”

In these comments, you can start to see the origins of BRAC’s approach to education.BRAC started its primary education programmes in 1985, and from the beginning it adopted a different approach toward educating young minds. Rote learning was discouraged. Teachers were trained to teach in a more engaging and encouraging way, because school should be a place where children learn to think in their own.

Using this approach, we’ve already seen 10 million children pass though BRAC’s nonformal primary and pre-primary schools, the vast majority of them transitioning into government schools – where they perform better, on average, than their peers.

BRAC, of course, isn’t just about quality primary schooling, although it is the world’s largest private, secular education provider, with over 1 million students currently enrolled.Education continues into adolescence – and beyond the classroom.
For instance, our global network of adolescent girls’ clubs now has well over 270,000 members, with livelihood skills training combined with social empowerment – including life skills, conflict resolution and reproductive health for girls.
Skills training for adolescents is an important part of the puzzle, but the pathway out of poverty should start early. Primary schools in the developing world need to teach creative thinking, for those with an enterprising mindset, as Sir Fazle writes, are “more likely to spot and seize the opportunities their parents never had, giving them a chance to navigate their way out of the clutches of systemic poverty.”
We hope to hear from you tomorrow on Twitter at #YouthSkillsWork to discuss further.
For more, check out these links:


the 1998 paper offers context on how sustained efforts for women empowerment need to be when history has started from a completely opposite culture- noteworthy extracts

Changes in education policy such as the ones that have occurred in Bangladesh provide a unique opportunity to study factors that affect investments in children. They represent exogenous influences on a household’s decisionmaking about children’s schooling. Justification for the programs was based on the assessment that certain structural and familial factors act as barriers to schooling of children. The costs of schooling to families include direct costs for fees and books, as well as the more indirect costs of higher standards of nourishment and clothing that are perceived to be a necessary condition of attendance. Second, there are opportunity costs since children engage in various productive activities from an early age, and schooling 4 either translates into very long workdays for children or foregone income for the family (Amin 1996a). Under-investment in education may also be related to low expected returns from schooling: where school quality is poor, levels of learning are low and the prospects for improved earnings as a result of schooling are limited

The schooling of adolescent girls involves additional parental concerns. When schooling delays marriage, it may reduce the desirability of girls in the marriage market: while education is a valued attribute, so is young age at marriage for girls. Perceived risks are also associated with sexual safety. A girl whose sexual virtue has been compromised, in addition to suffering the psychological costs, also faces diminished prospects for marriage. Safety issues related to traveling to schools that are sometimes several kilometers away from the village is reported to be a significant factor in the decision not to send girls to secondary school. These costs generally outweigh the benefits of schooling, namely higher status, better opportunities for work in the formal sector, and better marriage prospects. Thus, in Bangladesh as in many other impoverished agrarian societies, the level of investment in children is the outcome of a complex decisionmaking process where parents’ ability and desire to invest in children are related to costs of education, opportunity cost of children’s time in school for the household, and expectations regarding returns to education. The social setting within the community and the macroeconomic environment also have a significant impact on the level of investment in and demand for schooling. In particular, the aggregate level of schooling in the community is likely to affect perceptions of costs of and returns to schooling. The presence of educated individuals offers direct evidence of what education can and can- 5 not buy in terms of opportunities and lifestyle. In most of rural Bangladesh, access to new employment opportunities, such as working for rural extension projects in agriculture, health, or credit, depends critically upon levels of education.

Female secondary school scholarship scheme. The government also initiated a scholarship scheme in 1994 for all girls enrolled in grades 6 and 9. This scheme was extended to girls in grades 7 and 8 starting in 1996. Entitlement to scholarships requires 65 percent school attendance and maintenance of a certain grade average in the previous year, but there are no criteria for economic exclusion. Schools receive a subsidy for each girl enrolled under this program, and the girls receive a monthly stipend deposited in their bank accounts. The stipend ranges from $1–2 depending on grade, and is of considerably lesser value than the wheat rations that children receive in primary school, which have a market value of $2–4. Parents of scholarship recipients are required to sign a bond guaranteeing that the girls will not be married before reaching 18 years of age. This program has been introduced throughout Bangladesh and thus it affects children of secondary school age in both study villages.

=============sept 2021 reprise

Bangladesh has seen a paradigm shift in the education sector. The year-wise dropout rate decreased from 47% to 19% between 2005-2017, and there are now more girls than boys in school. Dr Islam is one of the people who led these changes, and his legacy continues to inspire new generations of education leaders.

When BRAC began its journey in the newly-liberated Bangladesh, the food/population nexus was the most worrying issue in the country. Education took a back seat. There were several fundamental problems, with inadequate geographical reach of the formal education system being key amongst them. Many villages did not have a primary school near them, and parents did not feel safe letting their children travel for hours to and from a distant school.

Leaving no one behind 

BRAC supported the government’s efforts in education by bringing schools to every village, through over 40,000 informal ‘one-teacher one-room’ primary schools. The effort started, after meticulous research and piloting, with 22 schools in Bangladesh in 1985.

No one was left behind, through the schools, and a wide variety of other initiatives implemented to complement them. Mother-tongue based multilingual education opened opportunities for children in Indigenous communities to learn in their own languages. Adolescent development centres were safe spaces that provided access to leadership and life-skill based training, sports as well as performing arts. In secondary schools, teachers were trained, gifted students were turned into mentors for others and education was delivered through interactive digital content. Multi-purpose community learning centres, boat schools and mobile libraries increased access to learning and encouraged reading habits in the remotest regions.

BRAC University was established in 2001 as a crucial extension of BRAC’s work in education, where scholarships are offered in several categories, including academic merit, economic constraints, and students with disabilities.

Throughout all of these initiatives, a few threads were common – learning was joyful, lifelong learning was encouraged and all learning was value-driven, with the ultimate goal to build active citizens. 

Thirty years on, over 1,200 NGOs in Bangladesh have adopted the one-room school model, the Government of Bangladesh has adopted BRAC’s second chance at education model and BRAC schools have crossed geographical borders. Almost 15 million students have graduated from BRAC schools in Bangladesh, Africa and Asia.

BRAC already had the makings of a comprehensive education system when Dr Islam joined, but it was under his leadership that it expanded significantly. Once accessible only by the privileged, basic education became accessible for children from families with low incomes and families living in extreme poverty; as well as for children living in hard-to-reach and marginalised communities.

Read more: Educating a generation: Bangladesh’s barefoot teachers

Dr Islam received his PhD in Economics from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1985. He held a variety of positions at BRAC, including senior research economist. He joined the education programme in 1995, and became its director in 2004, a position he held until 2021

Dr Islam visiting a BRAC school in Bangladesh. © BRAC

Dr Islam always strived to make education an exciting experience for children. In his words, “Working for BRAC feels like you are connected to millions of children. A million children who have a dream to realise, and a million children who are enjoying their classrooms because they are full of fun”.

BRAC schools became a place where children were not compelled to study, but a place where they wanted to study. They became safe havens for children to leave the harsh realities of their struggles behind and just be children, where they could sing, dance, and paint.

Read more: Primary schools in Bangladesh to go digital, reaching 20 million students

Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, BRAC’s Founder, set the bar high

“Our generation’s biggest luck was to have gotten the chance to work with and learn from someone like Sir Fazle. To watch, observe, and feel for something from close proximity – is what we learnt from him.” – Dr Safiqul Islam

Dr Safiqul Islam and Sir Fazle Hasan Abed looking at the artwork of students at BRAC schools in Bangladesh. © BRAC

Dr Islam was deeply connected with Sir Fazle and worked to achieve his vision of a world where everyone has opportunities throughout their career. He learnt from Sir Fazle and transferred the knowledge to each generation of leadership.

In 2009, when BRAC had more than 1.8 million children in over 64,000 primary and pre-primary schools, Sir Fazle asked a question: “Okay, Safiq bhai, tell me what percentage of our students are children of BRAC staff?” I understood then was that the quality of education in our schools needs to be so good that our staff would enrol their children in them. ” said Dr Islam.

From new graduates to staff members who spent years working at BRAC, Dr Islam listened intently to everyone and valued their input. “The BRAC team is two very distinct generations. The young people are here, fresh out of university. And then there is the generation of people who have been with BRAC for quite a long time. So, it is an interesting space to exchange experiences and understand how the young generation think about the future of BRAC, how they really want to lead the country, and to learn from what has been learnt so far”, Dr Islam said.

Dr Islam participating in a class in a BRAC school in the Rohingya camps, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. © BRAC

Read more: Back to school again: Assessing what students missed during school closings for COVID-19

In March 2021, Safiq retired as the director of BRAC’s education programme. His legacy will continue to inspire BRAC to think differently, to show compassion to all and to dream big. BRAC is grateful for more than three decades of relentless service from Dr Islam.

Read Dr Safiqul Islam’s blog pieces on The Good Feed.


Fahad Bin Touhid is the Communications Portfolio Lead for BRAC Education Programme, and Miftahul Jannat Chowdhury is a Content Specialist at BRAC Communications.

BRAC started working in education in 1985. Its high quality, affordable, scalable schooling model has made it the world’s largest provider of private secular education. Its holistic approach to lifelong learning, addressing educational needs from early childhood to higher academic levels supported over 15 million students across five countries to graduate to date.