Expanding beyond the horizon
"We started Brac Schools when the country needed education and there was a very little scope for poor children to get educated.
We closed it down, as we feel that we need to focus on other issues," said Asif Saleh, executive director of Brac Bangladesh, at a press meet held at the capital's Brac Centre, marking its 50th founding anniversary yesterday.
Mentioning that Brac once ran around 64,000 schools across the country, Asif said they will conduct schools in only 35 backward districts, instead of all 64.
"We are shifting our focus from free education to affordable and quality education. We have started piloting the plan in Cumilla," he added.
Not only in the education programmes, but Brac also conducted programmes related to health, microfinance, social businesses and many arenas needed for the country.
He also said their immediate focus will be working on ultra poor, urban issues and mental health, among other issues.
Brac plans to expand their programmes of Brac International, said Irene Khan, chair of Brac International Supervisory Board.
Replying to a question, Tamara Hasan Abed, managing director of Brac Enterprises, said it's true that the foreign funds for NGOs in Bangladesh are reducing.
"On one hand, our social enterprises create direct employment opportunities for the poor communities, while on the other hand, we channel the surplus from these businesses to our social development programmes."
She briefed that around 25,000 farmers sell their dairy products through Brac. Around 11 lakh buy seeds from them, while around 6,000 people are involved with silk production.
"We could have collected their products for Aarong and reduced transport costs as well as prices. But we focused on the betterment of the rural people, especially women entrepreneurs," said Tamara.
Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman, chairperson, Brac Bangladesh Governing Body; Shameran Abed, executive director of Brac International; and Moutushi Kabir, director of Brac communications; were present, among others, at the programme.