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Excluded Peoples Rights (EPR) in Bangladesh

A three years project (2019-2021) “Excluded Peoples Rights in Bangladesh (EPR)” supported by Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF), the fund is originated from UKaid through Department for International Development (DFID).

Project Goal: The overall goal of the project is to contribute towards ensuring education and health rights of excluded children through strengthening community participation.

Outcome 1 : Enhanced efficiency and effectiveness in govt. primary school focusing on accessibility of marginalized and excluded children;
Outcome 2: Local duty bearers for primary health care and primary education are more accountable and responsive towards delivering quality education and health services;
Outcome 3 : The local community are engaged and play watchdog role to ensure accountable education and health system.

Major Problems to be addresses:
1). Teacher Absenteeism, high dropout rate, poor educational services;
2). Doctor and nurse absenteeism, shortage of equipment, poor access of excluded peoples and poor services in health centers
Background, Problem analysis and Rationales:
Currently the world is facing a serious learning crisis. A new World Bank dataset illustrates the bleak outlook: in developing countries. It is found that less than 50 percent of students are achieving proficiency in basic skills, compared to 86 percent in developed countries. Despite great gains in enrollment and an ambitious goal (SDG4), education quality worldwide is failing children, affecting their empowerment, employability, future earnings, health, and society’s overall growth potential. The recent World Development Report 2018 identifies three policy actions that can lead to real change: 1) assessing learning, to make it a serious goal; 2) acting on evidence, to make schools work for learners; and 3) aligning actors, to make the system work for learning. Approaches towards implementing these recommendations are both technical and systemic, as well as political in nature. The Global Education Monitoring Report (2017/18) also underlines that everyone has a role to play in improving education.

Government of Bangladesh has made remarkable progress in human development, poverty reduction and economic growth. GNI per capita has grown from around US$780 in 2010 to US$1,330 in 2016, (The World Bank, 20216) and thus allowed the country to cross the LDC to become a developing and lower middle-income country. The economy of Bangladesh has been predicted to have grown at 6.8% over 2016-17 period which was restricted over a decade at 6.0% on an average. Poverty has been reduced to 24.3% with increased income at all level. While striving towards attaining the EFA and MDGs, Bangladesh achieved significant in gaining gender parity and also in increasing enrolment up to 98% particularly in primary education. Primary education is the foundation of all learning. A large primary education sector is managed by Bangladesh government covering 126,615 formal and non-formal primary level educational institutions. Given the huge dependence of poor households on government services, primary education provision for all is highly subsidized and financed by the government as committed in the Article 17 of Bangladesh Constitution. Among different types of public and private primary institutions 50% are directly delivered and managed by the government (APSC 2016).

Bangladesh is committed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The government also believe that without reasonable improvement of health and education the other goals could not be achieved and even the achievement will not be sustainable. Government has recently approved 4th Health Sector Program (2017-2021) of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW), will put the country on track to attaining the targets by 2030. The Health, Population and Nutrition Sector Development Program (HPNSDP) played an important role in achieving better health indicators. Health policies and reforms in Bangladesh primarily aim at providing basic healthcare to all. It is to be recalled here that, health has been acknowledged as a right in the National Health Policy 2011. The policy aims to strengthen primary health and emergency care for all, and expand availability of client-centred, equity-focused and high-quality healthcare services. It advocates for equitable access to health outcomes care by gender, disability and poverty to achieve better health for all. In order to bring primary healthcare services to the doorsteps of people, 10,723 community clinics (CCs) at a ratio of one CC for every 6,000 populations were established during 1998-2001. In 2009, the CC initiatives were revitalized by the government. It has been reported that, at present there are 13,500 CCs in the rural areas, and another 4,500 CCs will be set up soon.

Despite these quantitative progress in health indicators, the quality of healthcare in both public and private health services is not satisfactory. Resource constraints, lack of professionalism, poor management and inadequate policy initiatives are the major reasons. Besides, several emerging issues are posing challenges in the health sector of Bangladesh. For example, the burden of non-communicable disease has been on the rise. There are inequities as regards accessing health services which is reflected through differential health outcomes for different groups of people based on their economic condition, geographical location and gender. This is evident in case of early childhood mortality, neonatal mortality, infant mortality, under-five mortality, vaccination coverage, child nutritional status and utilization of antenatal care by women (WHO, 2015; Rahman et al., 2017).

The poor are also exposed to a number of diseases caused by living conditions and lifestyles, and this is true for both rural and urban areas. Due to exposure to new infections, lack of access to safe and clean environments, and poor-quality healthcare, they are exposed to various health risks. Climate-induced health risks affect the poor most. Primary health coverage in urban areas, particularly among slums and street dwellers, remain a challenge. Doctor shortage and absenteeism is another challenges to provide quality health services.

Rational of the Proposed Project
Despite impressive development achievements, significant challenges still persist for the country. Inequality is visible as per BBS 2016 report showing some 10 per cent of the poor owns only one per cent of total income. Generally poor socio-economic situation impacts on education to certain extent and increases inequality. Wider inequalities in society also has adverse impact on the school system and partly determine patterns of education inequality. Particularly in primary education, dropout rate is 19.2 % (boys 22.3% and girls 16.1%) in 2016 while the repetition rate stands 6.1% (boys 6.4% and girls 5.8%) in all grades. Though the rate of students’ absenteeism is gradually declining, it is still 12.5 % where boys are 12.8% and girls 12.3%. Regular absenteeism leads those students to eventually drop out. 65.3% students facing physical punishment in schools and 64.3% guardians accepted the. Though Government declared the expansion of primary education up to grade viii from grade V, no concrete initiative has been taken to realize this gigantic task. As per the NSA data, student proficiency rate is less than 30%.

Decision making process is highly centralized in Ministry of Education and Ministry of Primary and Mass Education. It is also likely that poor governance has a disproportionate effect on the poor and is important in explaining levels of education inequality. Therefore, sector governance and government education policy in particular, are likely to have important consequences for educational access and quality. Lack of accountability and good governance in education are the most important factors behind failure in quality service delivery. For ensuring transparency, responsiveness and accountability in education, the key concern is to respond to the gap that exists between citizens and institutions. So, there is a need to simultaneously strengthen the accountability and responsiveness of educational institutions and policies through changes in institutional practice and a focus on the enabling structures for good governance. When accountability works, citizens especially the marginalized groups are able to claim demands on institutions and ensure that those demands are met. This can enable them to realize their rights, and gain access to resources and services.

Though the government has established number health centers both in rural and urban areas but the service is not adequate. Most of the cases the excluded peoples not access or limited access in the health centers and the health centers could not provide enough services due to shortage of doctors, medical equipment, shortages of medicine and rigorous doctor absenteeism.

Relevance of the project:
Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE) is an advocacy, research and campaign network promoting quality education, retention and completion of primary & secondary education cycle of both boys and girls. It has gradually grown into a well-known credible coalition of about 1000 education NGOs, researchers, education rights’ campaigners and teacher associations sharing similar vision and mission.

As part of promoting good governance in education, CAMPE has been closely working with teachers, SMC members, UP Standing Committee, local education officials, community people and focusing on effectiveness of SLIP, SAC, PTA etc. CAMPE has also experience on the use of social accountability tools i.e. citizens’ report card, community score card, citizen charter, social audit, interface meeting etc. through implementation of different initiatives. These tools helped to collect feedback of the parents on the quality of and access to services available in government primary schools. The journey has been satisfying and encouraging.

Currently with the adoption of SDGs particularly Goal 4 for education there is urgent need for CAMPE to continue its watchdog role and to undertake further interventions in order to achieve the goal through promoting transparency and accountability of relevant duty bearers. Hence, CAMPE feels the need for strengthening and expanding this initiative keeping in mind the experience and lesson learnt. CAMPE also experience to work with local government officials, local government bodies and local services provider authorities.

Organizational relevant experience and learning and they will be fed into the project
1. CAMPE has long experience to work on promoting voice and accountability for quality education through facilitating `Community Education Watch Groups’ at the local level. The Groups were formed to strengthen accountability mechanism and to promote `Enrolment, Retention and Completion’ of primary education with quality. During the last few years, CAMPE facilitated 32 CEWG in 32 unions of 8 districts. The initiative created a space for community engagement and raising voice for quality education and provided CAMPE with enough experience of working on issues like education governance, accountability and transparency of stakeholders. The CWG process address the excluded peoples considering sex, PWD, ethnic minority, people live in hard to reach areas and on board them in local development process through raising their voice demanding accountable governance.
2. CAMPE also has vast experience for addressing the excluded people rights since 1991. CAMPE has designed and implement number of projects on inclusive education focusing education of children with disability, education of ethnic minority children with their own language, education of hard to reach area’s children etc.
3. So, CAMPE will apply its proven result oriented approach “Community Watch Group” in EPR project, which will address the excluded peoples in project areas and ensure their rights and access in education and health system through promoting accountable governance.

Implementation strategies to be followed:
Strategy-1: The activities will be carried out in three level - a) grassroots level, b) subnational level and c) national level. CWG will carry out the the grassroots level activities, partner organizations will carry out the project activities and interaction at sub national level and CAMPE will take the issues at the national level and advocating with policy makers, relevant ministries, directorates, development partners.

Strategy-2: It will work through partnership with 2 selected partner organizations on the basis of their capacity, legal identity, previous experience and interest. Total 6,195 students and 45,971 excluded peoples will be reached through the project. Project locations have been selected based on criteria of poor literacy rate, poor socio-economic situation, ethnic minority centered areas and former enclaves.

Strategy-3: CWG will play a key role for community engagement process to accountable the duty bearer and generate data. CAMPE will use these data for national level advocacy to bring about policy changes and thereby establish voice and accountability. The PNGOs will be a bridging point for data transformation from grassroots to national and also disseminate at subnational level.

Sustainability plan and Exit Strategy
In first year, the project investment will be merely to CEWG group formation, their capacity building, relation development between CEWG and public institution and last year the CEWG will work indecently as a community institution. The project expects the awareness and capacity building of the local actors. In last year the project will give more emphasis on exit plan and prepare the community and local partner organization to run it independently with minimum cost managed by local resource. At national level CAMPE and MJF will jointly advocating to the government and development partners to replicate the methods to other government primary school through their government programs.

Exit Strategy:
CAMPE will transfer the knowledge, experience and expertise gained through the project to the local partners, CWG, government and other CSO groups for their future work. After the project, CAMPE will continue regular follow up through its partner organization and try to assist them for managing resource and their capacity building.

Project Duration: January 2019 to August 2022

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