Improving Early Childhood Development Through Collaboration and Research in Bangladesh

Country Liaison for Bangladesh, Mahmuda Akhter, discusses how the Bangladesh government and non-government organizations have collaborated to improve quality early childhood and development despite significant challenges in the education sector. As Executive Director of the Institute of Child and Human Development (ICHD), Mahmuda works to improve state early childhood development in Bangladesh.

Challenges to Improving Quality Education

There are many significant challenges facing Bangladesh’s education system, including a decreasing budget for education, limited education access for children with special needs and children living in rural areas, lack of trained and skilled teachers, corruption among administrators, and lack of community and parent involvement strategies.

Supporting the SDGs Through Collaboration

Bangladesh ECD Network (BEN) brought together about 200 key representatives from ministries, government organizations, non-government organizations, UN agencies, national and international organizations, ECD practitioners, and other experts for the national ECD conference. This year’s conference focused on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically SDG3-Ensure healthy lives and promoting the well-being for all at all ages; SDG4-Ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care, and preprimary education so that they are ready for primary education; and SDG17-Establish partnerships for sustainable development in ECD (Goal 17).

The Bangladesh government has also prioritized achieving the 2030 SDGs. Several committees have been formed based on specific goals. An action framework on SDG 4 which will be completed by October 2018, led by the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education and the Ministry of Education and jointly initiated by Bangladesh National UNESCO Commission (BNUC) and Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE) with Economic Relation Division (ERD) of the Ministry of Finance and the General Economic Division (GED) of the Ministry of Planning. This action framework development process will involve all stakeholders at national and local levels.

Making Strides to Improve ECD Through Research Projects   

The faculty of education at the University of Hong Kong has been conducting a research project titled “Assessing Early Childhood Development and Learning: The First Step to Building Human Capital in One Belt, One Road countries” using SDG 4.2.1 assessment tools. The aim of the research is to measure the holistic development and school readiness of 3-to 5-year-olds in four countries (Bangladesh, China, India, and Myanmar).The study has the potential to help the government plan its education policy.

The Asia-Pacific Regional Network for Early Childhood (ARNEC) has been conducting a research project, “Mapping for Asian Early Childhood Education Strategy Review.” The research involves eight countries, including Bangladesh. The Bangladesh part of the research was conducted by the Institute of Child and Human Development (ICHD). This study will assess the role of the private sector, strength of local partners, examples of innovative projects, involvement of regional/global actors, strength of local partners and networks, and priorities and activities of regional networks.

The Drowning Prevention Partnership Project, implemented by a global NGO called Synergos and funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, has been conducting a study in Bangladesh titled “Sustainability Analysis of Community-based Child Care Centres.” The purpose of this study is to learn from existing and emerging experiences to understand the range and types of community-based day care/crèche models for children under 5 in Bangladesh, and their sustainability potential. This study will also analyze advocacy efforts toward the scaling of effective and sustainable center-based solutions for under 5 child development and protection, including drowning prevention.

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Disclaimer: The information provided by the Country Liaison represents their perspective on education progress and challenges in their nation. It does not necessarily reflect the point of view of the Association for Childhood Education International staff and leadership.