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5 February 2023 - News

New name for education alliance, a new fight for quality and inclusion

The “Safe Back to School” campaign alliance, which was formed following the COVID-19 situation to bring back students to school, has started a new journey to ensure inclusive quality education for all in the country, under a new name- “Education Alliance Bangladesh-EAB”.
The declaration of this new name came out at the Education Summit 2023 on Wednesday (25 January) at Krishibid Institution Bangladesh at Farmgate, Dhaka.
The purpose of the Education Summit 2023 in Bangladesh is to foster discussion among a wider number of development actors, donors, academia, and civil society groups on the present situation of the education sector. The summit is a platform where policymakers and different actors through wider discussion take action and commit to ensuring ‘education for all’ in Bangladesh.

“Let’s Work Together to Ensure Inclusive Quality Education in Bangladesh”, is the new slogan of the alliance. During the opening ceremony, Onno van Manen, Country Director of Save the Children in Bangladesh said, “This alliance aims to continue working together so that we can reach a larger number of children who require our assistance. It is our responsibility to bring out the demand of needing more investment in education. We need to elevate the voices of the children through this platform.”
During the closing ceremony, Rasheda K Chowdhury, executive director of Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE), said, “There is no alternative of getting united.”

She urged for working together to strengthen efforts for the advancement of education. According to the way forward and declaration, the alliance will support the government to mitigate challenges related to quality and inclusive education. The alliance will work with the government for strengthening the education system by taking initiatives to popularise technical/vocational education and fostering partnerships among education actors for accelerating a joyful learning environment.
The closure of educational institutions from 17 March 2020 to 14 February 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic undoubtedly left some scrapes on the education system of the country. Long periods of school closure are required to initiate mass awareness campaigns as it has triggered children's dropout rate from schools in both urban and rural areas causing an increase in child labour and child marriage.

Against this backdrop, national and international NGOs working for the education sector in Bangladesh united themselves by echoing one voice under one umbrella named the “Safe Back to School” alliance.
A study presented at the summit focused on the challenges of equity and inclusion along with the national studies conducted from 2019 to 2022. It stated that the attendance three weeks after the school reopening shows that the lowest attendance was in class IV (65%) and the highest was in class I (86%). In secondary schools, the lowest attendance was in class IX (57%), and the highest was in class VI (69%). The primary reasons of drop out are being involved in economic activities, child marriage, migration of the family to other places, shifting to other educational institutes, especially Qawmi madrasah, and loss of interest in studies, etc.
According to the qualitative information, the students felt irritated, lonely, isolated, and mentally pressured during the lockdown. These problems have been reduced after the reopening of the schools.

However new issues have arisen, such as learning difficulties, difficulties in understanding lessons, and challenges in mingling with others.
Study findings also address the research question of recommendations for the national-level emergency research framework such as; education, health, and environment-based emergency studies. Moreover, the study also recommends for learning gap assessment mechanism and a recovery plan at the national level, as well as policy reform to education and livelihood with emphasis on emergency educational research.
The awareness campaign of SB2S Alliance, research study, and advocacy-related discussions with government officials and stakeholders underlined the need for long-term activities to ensure the scope for education for all children in Bangladesh.

The alliance members are BRAC, British Council Bangladesh, Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE), Dhaka Ahsania Mission (DAM), Educo Bangladesh, FIVDB, Friendship, Habitat for Humanity Bangladesh, Humanity & Inclusion (HI), Jagorani Chakra Foundation (JCF), Leonard Cheshire (LC), UK, Plan International Bangladesh, Room to Read, Save the Children, Sesame Workshop Bangladesh, Sight Savers Bangladesh, Stromme Foundation, Teach for Bangladesh, Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO), World Vision Bangladesh, and Young Power in Social Action (YPSA).