Bangladesh government to strengthen partnership with BARMM through BRAC

Bangladesh Envoy to the Philippines F.M. Borhan Uddin strikes a pose with learners at the Timbaluan Learning Center in Talayan, Maguindanao del Sur during his visit on Thursday (January 12, 2023). MindaNews photo by FERDINANDH CABRERA

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 13 January) – Bangladesh envoy to the Philippines F.M. Borhan Uddin has vowed to strengthen partnership with the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) not only in education but also in governance and other sectors.

Ambassador Uddin made the assurance as he ended his 3-day visit Thursday in the autonomous region that was highlighted by a series of meetings and courtesies with BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim, Speaker of the Parliament and other regional officials.

The Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC-Philippines) hosted the envoy’s visit to BARMM.

“The bilateral relationships between the Philippines and Bangladesh are improving and my visit here is to know how we can improve and expand the programs,” Uddin said.

The envoy shared that his country celebrated its golden jubilee of independence last year and since then it has been consistently making development in many sectors, especially in some economic sectors.

“At the moment we have been making good in education, health and social sectors,” he said.

“We have a wonderful garment industry, this is the second largest in the world just like China, we are doing good in pharmaceuticals, we have been exporting medicine to about 160 countries all over the world including Philippines,” he told BARMM officials.

Uddin said his government is a willing partner in governance development in the Bangsamoro region.

During his stay, the envoy was joined by officials from the Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE-BARMM) and BRAC in class observation and community interaction at the Timbaluan Learning Center, a collaboration project on resilient community learning facility in Talayan, Maguindanao del Sur.

It is under the “Abot Kaalaman sa Pamilyang Bangsamoro” (AKAP) Project of MBHTE implemented by BRAC Philippines and the Consortium of Bangsamoro and Civil Society (CBCS), and funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade/Australian Aid through its Pathways Program to Peace and Education in Mindanao. 

The project is covering areas that have no schools and currently in operation in 106 barangays in the BARMM. One of them is the Timbaluan Learning Center.

Isa Bai Adao Mal, a learning facilitator for kindergarten, said if not for the BRAC program, they would have shouldered with their meager income the materials needed by the children.

She added this will result in an expected higher turnout of children from the community who will finish the early stage of education.

“BRAC has provided us a lot, they provided us with school supplies for the children, the learning facilities and materials. It brings a huge impact to our teaching performance in our day to day duties,” Mal said.

BRAC mainly provides coaching and mentoring to the MBHTE’s regional and division technical working groups, catchment schools, and the learning facilitators or the community teachers in Kinder, Grade 1 and Grade 2 in the AKAP centers. 

These educators were provided with basic teachers training, refresher training, and materials development training that cater to their K-3 teaching needs.

BRAC also announced it had been providing teaching and learning materials to the learning facilities and to the learners.

Jo Villanueva, BRAC Philippines executive director, said BRAC intervention in BARMM education has gone a level higher with the education frontliners already adopted by the BRAC program.

“The learning center, the model that we brought into the BARMM was actually a model of what we did in Bangladesh. Initially we carried out the program but we have already handed it over to MBHTE,” Villanueva said.

Bangladesh Envoy to the Philippines F.M. Borhan Uddin with BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim during his visit in Cotabato City on Thursday (January 12, 2023). MindaNews photo by FERDINANDH CABRERA

“We have already shifted our roles, we provide technical assistance to coaching training the learning facilitators and community,” she said.

Uddin visited the BRAC learning center in Talayan.

Villanueva said BRAC will coordinate with various BARMM ministries for “our early child development program.”

She said BRAC is also considering working with the BARMM Ministry of Social Services on emergency response and preparedness for the project in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao del Sur and Bubong in Lanao del Sur.

“BRAC is working with barangay and municipal local governments as well as schools because we want to strengthen the capacity of schools to respond to disasters,” she said.

BRAC Philippines has offices in Cotabato, Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga and Iligan and in Manila.

BRAC began its operations in the Philippines in 2012 focusing on empowering marginalized people and helping them conquer extreme poverty, through its education programme, Ultra Poor Graduation Initiative and Covid-19 response. 

The interventions are targeted in urban, rural and refugee settings, equitable participation of all groups, particularly women and youth, providing alternative education services, technical assistance, and advocacy to support governments and partners.

Founded in 1972 as the Bangladesh Rehabilitation Assistance Committee and later known as the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee, its operations have grown globally and with that growth, the organization changed to be known simply as BRAC.

Founded by Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, BRAC is an international development organization that partners with over 100 million people living in inequality and poverty globally. 

BRAC operates in 10 countries and has been ranked the No. 1 NGO in the world for five consecutive years by the Geneva-based NGO Advisor. (Ferdinandh Cabrera/MindaNews)