Canada supports progress in Bangladesh

January 21, 2011

Today, the Honourable Beverley J. Oda, Minister of International Cooperation, announced Canada's support for new initiatives that will secure a better future for children and the people of Bangladesh. Bangladesh has made significant progress toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals; however, 80 million people, or 50 percent of the population, still live on only $1.25 a day.

"Canada is proud that its long history working in Bangladesh has resulted in steady economic and social progress, however it remains a country in great need. Children, particularly those from minority ethnic groups, the poorest families and remote rural areas, are not receiving the education they need for a better future," said Minister Oda. "By focusing our efforts, Canada will make a difference in the quality of life of thousands of children in Bangladesh. Sustainable progress to improve the education systems, as well as improving the capacity of the government to provide needed services while supporting economic growth will make a real difference for those in need."

It has been noted that despite progress towards the Millennium Development Goal related to education and the Global Education For All initiative, children from minority ethnic groups, the poorest families and the remote rural communities are still not enrolled in quality schools. The BRAC Education Program Phase II project will address these challenges. Canada supported the first phase of this project, which resulted in improved access to quality, non-formal education for 1.32 million children. The second phase will improve the quality of state-supported schools focusing on improved enrollment, and the training of primary and secondary teachers.

Complementing these efforts, CIDA is supporting the Strengthening Public Expenditure Management Program, which will strengthen the Bangladesh Government's capacity in economic planning, budgeting and financial resource management. It will also improve the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General as well as many parliamentary committees with fiscal oversight responsibilities. This project will help the government deliver public services such as education and health care and stimulate sustainable economic growth.

Bangladesh is one of CIDA's countries of focus for international development assistance. CIDA's support for these two projects, totaling $40 million, will achieve sustainable results that will make a difference for those living in poverty in Bangladesh.

For more information on the new projects in Bangladesh, please refer to the attached backgrounder.

For more information on CIDA's work on maternal, newborn and child health, please visit the CIDA website.

For more information on CIDA's development program in Bangladesh, please see the Country Strategy and the Project Browser.

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Information:

Justin Broekema
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of International Cooperation
Telephone: 819-953-6238

Media Relations Office
Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
Telephone: 819-953-6534
Email: media@acdi-cida.gc.ca

Backgrounder

Canada supports progress in Bangladesh

Bangladesh is one of the world's most populous countries with 160 million people, 57 percent of whom are under the age of 25. It has seen many achievements in economic and social development over the last 15 years. Sustained public spending in key priority areas has steadily improved its social indicators, in many cases exceeding those of other countries in the region and elsewhere. Bangladesh has made significant progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals, however the incidence of poverty remains one of the highest in the world with 80 million or 50 percent of the population living on $1.25 a day. Canada is supporting two projects that will build on the progress achieved, improve the education of children and help the government deliver key public services in Bangladesh.

Supporting Children and Youth:

The country has made substantial progress towards the Millennium Development Goals relating to education and the global Education For All initiative. Despite this progress, the children still not in schools are predominately from minority ethnic groups, very poor households, and/or remote regions. In addition, the retention and completion rates for primary education are low. The main challenges of the education system in Bangladesh include low quality of teaching methods and materials, a lack of adequate teacher training, high student-teacher ratio in classrooms, and inequality for poor and marginalized groups in urban slums and rural areas, especially girls.

  • CIDA supported the successful BRAC Education Program (BEP I) from 2004-2009 which focused on basic education. The results include improved access to quality, non-formal education for 1.32 million children (64 percent girls), including 45,000 from marginalized ethnic groups and 26,000 children with special needs.
  • The BRAC Education Program Phase II project will improve the quality of state-sponsored schools, focusing on improving enrolment for the very poor, ethnic minorities, and children from remote areas whose lack of access to education poses a serious challenge to the achievement of universal primary education. Teachers will receive additional training at 2,600 government primary schools and 1,500 registered non-government secondary schools. (CIDA Contribution: $20 million over 5 years)

Sustainable Economic Growth:

Bangladesh's fiscal policies and institutions have undergone important changes, however more can be done to improve strategic planning, budget planning, and strengthened parliamentary oversight. The Government of Bangladesh can increasingly continue to move toward middle-income status by ensuring macroeconomic and fiscal stability by adopting policies and mechanisms to facilitate private sector-led growth, maintaining fiscal discipline, allocating resources according to national and sectoral priorities, and spending public resources in an efficient manner. Addressing these concerns is important for its economic growth.

  • The Strengthening Public Expenditure Management Program will increase the Bangladesh Government's capacity to deliver public services such as education and health care and stimulate sustainable economic growth. The program will train public servants in economic planning, budgeting and managing financial resources, as well as set up systems to manage Bangladesh's public finances in a more efficient manner. The World Bank, CIDA's implementing partner, will help strengthen the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General and the financial accountability in central ministries, focusing on education and health. The program will also work to strengthen parliamentary oversight with stronger parliamentary committees responsible for financial oversight. (CIDA Contribution: $20 million over 5 years)

These projects, totalling $40 million over 5 years, are aligned with CIDA's country strategy in Bangladesh and are projected to achieve results that will have impact on the lives of those living in poverty. They target the improvement of the education of children in Bangladesh and increasing the government's fiscal management capacity to ensure continued delivery of basic services.

For further information on Canada's development projects in Bangladesh visit the Canadian International Development Agency's Project Browser.

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