- beginning with world's poorest and most collaborative montessori situations- girl friendly stories; happiness and confidence designed into accomplishing each skill...brac designed its complete k-5 curricula with two purposes; help the typical villade school get into top 10% when tested nationally at end of 5th grade; but otherwise have fun peer to peer connecting - with village relevant happy family contexts
abed loved searching for teachers with actionable results- many of whom contributed to brac's teaching materials; he loved identifying missng curricula such as 2nd grade up financial literacy; primary was also a stepping stone for identifying young women who would change bangladesh for the better; while neith er governemt or donors would ashk him to design secondary schools- brac would line up secondary scholarships and increasing partner with libraries so that teeenage girls hosted skills learning clubs matched to livelihoods
compare for example brac maths books through 5th grafe with eg maths books used in us schools- i can tell you as a boy who did well inmaths in 1950s that these are designed to make us youth 40th mostcompetent in the world; they ,ake money for publishers; they make barely competent maths teachers feel in control; they are co-sponsored by oldest tech calculating instruments- nothing could be designed to miminise coding or numerate american youth
and that's just maths - let alone cross-cultural cross-gender friendships; valuing health in places with least medical suppor or most community risk factors- what a shame that usa didnt design textbook content k-5 the way francscans suggested in eg pedagogy of the oppressed- no wonder that brac schools became the world favorite content where the billion poorest mothers helped develop places
back in einstein's day, he queried why us education seemed designed to destroy development of teamworking skills; he wrote to gandhi on one day theonly sustainable nations will be led by servamt leaders like you;
the world is so lucky that fazle abed spent 50 yeas on poverty alleviation and over 35 years as coordinating edotir of primary content; when first challnged by mrs steve jobs to go abroad his forst test market was how easily woulf brac bangladesh primary [laybooks translate to afghan schools- when the response was even more hope-building than hehad expected, he started seaching for the worlds most consistent partners in extending the knowhow of being an abed alumni; in a way ever child ging through brac k-5 got a chance for 6 years to be an alumni of abeds action learning and community building celebrations
reference learing living book published by wise to ce;ebrate abed as inaugural education laureate
adult education had been among the challenges abed faced from the start of brac in 1972 as this extract from thesis of mohammad fateh clarifiesReplyDelete
Ian Smillie (2009) in his book Freedom from Want wrote that Abed emphasized education programs in BRAC’s strategies for sustainable development for the rural poor almost from the beginning. For Abed, education was the most important tool to development. Therefore, after the relief work was over, BRAC’s first development plan was to make the entire adult population in Sulla literate and build 125 community centres (Gonokendras) for its adult learners. In BRAC’s Sulla: Phase 2 proposal to Oxfam, Abed noted that 80 percent of the adult people in Sulla were illiterate and “without education, development efforts were doomed from the start” (Smillie, 2009, p. 29). Abed also wrote that adult literacy must be functionally related to the development of the work-related skills to its learners. Smillie (2009) noted how BRAC’s functional education was divided into two parts: raising awareness and providing numeracy and literacy skills. The objective of this structure was to create a feeling of solidarity for the group and prepare the rural poor to take part in income-generation projects (Smillie, 2009). BRAC’s vice chairperson Mushtaque Chowdhury and executive director Mahabub Hossain talked about Freire’s influence on BRAC’s development and strategic initiatives in the seminar “Paulo Freire and Subaltern Consciousness” (BRAC, 2013). In the seminar, key speaker was
Professor Larry Simon (Director of Graduate Programmes in Sustainable International Development at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy) and interpreted Freire’s seminal book Pedagogy of the Oppressed. He further discussed how BRAC’s development activities was influenced by Freire’s ideas and how the oppressed can be served with different development models. In line with Larry Simon, Mushtaque Chowdhury and Mahabub Hossain talked about how Paulo Freire’s concepts helped BRAC work in its early initiatives to support the rural poor in Bangladesh. Both of the speakers talked about how Freire’s ideas guided BRAC’s founder Abed to devise strategy to help the poor people in its development programs. Echoing Freire’s philosophy, Hossain said “It is not only the poor who need opportunities for ‘conscientisation’ but every individual” (BRAC, 2013). Although Abed and his team members acknowledged Freire’s influence in designing BRAC’s development programs, it is also evident that BRAC modified some of Freire’s principles in the Bangladeshi context in its early conscientization programs (Rafi, 2003). ...
... part 2 Providing adult education was one of BRAC’s most significant attempts to fight poverty. Imam (1982) discussed what needs were faced by BRAC in designing its functional education curriculum and how BRAC developed the responses to address those needs for sustainable rural development. For Imam (1982), one major distinctive strategy developed by BRAC was its conscientization approach for the rural poor through functional education. From its early experience (November 1972 to April 1974) BRAC learned that such a strategy had littleReplyDelete
significance to the rural poor if the lessons are not connected to the lives of the learners. According to Imam (1982), Abed and his team realized that to attract the poor villagers to have functional education at community centres (Gonokendras) would not be easy if the contents of the lessons were not related to the learners’ perspectives and had no immediate visible effects or benefits. BRAC also recognized that functional literacy should lead the learners to such materials or information that would be important or meaningful to its learners to solve their real-life problems. Because the costs in time, efforts, and opportunities were too great and the benefits were unrecognizable for the average illiterate agricultural labourer, the development of functional education was essential (Imam, 1982). BRAC’s subject matters were designed based on the feedback of the potential participants of the program area and the topics were covered from areas like agriculture, family planning, health, nutrition, exploitation, capacity building, social problems, and the rights and responsibilities of citizens. Imam (1982, p. 264) wrote, “The essential content of the course was developed on the basis of an identification of the topics that were of greatest concern to the target population.” Imam (1982) further stated that centre of BRAC’s strategy for the development of the rural poor was the development of their human potential and this process was equipped by its functional education approach. Abed in his speech at the 2011 WISE Summit acknowledged the reception of Freire’s philosophy in BRAC’s education program to fight poverty. Abed stated that education is a great equalizer and he started to fight poverty with education since the inception of BRAC forty years ago in a marginalized rural village in Bangladesh. Although Abed believed that education was the strongest means to transform society, BRAC’s literacy programs faced challenges linked to gender, proximity, affordability and the flexibility that was required for children from poor, illiterate households. To address these problems, Abed said that there was a greater concentration
on devising a low cost, innovative, learner-centred curriculum, materials and methodologies, rather than focusing on physical infrastructure and facilities. Abed stated that BRAC utilized Freirean principles in designing its curriculum, which became the basis of all of BRAC’s community and capacity development activities. Abed stated:
We therefore put into practice Brazilian educator Paulo Freire’s principles on conscientization, enunciated in his Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Freire believed that the confluence of action and reflection created new knowledge and that, through reflection, learners became actors, not mere observers, and authors of their own decisions. Subsequently, all of BRAC’s community and capacity development activities have been based on these principles. (BRAC, 2011)
in listening to abed during 15 trip to bangladesh 2007-2018, he was very open about how many times a concept solution had to be tested before efficient effective expandable solution - found ; brac's early experiences with adult schooling clarify thisReplyDelete
Abed believed that unless deprived people realized that they belonged to an exploited group and had to do something for their own betterment, all economic supports provided to them would be misappropriated by the elite class within the society. Abed saw education as an integral part of development and understood that no sustainable growth was possible without education. Abed also noticed that development initiatives taken by the Bangladeshi government failed to bring satisfactory outcomes in the early 1970s and identified the absence of literacy as a reason for this failure. Abed considered illiteracy an obstruction in the path of socio-economic development in Sulla, particularly with 90 percent of the population illiterate (Smillie, 2009). Abed focused on individual initiatives targeted at the social development of Sulla and wrote a new proposal to
start a long-term development project for funding to its donor agency Oxfam for Sulla: Phase 2 in October 1972. An integral part of this project proposal was to deal with illiteracy in the Sulla region.
Abed stated in the proposal to Oxfam: “We believe that an adult literacy program is critical to the success of all development efforts and that it must be functionally related to the improvement of the occupational skills of the people so that literacy can directly contribute to higher productivity” (BRAC, 1980, p. 1). Thus, BRAC initiated an integrated development program in the Sulla Project: Phase 2 for poor villagers to provide literacy education, agricultural support, and health care. For the literacy drive, BRAC developed a curriculum that consisted of three textbooks, one numeracy skills book designed as an account book, constructed 255 literacy centers in 220 villages, and trained 293 local men and women to be teachers to provide free lessons. BRAC planned to deliver lessons to 84,000 illiterate people in the evenings, complete two courses per year, and remove adult illiteracy from the region within three years. Abed’s team was confident and expected to succeed with BRAC’s concentration of a large part of its efforts towards these goals (BRAC, 1977). However, BRAC’s first initiative to educate the adults in Sulla: Phase 2 (till April 1974) was unsuccessful. After 18 months since the project was launched in November 1972, only 5 percent were still attending even though 5,000 villagers had signed up for the program. As most participants left the program, at least one third of the centers were shut down and classes were discontinued. After seventeenth months of the project, BRAC wrote a report to Oxfam and stated that poor law and order situation in the country, inflation (70 percent in 18 months) and “wanting in leadership qualities and mental discipline” of its Field Assistants were some of the main reasons of the failure of this literacy phase (Smillie, 2009, p. 30). BRAC also pointed out that the teachers they hired to run the program were disappointing, as “Most of the teachers were unable to impart functional education to the learners as they concentrated moreReplyDelete
on alphabetization” (Smilie, 2009, p. 30). In Freire’s critical pedagogy, learning is a process that presents knowledge to learners and is then shaped through understanding, discussion and reflection. Liberating education was a mutual process where teachers learn in the act of teaching and learners teach in the act of learning (Freire, 1970). Abed also attempted to translate this approach into BRAC’s functional education program as accommodating mutual learning where the teachers also learned. Before implementing Freire’s pedagogy, the process of teaching and learning in BRAC’s program was unidirectional and had a top-down approach, and failure of its first adult literacy project in Sulla: Phase 2 is connected to this approach. BRAC also reported that the teaching materials and methodology failed to retain the learners’ interest as they were designed to teach only literacy and numeracy and had no immediate benefit for the learners. However, Nobusue (2002) stated that the technical errors and the social power structure were the main two reasons for the project’s failure. The first one was caused by boring textbooks and vocational training unsuitable to the rural economy and the second one was BRAC’s services passed into the hands of wealthy farmers. BRAC’s approach did not involve the villagers’ lived experiences or opinions in designing the curriculum, which was instead designed with a top-down approach.
Therefore, the subject contents, themes, and texts could not connect to the villagers’ lives, nature, surrounding and reality. In an interview, Abed reflected on the project’s failure and noted how the community centres were his idea that unfortunately disregarded the learners’ needs in the initial program design (Macmillian, 2015). As a result, the curriculum had minimal interest for the villagers and consequently the project failed to bring satisfactory outcomes. Abed agreed BRAC’s failure in this regard, and said, “After a hard day’s work who wants to go to a community centre to read and write? Something that will never come to any use for them” (Macmillan, 2015). Regarding situations like this Freire said, “authentic education is not carried on by ‘A’ for ‘B’ or by ‘A’ about ‘B,’ but rather by ‘A’ with ‘B,’ mediated by the world—a world which impresses and challenges both parties, giving rise to views or opinions about it” (Freire, 1970, p. 93). Freire believed that learners’ views, ideas, doubts, hopes, anxieties, existence and present situation should be considered in designing the content of education. He criticized any kind of authoritative approach and emphasized dialogue and mutual respect in formulating curriculum content which was notably absent in BRAC’s first functional education initiative to educate the poor adults in Sulla project area. Freire (1970) further stated: We simply cannot go to the laborers—urban or peasant—in the banking style, to give them “knowledge” or to impose upon them the model of the “good man” contained in a program whose content we have ourselves organized. Many political and educational plans have failed because their authors designed them according to their own personal views of reality, never once taking into account (except as mere objects of their actions) the men-in-a-situation to whom their program was ostensibly directed. (p. 94)ReplyDelete
From this disappointing Sulla: Phase 2 (November 1972 to April 1974), BRAC learned many things (BRAC, 1980). Firstly, traditional teaching curriculum based on fixed and predetermined ideas has no relevance to the immediate need and meaningful solution to the real problems of the learners. Secondly, the acquisition of literacy and numeracy skills required considerable effort and time that the learners could not afford at the cost of their hunger and hardships. Thirdly, the methodology of teaching with traditional vertical technique undermined the human dignity in adults and made learners’ interest wane quickly. Fourthly, the learners failed to retain the skills of literacy and numeracy for very long when it was the end goal, rather than a functional strategy for other outcomes. Fifthly, effective participation demands people’s awareness about their needs, problems, conditions and resources. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, real rural development can only take place through drawing out human potential with the proper utilization of available resources for generating their own emancipation and self-improvement.ReplyDelete
While BRAC was running its adult literacy campaign in the beginning in Sulla, it was also administering some other projects mainly in agriculture, fisheries, rural crafts, cooperatives, and medical care for sectoral development for the rural poor based on community participation in the same project area. From the experiences of those projects, BRAC learned that effective participation of the rural people was connected to their problems, needs, concerns and resources in their environment. In response to their understanding from adult literacy and sectoral development initiatives, BRAC decided to reduce the quantitative features of the functional education program and started to develop a new teaching method and materials that would be relevant, informative, and address the immediate concerns of the learners (BRAC, 1977). Abed and his team realized the limitations of a purely academic literacy program and agreed to change the approach from teaching only literacy to providing practical knowledge lessons relevant to adult learners’ direct concerns and benefits. Therefore, BRAC devised a functional education (based on Freire’s critical literacy) curriculum that needed to be practically related to the improvement of the occupational skills of the people and could directly contribute to higher productivity. According to BRAC’s report in Development of Innovative Methodologies in BRAC for Bangladesh (BRAC, 1977), there were multiple objectives of this new curriculum. It was important to maintain learners’ interest and participation in the educational process through the incorporation of the learner-centered content and a horizontal pedagogical relationship. ThisReplyDelete
helped modify learners’ attitudes and behaviors towards newer ideas on health, family planning, and agricultural practices. It also acted to enable learners to read simple texts likely to be of use to them with understanding and to write legibly. Lastly, it aimed to create learners’ awareness about their own personality to think, plan, and act on their own behalf for a better life. In designing this new functional education curriculum, BRAC took assistance from World Education Inc. of New York and largely adapted the ideas of Freire (BRAC, 1977). BRAC acknowledged the reception of Freire’s principles in designing its functional education curriculum and stated: The main steps followed in implementing this new program were assessment of learner’s needs and interests, designing of learning materials and methods and training of supervisors and facilitators… Much of the inspiration for this course derived from the ideas of famous Brazilian educationist Paulo Freire. (BRAC, 1980, p. 3) An early BRAC employee, Khusi Kabir, described how Abed started reading Freire in 1973 and with the staff, started to establish how to use Freire’s ideas in BRAC’s literacy program by coopting the principles and translating them to the Bangladeshi context (Smillie, 2009). Regarding inspiration from Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Abed said, “We were inspired by Paolo Freire’s work on the Pedagogy of the Oppressed, which he came out with in 1972” (Interview- Fazle Hasan Abed”, 2005) A report published by BRAC (1975) suggested that its functional literacy approach implemented in Sulla in May 1974 was more successful than its first attempt in Sulla: Phase 2, that started in November 1973 and ended in April 1974. With the new curriculum grounded in
Freire’s ideas, the program completion rate rose from 5 percent to 54 percent (BRAC, 1975). Moreover, classes became so popular that adult learners asked BRAC staff to offer education programs to their children. BRAC responded to the adult learners and started its education program for young learners. With its launch in 1985, BRAC developed Non-Formal Primary Education (NFPE) what has now become the largest non-governmental and secular school system in the world, having graduated over 10 million students (Macmillan, 2015)