National Education Conference with CREATE, 2011

CREATE collaborated with its partner in Bangladesh BRAC University Institute for Educational Development and the Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE) - a Bangladeshi coalition of NGOs working on Education issues - to organise a conference to coincide with the Global Campaign for Education's Global Action Week 2011. The conference was on the 'Right to Education - Ensuring access with equity and Quality' 7-8th of May 2011, at the Hotel Shonargaon, Dhaka.

The event saw presentations from the Minister of Education of Bangladesh, Nurul Islam Nahid. Professor R. Govinda, Dr Manzoor Ahmed, Rasheda Chowdhury (Executive Director of CAMPE), and Professor Keith Lewin. Dr Chowdhury welcomed over 60 guests and a large media presence and introduced the theme of the event focusing on the right to education. She said, "We need such a discussion to create pressure on the policy makers for getting a Right to Education Act in place in Bangladesh and to ensure the achievement of EFA with quality and equity".

Professor Govinda gave a presentation on the implementation and challenges of the Right to Education Act in India, reflecting upon his experience contributing to the drafting of the legislation. He explained why the Act was necessary despite commitments by the Indian government to ensure Education for All. The Right to Education Act has given people from marginalised ethnic groups and the lowest castes a platform to demand education for all, making clear, the state's responsibility to provide quality education, and be the provider of last resort.

Dr. Ahmed presented some of CREATE's policy messages in Bangladesh. He highlighted recent policy developments in the new National Policy on Education and discussions over the Primary Education Development Programme (PEDP III). He showed how CREATE's research findings influence these debates. In a lively discussion, most speakers were insistent that Bangladesh needed a Right to Education Act, backed up with efficient implementation of the new national education policy. Another important issue discussed was the proportion of GDP spent on primary education. Several speakers demanded an increase of the education budget to 5% to 6% of GDP from its very low level of 2.3%.

Professor Lewin presented an overview of CREATE research, explaining the conceptual and empirical work that the consortium has done over the last five years. He also highlighted some of the key messages emerging from CREATE's work in Bangladesh and how they relate to CREATE's conceptual model and work in other countries.

The Education Minister, Nurul Islam Nahid participated enthusiastically in proceedings and made several interventions. He said, "I do understand that it is not enough to just have a National Education Policy. The challenge is its full implementation". He expressed his agreement with the key ideas presented and asked for all stakeholders' support in implementing the national education policy.

Minister of Education Nurul Islam Nahid (far right) participates in the discussion with Prof Govinda, Dr Manzoor Ahmed, and Rasheda K. Choudhury (Executive Director Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE)).

A full report of the event with photos and PowerPoint presentations can be found on the Events page of the website.

The conference in Dhaka saw the launch of the book "Education in Bangladesh: Overcoming Hurdles to Equity and Quality," a collection of CREATE research on educational access in Bangladesh edited by Dr. Manzoor Ahmed and published by BRAC University Press. It is the first research-based book on access to education in Bangladesh.