An Updated Assessment of the Impact of CEI’s contribution
to the economic and social development of Kakina
(Lalmonirhat, Northern Bangladesh)
Report prepared by Irene Graham
The main objective of this exercise is to update the study made in 2011 by Thomas Scurfield, assessing the impact of the contributions made by Charity Education International (CEI), a Scottish registered charity closely involved in helping the promotion of educational development of the people in general and the poor in particular, and also having involvements in providing some health support and poverty relief. The study by Thomas Scurfield was published in 2012 and is included in the CEI website: http://ceiuk.org/ImpactInfos/Index/1
Given that the Impact Assessment study by Thomas Scurfield was conducted more than a decade ago, there was, obviously, a need to carry out a fresh study, especially to inform CEI Board’s future work. Thus viewed, a special request was made to the author of this present study to carry out a fresh impact assessment as thoroughly as possible and, as before, based on a field survey. The CEI Board is particularly keen to benefit from the first-hand knowledge of the present author of the activities of CEI in the field, especially given her extensive participation as a Scottish Volunteer teacher at UttarBangla College, (now commonly known as UttarBangla University College or UUC in short), over some dozen visits to Bangladesh since May 2014 and a number of these visits covering two to three months period each.
The 2020 study
A field study was undertaken over a two-month period from January to February 2020. The field research was conducted by two Research Assistants, Messers Nurun Nabi and Jewel Sarker. For the sample survey, 212 households covering five villages were selected, a carefully structured questionnaire was conducted during January-February, 2020. All the selected villages are from the Kakina Union, one of the local government structures in the Kaliganj Upazila of Lalmonirhat district.
In the 2011 study conducted by Thomas Scurfield, data were collected from four villages in the Kakina Union: Gopal Roy, Isorkol, Kakina and Mahishamuri and, in 2020 these villages were revisited and also two villages (Ruddreshwar and Dakshin Gopalroy) were added. A sample survey of 212 households was undertaken in 2020, prior to the Covid-19 epidemic which saw the closure of all educational institutions on17 March 2020. These institutions remained closed until restricted classes resumed on 12 September 2021.
The 2020 household survey produced raw data on Educational Qualifications, Occupation, Monthly Income, Monthly Expenditure and a range of data relating to access to health services, including access to MBBS, (Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery), doctors. The survey also asked for recommendations on developing services at the Kakina Rural Health Centre and suggestions for improving educational levels and quality at UUC.
Thomas Scurfield’s 2011 Impact Assessment concluded that the Kakina Union was in a desperate need of support from charities such as CEI, trailing behind the rest of the country across a wide range of welfare indicators. 49.1% of the population lived below the poverty line in Kakina Union, in comparison to only 31.5% in Bangladesh as a whole. A similar gulf in welfare standards was seen in mortality and literacy rates. He further concluded that CEI was successfully creating a development model in Kakina Union and beyond, demonstrating that it is possible to do something effective in the fight against poverty. He said, “From a college that achieves the best degree results in the district, to a health facility that provides affordable treatment to thousands of people each year, to a microcredit facility which is helping so many out of poverty, the impact that the work of CEI has had, and continues to have, is evident everywhere”.
The following table compares 2011 and 2020 stats.
Table 1: Household Survey Comparison Table 2011 and 2020
From the above table, it can be seen, that in 2020, families are spending a greater percentage of their income on education, health care and sanitation than they did in 2011 whilst the percentage of expenditure on food has decreased. It’s not possible to explain why the percentage of expenditure on food has decreased.
The table shows a marked increase in families using fully qualified medical doctors and a corresponding decrease in the numbers using non-qualified doctors. The explanation for this is due to Kakina Rural Health Centre employing a full time MBBS trained doctor and the increase in people using Kakina Rural Health Centre is likely to be the result of the establishment of a stand-alone facility, located away from the busy shopping area.
There is a striking improvement in literacy rates since 2011. Whether in the longer term this will result in better jobs and higher wages remains to be seen.
The 2020 raw data have not been compared against the Upper and Lower Poverty levels in Bangladesh to provide a direct comparison with the 2011 study to assess whether poverty rates have reduced in the study area. Nevertheless, what can be said is that the Greater Rangpur area (within which Kakina belongs) remains in the higher poverty levels, as confirmed by the Household Income and Expenditure (HIE) Survey 2016, conducted by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics). As per the findings of this 2016 HIE Survey, a decline in poverty in Bangladesh has taken place from 31.5% in 2010 to 24.3% in 2016, with Sylhet Division witnessing the highest decline (from 28.1% to 16.2%), followed by Barisal Division (39.9% to 26.4%), Dhaka Division (30.5% to 20.3%.), Khulna Division (32.1% to 27.7%) and Rajshahi Division 29.7% to 29.0%). Only Rangpur Division witnessed an increase in poverty, from 42.3% to 47.3%.
A central focus of CEI’s work in Kakina is supporting UUC to grow and develop as a leader in the field of higher education and one that encourages female empowerment through higher education. The following table charts the level of female enrolments at UUC. There are five categories of courses: HSC (Higher Secondary certificate, equivalent to A levels), Degree (pass equivalent to an ordinary degree), Honours, BBA Professional and Masters . HSC courses began in 1994 and three years later, in 1997, Degree courses were introduced. It was another ten years before Honours degrees were offered in 2007 and it was not until 2018 that Masters were introduced. The BBA Professional course was offered for the first time in 2019.
Table 2: Female Enrolment Statistics at UUC
The highest levels of female enrolment are for Degree courses, perhaps a reflection of the fact that the government pays tuition fees for female students for these courses.
In his 2012 report, Thomas Scurfield made some specific recommendations for CE I and the following section details CEI’s response.
Thomas Scurfield’s Recommendations:
1. Improvement of IT facilities must be a priority for UBC.
2. Improve knowledge of IT and improve levels of communicative English.
3. Complete the building of a new health centre (Kakina Rural Health Centre, KRHC)
4. Raise awareness about the benefits of using an MBBS doctor, the relatively small amount KRHC charges and the availability of subsidised medicines etc.
5. Increase the availability of MBBS doctors / employ at least one full-time MBBS doctor.
6. Increase the opening hours of KRHC and the number of sessions MBBS doctors are available
7. Review the poverty alleviation projects.
Thomas Scurfield’s Impact Assessment highlighted the need for and the desire to improve communicative English, with a view to enhancing job prospects. CEI responded with a three year English and ICT Project. Although all students study English throughout primary and secondary education, their understanding and fluency is weak and most staff had not studied or used English since their days as students and confidence in speaking English was low. This is not surprising as Bangladesh is a mono-language culture. All road signs and official signs are written in Bengali and signage in English is banned. A few professions like law, demand English as all the law books are based on English law and even legal judgements are written in English. Some government and banking jobs require proficiency in English and the need for people to be fluent in written and spoken English is increasing. Sadly the current methods of teaching of English do not foster fluency in either of these areas and it was normal to find that students had a high grade in their English exams but could not understand native English speakers and could neither speak nor write in English fluently. Additionally, in the rural areas, English is rarely required outside of classrooms.
IT & English
CEI’s initial response in 2013 was to send a volunteer for a month to develop communicative English. It also applied to the Scottish Government’s International Small Grants Fund for a three-year English and ICT Project and in June 2014 that project started. The project provided new laptops, a few desktops and a regular stream of Scottish volunteer teachers to teach ICT and English to teaching staff and some students.
MBBS Doctors and KRHC
Thomas Scurfield recommended that CEI complete the building of the new health centre and CEI secured funding from the Thomas Hayward Foundation to provide a new stand-alone building for the Kakina Rural Health Centre. This building was completed in 2015. It provides discrete consulting rooms, a waiting area, a dispensing pharmacy and a few beds. It is located away from the busy shopping bazaar and since September 2014, a full time MBBS doctor has been available six days a week and the centre opening hours have been increased. This fulfils another of Scurfield’s recommendations. The support of ASA, (a major NGO in Bangladesh), has been crucial in providing a subsidy for medicines and staff salaries.
At the time of writing, ASA had withdrawn its funding due to the impact of COVID-19 on its revenues and CEI stepped in with a year-long funding commitment for staff salaries and some help to the poor patients.
Review of Poverty Alleviation Projects
Thomas Scurfield recommended CEI review its poverty alleviation projects. A review of poverty alleviation work in the area showed that there were sufficient micro-credit programmes run by large NGOs. So CEI saw that it no longer need to provide this service. Poverty alleviation work was previously conducted through Uttar Bangla Poverty Alleviation Society but with the passage of time, a shift in the type of support being provided took place. Following the review, CEI opted in favour of providing direct help with cash and in-kind support. Perhaps this was a natural development, given the acute poverty that exists in the locality. CEI has directed this cash and in-kind support to alleviating the poverty of vulnerable and poor elderly and orphans under the following two projects, Helping the Poor Elderly and the Orphans Welfare Project. The remit for poverty alleviation transferred to the Orphans Welfare and Poverty Alleviation Project. The change in focus has resulted in wider reach with more than 3000 beneficiaries. A key partner in the poverty alleviation is CEI US.
What’s clear is that CEI responded positively to Thomas Scurfield’s recommendations and what remains is to judge the impact of CEI’s direct responses and its ongoing work in Kakina.
Developments since 2011
Kakina in 2020 would be unrecognisable to Thomas Scurfield and his team. There is now a commercial bank, a shopping plaza, a 5-storey apartment block, an extensive range of shops selling a plethora of goods, a petrol station with parking facility for trucks, computer shops and there is a new Government Land Registration Building. Private cars are now common and many are available for hire. The travel time to the nearest city of Rangpur has been halved, thanks to the opening of a new bridge across the Teesta River.
Kakina Rural Health Centre now has its own stand-alone building and its own ambulance, and the college has a purpose-built 500 seat auditorium and within the campus there are two new four 4-storey buildings, six computer suites, multi-media classrooms and a solar power panels.
The College now delivers Honours in 17 subjects, Masters in 9 and has a cohort of 21 lecturers who have been admitted for PhDs at Raiganj University in West Bengal (India), and six of them have been awarded their PhDs. A Research Unit has been set up within UUC partly in recognition of the increase in Honours and Masters courses. The college’s results are among the best in the greater Rangpur area and the college has been rated in the top ten for the area and was awarded the Model College Status. It has attracted major funding for Institutional Development.
I first visited Kakina in early May 2014. As a regular visitor over a 6-year period, I have seen at first hand not only the growth and development of the college but also of Kakina. It is my view that the college and Kakina have benefitted greatly from the partnership with CEI and the guiding hand and the driving force of Dr Mozammel Huq, the founder of the college and of CEI.
Much of the infrastructure, which we take for granted in our educational institutions in the UK, is not a given in the rural areas in Bangladesh. A constant source of frustration and an inhibitor to maximising the use of multimedia classrooms and the new computer suites is the frequent power outages. To address this, CEI successfully applied for a feasibility grant from the Scottish Government’s Small Grants Programme to investigate the potential for solar energy in the college. The feasibility study concluded that solar energy could reliably be installed and now they are in situ. The funding of the solar energy panels is in part by government grant. A reliable electricity supply will make an enormous difference in the college. Students will now be able to make best use of the modern computer suites and the teachers can utilise the multi-media classrooms without fear of power outages.
The three-year project in English & ICT, which was delivered from 2014-2017, continues to pay dividends beyond its original scope. As a result of the increased confidence and skill level of a core of dedicated teaching staff, the college has set up Digital Resource Centre which trains the teaching staff to deliver lectures online on a variety of platforms including YouTube, Facebook and on UUC’s website. The creation of the Digital Resource Centre was supported by a Capacity Building Grant from the Scottish Government’s Small Grants Programme. Originally the Capacity Building grant was aimed at improving teaching quality and management and improving staff and student attendance. With the college closure in March 2020, the focus of the grant had to be altered to reflect the need to deliver teaching on line. In 2014, it would have been impossible to imagine that online teaching could and would be delivered in-house. One inhibitor to the online teaching remains the relatively high cost of internet data for both students and the teaching staff and to this end, CEI is encouraging the introduction college wide wifi. The most recent development is the college’s own TV channel, https://email@example.com
CEI is committed to female empowerment and sees education as a key vehicle for that empowerment. When the college first opened in 1994, only 9.6% of the students were female. Now the overall percentage of female students is around 32%. This overall figure masks sharp variations across the subjects. At the HSC level the most popular academic area for female students is Humanities with 42% female enrolment and the least popular being Commerce (20%), Computer Operations (22%) and Secretarial Science and Accounting (23%). Degree Pass courses show 40% female enrolment overall and the BSS Degree Course has 44% female enrolment. In Honours Courses 28.66% are female students. Within Honours courses, Maths and Marketing attract only 7% and 9% female students respectively, whilst Botany attracts 50%, Sociology 48%, Zoology 39% and Political Science 32%. There were no female students studying Statistics.
To encourage and retain female students, CEI has successfully applied for a range of grants. The Souter Foundation has awarded CEI two grants of £3000 to provide a Female Student Support Fund. The first of these grants was in 2018 and it reached 250 female students who were awarded small amounts of money which, while small to us, make a huge difference to the students and their families. A second grant was received in 2020. Again to support female education, CEI secured a 4 year grant from the Scottish Episcopal Church’s Global Partnerships Committee to fully fund 14 female students throughout their 4 year Honours degree.
For many families, the safety of their daughters studying in colleges is paramount. Those who travel daily face harassment and “Eve Teasing” and to reduce the likelihood of this, families insist that the young women must cover their heads and faces. The families who support their daughters to stay close to the college want reassurance that the hostels or “mess” will be suitable and safe. Whilst UUC has a small 50 bed female hostel, this is not sufficient and so CEI has invested in a piece of land for the building of a 500 bed female hostel. As the statistics show, female engagement in higher education has remained around 32%. CEI is committed to increasing this percentage.
Number of Students at UUC.
When the college opened in 1994, it attracted 156 students and only 15 were female. Courses were offered at HSC (Higher Secondary Certificate) level only. By 2011-12, the college intake stood at 888 of which 260 were female. 452 were enrolled at HSC level, 107 at Degree Pass level and 329 at Honours level. By 2019-20, enrolment had grown to 1067 with 502 at HSC level, 58 at Degree Pass and 494 at Honours level. In 2018-19, Masters programmes started and 183 were enrolled that year. A total of 14,302 students have benefitted from the various courses provided by UUC. 32% or 4,616 of that total are female students.
There are many degree colleges in the Greater Rangpur area but only a few offer the range, breadth and quality of courses that UUC provides and none has the strong international dimension that UUC has. Through CEI, UUC has benefited from a regular stream of Scottish volunteers whose presence raises the status of the college and whose teaching raises the skill level and confidence in speaking English and using ICT technology.
As stated earlier, UUC is a high ranking college that produces consistently good results and has been recognised as such by the National University and the Government of Bangladesh.
CEI has acknowledged that good exam results are not sufficient to guarantee progress in the labour market for graduates. The rural location of UUC and the high levels of poverty in the area are but two of the barriers to well paid jobs where access can depend on who you know and how big a bribe can be made. Despite Bangladesh being a mono language country, the demand for proficiency in written and spoken English in the jobs market and the requirement to have ICT skills points to the need to continue to develop programmes that offer communicative English and ICT proficiency beyond the rather sterile strictures of the syllabus.
Impact Assessment of CEI Projects since 2011
In the years since the first impact assessment, CEI has raised dedicated funds for a number of major projects in the fields of Education & Health and through its USA counterpart has funded cash & blanket distribution to the elderly poor and orphans.
In the field of education
Investment in UUC’s Library.
CEI originally raised the funds to build the first two floors of the Guru Nanak Library with support from the Sikh Community in Glasgow. The third floor was completed in 2011.
CEI however did more than just support the building of the library, it has arranged a total of six book shipments, five of them since 2011.
Until 2019, the Library was home to a Language Lab and it also housed the departmental bases of a number of subjects but they have now been relocated.
CEI raised a total £85,000 in three distinct grants from the Scottish Government’s Small Grants Programme. The first of these grants was awarded in 2014 for a three year English & ICT Programme. By the end of the project in March 2017, some 20 laptops and two desktop computers had been donated and fourteen volunteer teachers from Scotland had made three teaching visits in each year of the project to build capacity in both ICT and English. At the end of the project the laptops were distributed to the Principal, 12 departments, the library and the Honours reading room. At the start of the project, a large plasma screen was installed in the language lab and this was used to deliver lessons using PowerPoint and to show videos and films.
The impact of having a regular stream of Scottish volunteer teachers over the three-year life of the project and beyond is immense. The reputation and status of the College was raised and the level of confidence in speaking English in both staff and students rose noticeably. It is worth emphasising that having a visiting native English speaking volunteer is very unusual in the rural north of Bangladesh. Even long established higher education institutions like Carmichael College in Rangpur, do not have visiting volunteer teachers. Reputation and status are important in Bangladesh and serve as a key attractor of quality teaching staff and also of keen and eager students.
All of the volunteers introduced a range of teaching methodologies: group work, paired work, multi-media presentations, quizzes, mind-mapping, using song and video, using the internet. These methodologies were in stark contrast to the chalk and talk lecture tradition used in the College. Under the three-year project, there were three sets of volunteer visits each year with a break between each visit. This lack of continuity resulted in learning being lost and any future project needs to address this. The professionalism of all of the volunteers in terms of time-keeping, attendance and teaching standards was remarkable and served to spotlight gaps in the College’s teaching management which tolerated poor quality teaching, late coming and high absence rates from both the staff and students. It was clear the College lacked capacity in teaching management. Despite many challenges facing UUC and a clear need for the College to introduce teaching management systems, the College delivered good results and in 2015 was ranked amongst the top ten degree colleges in the Greater Rangpur Area (population 10million). In 2016 the College was awarded Model College status by the National University. As a result of this Model College status, the college was eligible to apply to become a College Education Development Project, an initiative of the Bangladesh Government, funded by the the World Bank. The application required the college to outline in detail how funding would be used in a range of areas. The application process was both demanding and challenging and a dedicated in-house team steered the application to success with support from CEI’s founder and a volunteer. The college has been able to access approximately $1m on a draw down basis over a three-year period and it has allowed major infrastructure investment, a research project and an investment in staff training.
At the start of the three-year project English & ICT, the College was not equipped with reliable and up to date computer equipment and multi-media devices and the staff capacity to make use of these was very low. In 2014, only a handful of staff had ever used a computer, only a few had email addresses, few had smart phones, and even fewer had access to or owned a laptop or computer. Although the project left behind laptops and two desktop computers, the bigger legacy is that the College now has six modern computer labs with up-to-date equipment and a number classrooms have been fitted with multi-media devices. The funding of these new facilities came from the College’s own resources and from the funds attached to the College Education Development Project.
Over the years since 2014, staff capacity to use smart phones, use computers and PowerPoint and to produce online lessons has grown and continues to grow such that there is an in-house team providing training in online teaching and an Online Teaching Lab has been established.
Throughout the three-year span of the project, it became clear that unless the College could deal with the frequent power outages, the use of the new computer labs and the multi-media classrooms would be very limited. Although the College had a back-up generator, its reach was very limited and the cost was prohibitive.
This led CEI to apply for a Feasibility Study Grant from the Scottish Government’s Small Grants programme. The £10,000 grant was used to test the feasibility of installing solar energy into the college campus. This technical study demonstrated that it was possible to install solar panels and that it would be cost effective to do so. Solar panels have now been installed, funded by the College Education Development Project.
A third Scottish Government grant of £15,000 was awarded in 2020 to support Teaching Capacity Building focusing on Education Management for Learning Advancement. The project was originally aimed at teaching management capacity building for quality education based on normal face-to-face teaching. However, with the long-drawn out Corona pandemic and colleges all over the country remaining closed, there was a shift to Online Teaching delivery. As a result of the grant, a dedicated Teaching Management Office was established, an Academic Administrator was appointed, an Online Teaching Lab was established and a successful Online Teaching Programme was implemented (907 Lectures delivered); a system of Monitoring of teaching Programmes with regular monthly Reports and follow-ups was introduced; three Training Workshops on “Education Motivation and Confidence Building” were held; a major Research Study on Teaching Management was conducted and an Awards and Sanctions Programme was introduced and 72 Teachers were rewarded. The National University of Bangladesh provided a grant for a second Online Teaching Lab.
It could be said that the CEI’s projects act as a catalyst.
In terms of infrastructure, CEI raised funds to build an auditorium adjacent to the male hostel. With funds being raised over a period of time, the auditorium took some time to complete and although it came into use in 2017 it did so without lighting, soundproofing and audio equipment. Thanks to the College Education Development Project, the installation of these missing items was completed. The auditorium is used for major cultural events, award ceremonies and is also made available for wider community use.
CEI and the College recognised the value and importance of having a regular stream of Scottish teaching volunteers and after the completion of the three-year project, CEI set up a Teacher in Residence Project that saw two volunteers make a total of four teaching visits between 2018 and 2020, funded from CEI’s own resources. The Teacher in Residence Programme has a wider focus than the original English & ICT Project and with the ICT capacity within the college being now well developed, there is a limited focus on ICT and it is mainly directed towards making best use of the multi-media classrooms. With the awarding of the Feasibility and Capacity Building Grants from the Scottish Government, came a requirement to demonstrate that our in-country partners had Safeguarding Policies and Procedures in place. As the Safeguarding lead for CEI and a Teacher in Residence, I worked with CEI’s Board of Management to develop an appropriate Safeguarding Policy. Other schools and colleges heard about this and invited me to work with their staff and management to develop Safeguarding Policies.
Once again, the catalyst effect can be seen at work.
Another major development has been supporting a PhD research programme with Raiganj University in West Bangla in India, an initiative that would not have taken place without the support and encouragement of Dr Mozammel Huq, CEI’s founder, and financial support from the CEI Board members and supporters. It started with seven candidates in 2016 and now has 23 scholars, six of whom have been awarded their doctorates. Of the current 23 Scholars under the UUC PhD Programme, only two are female academic staff members, both of whom undertaking their research studies at Begum Rokeya University in Rangpur, Bangladesh.
Also, as already mentioned, CEI has applied for grants for female empowerment and continues to do so.
In the area of Health, CEI has supported the building of a new Health Centre, located away from the busy shopping bazaar. Although only completed in 2015, this building is in need of upgrading due to the high demand and usage. CEI secured funding from ASA, a major NGO in Bangladesh, for a full time doctor and for subsidised medicines. With the closures that resulted from the pandemic, ASA withdrew funding from all its projects and CEI stepped in to raise dedicated funds to pay the salaries of the Health Centre staff for more than a year. In April 2018, CEI delivered an ambulance to the KRHC and it provides a 24-hour service. The fund-raising for the ambulance took a number of years and was greatly supported by Rotary in Renfrewshire. The Health Centre charges a small amount for use of the ambulance and an unexpected outcome of this is that the cost of private commercial journeys to hospitals has decreased.
In 2020 a Pathology Lab was set up at KRHC and a qualified member of staff was hired to conduct routine blood testing, etc. An ultrasound was also purchased, providing a much-needed resource for pregnant women. In Bangladesh there is an aggressive pathology testing industry that promotes and advocates for testing. Many of these tests are unnecessary and all are expensive. KRHC’s pathology lab reduces costs for patients and only does required testing. Table 1 shows that the percentage of the 212 survey respondents accessing MBBS qualified doctors grew from 8.56 % to 61.79% from 2011 to 2020. The health centre’s statistics demonstrate the reach.
Since 2011, a total of 45,664 patients have accessed services at KRHC: 33% male, 43% female and 23% children. The ambulance became operational in 2018 and during its first three years it transported a total of 987 patients: 38% male, 45% female and 16% children. It’s clear there is a demand for local health services delivered by qualified staff and CEI has played a crucial role in securing these.
In the area of Poverty Alleviation, CEI has distributed cash to impoverished elderly and to orphans through Helping the Poor Elderly Project and the Orphans Welfare and Poverty Alleviation Project. These projects are funded mainly through CEI’s USA sister organisation, CEI USA. The Orphans Welfare Project is managed by KRHC staff who conduct home visits and apply strict criteria for the distribution of cash. A key element is that the orphans who receive the cash, must attend school and show academic progress. There is reliable documentation and checks to ensure that the cash is distributed fairly. It’s clear that without the cash support, many of the orphans would leave school early and be forced into low paid work. In the most recent distribution round, 155 orphans received a total of £1820.
The Distribution of cash to the Elderly Poor is not well documented. I have witnessed the cash distribution and whilst the names are recorded and steps are taken to ensure no one receives more than one payment, there does not appear to be any criteria for assessing who should receive support. That said, given that poverty levels are high in the area and that the Government social support systems are weak, the cash distributed does make a difference to the elderly poor.
Winters in Bangladesh are cold and damp and houses have no form of heating. Every year blankets are distributed to the poorest households who receive them gratefully.
The numbers reached through CEI’s programmes are often assessed against the direct beneficiaries, and these are highly impressive. However, if one begins to look at the indirect beneficiaries then CEI’s impact is truly outstanding.
There is no doubt that CEI’s interventions have made a significant impact on the lives of the people in Kakina and the surrounding areas.
Future Direction and Recommendations
For UUC to maintain its high standing and deliver for its students, it needs to have college based WIFI. With college based WIFI, a new kind of international support will be possible. Lectures, seminars, tutorials can be delivered from Scotland and elsewhere. Also there is scope to develop links and a partnership with the Bangladesh Open University which has a range of free online classes.
A new English & ICT Project has been requested by the College aimed at skilling up graduates for the world of work. Bangladesh, like many countries, produces cohorts of Honours graduates who can’t get jobs because they don’t have the skills, in particular fluency in English and the ICT proficiency required for the current and changing job market. A new project will need to address the issue of continuity and incorporate a mechanism for ensuring that learning takes place when the volunteer teachers are not in residence. Encouraging self-directed learning and to providing online courses would be effective solutions.
Whilst the college now had 150 modern computers and a reliable electricity supply, the lack of college WIFI or Intranet limits online learning. Additionally, the Microsoft systems installed on the college computers are out of date. These issues need to be addressed and CEI can play a role in advising on this.
There is still a need for improved Teaching Management and for the quality of teaching to be improved. Clear HR processes and procedures would be a useful addition and the Safeguarding Policies and Processes put in place in 2019/20 need to be reviewed. CEI can offer support with these.
The KRHC Building is need of repair and upgrade and the strong links with ASA need to be maintained and fostered. CEI should look to secure funds to upgrade the fabric of the building.
Approaches to the Government need to be made to argue for the introduction of a government-run health facility in the area, say, with 10 in-patient beds.
Longer term KRCH could become part of the UUC campus as its dedicated health centre.
Funding for the cash distribution to the poor elderly and orphans needs to be secured.
Strengthening the Partnership with UUC
Many of the initiatives undertaken by CEI have been driven by the vision and foresight of CEI’s founder Dr Mozammel Huq, and the Governing Body and the Principal of the College have welcomed these. The CEI Board would like to see more demands being made from Kakina and with a new Principal having been appointed in December 2021, there is an opportunity to develop a new partnership.
For more information on CEI’s work in Bangladesh, go to https://www.ceiuk.org
16th August, 2023