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Volunteers Association for Bangladesh

 
 

The Volunteers Association for Bangladesh (VAB, pronounced VaaB – meaning “idea” or “feeling” in Bengali) aims at empowering poor children of rural Bangladesh to have a brighter future. VAB helps them gain quality high school education and vocational skills training.

Since its establishment in 1998, VAB has helped more than 300,000 young men and women and their families in rural areas of Bangladesh. VAB’s mission is now moving forward with greater strength and higher hopes.

Latest Developments

VAB's Book Published: on "Quality Education for Rural Bangladesh"


In commemoration of the Birth Centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman

From Day One since its establishment on 16 December, 1998, VAB has been devoted to high school education in rural Bangladesh, promoting both quantity and quality. In its work for the past 22 years, it succeeded in both the goals remarkably. Improvement in “quantity” is evidenced by higher rate of enrollment, attendance, and importantly, by outstanding pass rates in JSC and SSC exams. Improvement in “quality” is reflected in higher performance of graduates in JSC and SSC exams (earning letter grades A+, A and A-), and amazing accomplishments of rural students in computer skills, as well as debating, English and Math skills application, demonstrated in local, regional and national competitions. Over the 22 years, VAB carried out field-level work with more than hundred rural schools in various parts of the country, received input from them, processed such inputs with their own search and research, and devised innovative low-cost and replicable measures to enhance the quality of education, tested the measures and refined them. The book incorporates an account of VAB’s pursuit of quality education in rural Bangladesh and presents a “manual” of the inter-related and integrated measures,collectively called “the VAB Model”, applicable in all high schools of the country, particularly the rural ones.

Following the guidance provided in the National Education Policy, VAB defined “quality” as enhancement of Learning, Competence and Citizenship. The greatest obstacle VAB faced, as commonly recognized, was scarcity of resources. So, VAB’s bold efforts were devoted to finding ways to augment scarce resources, and get optimal benefits out of limited resources. The innovative thinking of VAB, spearheaded by the Country Director, bore fruit. VAB found “hidden” resources in rural environment (openness, school having a playground, etc.), as well as in rural human endowment (relative abundance, in parents, of respect for the elders, teachers and authority; in students, of obedience, self-reliance, and strength in struggle for life). VAB inputted such resources in its measures. In innovative ways, VAB also optimized the outputs from the limited resources – by re-imagining education as student and learner-centered; by re-imagining teachers and mentors as guides and facilitators; by re-imaging teaching and training as can be provided by students themselves); in short, by re-imagining rural schools. The innovative measures are reflected in the Group Method of Learning/Teaching in classrooms and beyond; in teachers’ training of new pedagogy, training their substitutes among students, and self-training; in Student Clubs with Leadership Groups of students which can provide training and mentoring to other students; etc. The book is a chronicle of such effective initiatives, which VAB believes, can be applied by any rural high school.

VAB thinks, with humility indeed, the book as a “Manual” can go a long way in solving the problem of quality education which is plaguing the country now. VAB invites everyone interested in quality education, particularly educationists, policy thinkers and makers, and funding agencies, to read the book.  VAB is making the electronic version of the book available, free of cost, to Headmasters of as many rural schools of Bangladesh as possible, starting with the schools VAB has been working with. This is to encourage them to apply the measures in their respective schools. Any queries about the book or its availability may be directed to Dr. Jasimuz Zaman, zaman.jasimuz@gmail.com

Quality Education for Rural Bangladesh

 

Post-Covid Pedagogy for STEM Teachers


Preparing STEM Teachers for Post Covid Pandemic Pedagogy

The Society for Popularization of Science in Bangladesh (SPSB) organized a three day Workshop on Preparing STEM Teachers for Post Covid Pandemic Pedagogy on May 28-30. Covid-imposed restrictions have caused an alarming “loss of education” in all subjects, particularly in STEM subjects. The aim of the Workshop was to ameliorate the deficit through innovation in pedagogy. The group shared the results of their preliminary work on prioritizing contents of curriculum for Science and Math in Classes VI and VIII. The presentation was interactive with lively participation of the teachers to identify the prioritized coverage of the curriculum following the NCTB textbooks. 45 teachers from schools in different parts of the country took part in the Workshopvirtually on Zoom, who included 20 teachers from schools under the VAB umbrella.

There was unanimity among the participants that the physical classroom is essential to meet the learning needs of students, because alternative attempts to reach rural students through different initiatives kept a large proportion of rural students completely unserved. The options considered were physical classrooms with normal class hours during the day, for duration of two months, four months and six months.

VAB has been itself working on devising an effective pedagogy to meet the learning deficit of students. In order to learn lessons from the Workshop, the Country Director of VAB and two staff members attended the full Workshop as guests.

Mr. Munir Hasan vice president of SPSB introduced the Workshop. Professor Zafar Iqbal, eminent expert on STEM education, was invited to speak.Dr. Iqbal emphasized the importance of creating an enjoyable learning environment to give a boost to the interest and enthusiasm of students for learning STEM subjects. VAB’s Country Director in his comment at the closing session said that VAB developed a practical and workable methodology for achieving engagement of students in learning, through its Quality Education Model, applied in 50 schools indifferent parts of the country. The Model focuses on student driven learning through the Group Method and moves further in achieving the other goals of education through student clubs, which also apply the Group Method. He expressed readiness to share the recently published book on the VAB Model with those interested.

The Workshop was conducted very well by a group of young volunteers, and the research content was of high quality. It is expected that there will be further Workshops for pedagogy in due course, because appropriate pedagogy may contribute to countering the education deficit caused by Covid.

Lifetime Achievement Award


VAB’s Founder and President Dr. A T Rafiqur Rahman Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

It is with great honor and pride that we announce that Marquis Who's Who, the world's premier publisher of biographical profiles, has just presented A T Rafiqur Rahman, PhD, with the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award, for his “achievements, leadership qualities, and the credentials and successes he has accrued in his field”.

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