This is a low-cost program to address the challenges facing poor students, ill-trained teachers, disadvantaged schools and underprivileged communities in rural Bangladesh. From its inception, VAB focused on rural high schools as the change agents in rural education. With the high schools, VAB develops partnerships instead of conventional donor-donee relationships. Over the years it had partnerships with more than 100 rural schools.
As mentioned above, VAB’s program of quality secondary education in rural Bangladesh consists of four sets of empowerment measures - student empowerment, teacher empowerment, school empowerment and community empowerment. These measures constitute a significant contribution to the holistic approach to education with its learner-centered, student-managed and gender sensitive features and also encouraging stakeholder ownership of the improvement process.
VAB has taken a unique approach in selecting the schools it partners with. VAB selects 5 schools in a cluster, i,e., in geographical proximity of one another. The cluster approach has been taken by VAB because, in its view, this approach: (a) can achieve quality through cooperation and competition among the schools in the cluster; (b) can take advantage of any externalities that may exist; (c) can ignite interest and enthusiasm in the wider community, thus fostering improvement in quality of education; and (d) can minimize administrative costs of implementing programs and monitoring implementation. These schools are usually referred to as “cluster schools”.