Global Connections and Exchange Project (GCEP)
Recognizing that schools and their communities are intrinsically interdependent, Relief International- Schools Online Bangladesh began launching school-community dual use telecenters in Bangladesh in 2004 under the Global Connections and Exchange Program. Over the last four years, we have found this approach to be viable in terms of educational, societal and sustainability goals.
The project is operating 47 internet enabled telecenters in rural and semi urban areas in 10 districts. Each telecenter is often shared by neighboring schools, madrasa and colleges, local institutions plus surrounding communities. Without these centers, these beneficiaries would have no access to computing technology, broadband or dial-up internet.
Since the program spans both school and community, it is uniquely able to integrate the two, bringing students into closer contact with civil society. The project promotes in country and cross cultural collaboration through Internet based communication tools. Many of the online projects relate to local community concerns ( such as, climate change ) and encourage student activity that goes beyond the walls of the school, or which brings community members into closer contact with students. The structure of the project within Bangladesh allows it to work within this global program, yet retain a local flavor.
The GCE program runs high quality training and capacity building in technology in the educational context, the utilization of ICT for civic education, strong community involvement and a focus on girls in secondary school and madrasa in Bangladesh.
For more information on the GCE project: www.connect-bangladesh.org
Transparency for Human Rights in Bangladesh (THR)
The European Commission supported project, Transparency for Human Rights (THR) builds on the tradition of outspoken sharp reporting in Bangladesh with an action designed to train and organise media professionals and media outlets so that they have the power to defend freedom of expression in Bangladesh and to advocate for widespread respect for human rights at the national level through coalitions with other rights defenders and opinion makers. The results of the proposed action are objective reporting, stronger capacity of media professionals to defend the right to free expression, increased public access to information, increased public awareness of and public pressure for human rights, and an improvement in the human rights record of the Bangladeshi government.
The overall objectives of the programme are to enhance the culture of human rights at the grassroots and government levels in Bangladesh and to engage the media to act as an ally of victims of rights violations. The specific objective is to strengthen the capacity of the media and civil society as active advocates for human rights in 20 districts of Bangladesh.
The two expected results are as follows:
(1) Strengthened capacity of the Bangladeshi media as a promoter of human rights through the establishment and capacity building of a national network of journalists. This network will be designed to recognise and report on human rights violations, to advocate for freedom of expression and human rights, and to provide media professionals with a forum to discuss and explore creative solutions against infringements of freedom of expression and opinion;
(2) Raised awareness of human rights violations among civil society entities and the public at large through a constructive dialogue about the promotion of human rights.
The project will be implemented in Bangladesh in 2010-2011 in collaboration with Democracywatch, a local non government organization.
Media Access and Education for Human Rights ( MAEHR)
RI UK and the Bangladesh Centre for Development, Journalism and Communication (BCDJC) have partnered to implement the Project, “Media Access and Education for Human Rights: Bangladesh”. The EURO 78000 project promotes human rights issues targeting media, students and civil society organisations. This Project is designed to alert marginalized members of society to the power of media to effect change, and to make media accessible to them. Through this proposal, the public is empowered to make the most effective use of its media assets. This Project is built on the experience and activities undertaken by RI-SOL Bangladesh country Office, particularly through Global Connections and Exchange Programme (GCEP)
The 18-month project involves six components:
Rural Reporter Linkage Initiative: BCDJC identifies remote upazilas (sub-district) that lack press visibility but are experiencing human rights infringements. BCDJC, with input from RI, develops an upazila-level curriculum for journalist professional development and human rights training. Local journalists participate in one year long training and are paired with mainstream media editors. This builds their capacity as reporters and creates a conduit for human rights reporting from underserved, marginalised areas.
Journalism Module for Secondary Schools: RI, with expert input from BCDJC, develops a secondary school journalism and human rights module, which complements the existing national curriculum. The module is implemented in RI-affiliated secondary schools, reaching 2700 students. Students are introduced to the role of journalism, and issues of freedom of speech, right to information, and public accountability of elected officials.
Youth Journalism and Human Rights Camp: RI, with expert input from BCDJC, develops an intensive week-long camp to introduce students in Class IX to XII to journalism and human rights topics. The camp runs for six weeks at an RI-telecentre campus, allowing one hundred and forty-four students to develop their journalism and technology skills and explore journalism as a career.
Media Telecentre Workshops: RI, with expert input from BCDJC, develops three workshops, one each for secondary school students, media professionals, and human rights advocates. The workshops are offered at twenty-seven RI telecentres located in marginalised areas of Bangladesh. In addition to the didactic component, students apply technology skills to online journalism and human rights projects, which continue beyond the workshop. Media professionals learn how to use technology to further their capacity to bring human rights issues to public attention. Civil society organisations and individual activists receive additional training in writing effective press releases, editorials and using technology as a social mobilisation tool.
Localisation of Online Communications Tools: RI catalyses development of online Bengali- localised resources by coordinating the development of a lexicon for web-based applications. The lexicon is applied to two blog portals, making web-based self-publication available to Bengali users.
Enabling Communication Technologies: Few Bangladeshis, particularly those from vulnerable communities, have access to computers or internet technology, but phones and faxes are common. RI implements a voice/fax gateway, allowing Bangladeshi users to post human rights-related content to the web by phone or fax.
For more information on MAEHR project: www.media-humanrights.org
Fostering English Language in Secondary Schools
RI BD received a grant from the American Center in Dhaka to implement this project in GCE affiliated schools in 2007-2008. The goal of this project is to increase English language skills among youth by training 16 youth as English language tutors who host English language clubs at select underprivileged schools in GCE network. English Language Fellows (ELF) play a central role in training the alumnus and assists with preparing modules and materials, training the alumnus to organize and facilitate English language clubs, and to monitor and evaluate the alumni teachers’ progress throughout the duration of the project. This project attempts to strengthen relationships across programs and across organizations i.e. RI and Nacel Open Door /BEARN in addition to strengthening the relationship between alumnus and Relief International.
Global Learning and Observation to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE)
The GLOBE program promotes science and environment education in Bangladeshi schools. Currently the project is being implemented in 8 schools. The current GCE program supports implementation of the project in 4 schools. The activities under the proposed project covers mainly on science programs as well as cultural and societal issues and touches mainly more on science related contents. GCEP Education Team and a volunteer GLOBE Advisor develop a number of web based collaborative projects with lesson plans in order to implement the GLOBE protocols. The lesson plan focuses on global environment including forestry, conservation, weather prediction, disaster mitigation, global warming and echo tourism.
For more information on the GLOBE activities: www.connect-bangladesh.org
Linking Individuals, Knowledge and Culture ( 2005-2007)
Funded by ECA, the Linking Individuals, Knowledge and Culture Program (LINC) was a two way exchange program providing twenty young leaders from two countries (Bangladesh and the United States) the opportunity to view cultures, youth leadership, and environmental development from a global perspective through participation in a threeweek international exchange and continued environmental service. The theme for exchange that took place in 2008 was 'Science, Technology and the Environment'. RI partnered with several local organizations to implement the LINC program.
The first grant contract was awarded in 2005 and the second contract in 2006.
International Sports Initiatives (2006-2007)
Funded by the ECA, the International Sports Programming Initiative was a two-way exchange designed to ensure the optimal technical proficiency among the coaches participating in the program while also emphasizing the role sports can play in the long-term economic well being of youth and their society. The program was directed towards sport coaches responsible for physical education of children ages eight to eighteen. For three weeks, American coaches instructed visiting Bangladeshi coaches in sports training methodologies through seminars, practical demonstrations, and work shadow opportunities. American participants later spent three weeks in Bangladesh conducting workshops, site visits and a training camp on sports coaching for Bangladeshi government, school, and youth organizations.
English as a Foreign Language (2006-2007)
RI and Hamline University in Minnesota conducted a teacher exchange program to disseminate best practices in ESL teaching in Eastern Indian and Bangladesh, and to promote cultural exchange between this region and the US. The project was designed to ensure an on-going program of teacher education by those trained in the exchange. 30 teachers from India and Bangladesh and 8 teachers from the USA took part in the exchange program. The program was funded by ECA. These teachers returned to their home countries to propagate the knowledge through workshops and follow-on activities.