The overall mission of IUBAT University calls for creation of knowledge conducive to socio-agro-economic upliftment of developing societies in general and that of Bangladesh in particular. In keeping with this mission, IUBAT University is expected to engage in research geared towards development of the country in multiple dimensions. IUBAT University should act as a catalytic agent for change and reform to bring welfare to the teeming million of the country.
The above perspective led to the establishment of a Center for Policy Research (CPR) with active support and involvement of the Simon Fraser University (SFU), Vancouver, Canada. This is reflected in the execution of a specific memorandum of understanding between SFU and IUBAT University with the intent to encourage faculty and students of the two universities to participate in the activities of the CPR.
The mandate for the CPR is to produce accessible bilingual monographs (in Bengali and English) on major issues bearing on economic, social and business development in Bangladesh and, in addition, to undertake related activities which may include organizing seminars and hosting visiting scholars.
The CPR proposes to examine a broad range of public policies relevant to the economic development of Bangladesh. Without being exhaustive, the following are areas of potential study:
- Inadequate quality of basic services: The quality of many publicly supplied services is inadequate. These inadequacies are subject to wide public discussion but to little thorough analysis. Example include erratic provision of electric power, lack of accountability of primary and secondary school teachers to parents and unacceptably high drop out rates among school children, and irregular urban waste disposal. The center could document problems in detail, and propose options based on best practices in other developing countries.
- Environmental degradation: This has many aspects and solutions are complex in an overpopulated poor country. Bangladesh is losing up to one percent of its forested area per year, and poaching is a problem in forest reserves in the Sundorban. The water table is subject to pollution.
- Fiscal policy: Studies could summarize the relevant issues surrounding budgeting priorities and compare with best practices elsewhere. For example, too much goes to the military; too much tax revenue depends on import duties with attendant economic distortions and difficulties of customs.
- Regulatory reform: Many individuals and business leaders express frustration with the extensive and arbitrary nature of government regulation. To make progress on this subject requires meticulous examination of what actually takes place in particular areas, and discussion of proposals for reform.
- Institutional reform: Bangladesh does not have an effectively functioning system of local government. Over the last decade several options have been put forward. The center could realistically assess advantages and disadvantages of each.
The CPR is expected to contribute to public understanding of major contemporary policy issues in Bangladesh by publishing a series of monographs. CPR could also undertake other policy-related activities, such as well focused seminars and training. In effect, CPR could perform some of the functions of independent policy institutes. Over the last generation, such policy institutes have become important catalysts for generating intelligent public policy discussion in western countries.
Doing this well is not easy. Though policy institutes deal with issues subject to partisan debate, it is integral to their mandate that such institutes be independent of any political party. The monographs published must be objective and rigorous but, at the same time, they must be accessible to a broad range of potentially interested people: business executives, senior civil servants, academics and senior journalists. Central to the activity of CPR must be establishment of an efficient distribution system capable of reaching the target audience.
The independence is sought through creating a supervisory board of 4-5 persons with the ability to judge suitability of potential topics for analysis and the suitability of potential authors. This group would also need to adjudicate the quality of work written. It would sanction any particular seminar to be organized. A Management Committee of 4 persons with an Advisor has been established to provide guidance to CPR.
Probably, most monographs would be written by individuals outside IUBAT University. They would prepare their monographs on a contractual basis. Of necessity, compensation would be at a much lower level than for professional consultancy. Occasionally, monographs could be of book length, but most would be much – 20-30 pages in length.
Writers could include academics and independent experts living in Bangladesh, Bangladeshis living and working abroad, and occasionally foreigners who could bring a useful comparative perspective.
A crucial resource in monograph preparation is copy editing. Frequently, experts engaged to write on a subject lack the writing skills to render their reports in clear, readable English. This may be a particularly acute problem in this country, since English is the second language. The use of electronic mail would enable some of this editing to be conducted abroad without undue delay.
ACTIVITIES TO DATE
The Management Committee has deliberated on the mandate of CPR in the short, medium and long run and came out with some modus operandi of operation. The center shall carry out studies and research on major socio-economic policies facing Bangladesh society leading to publication of monographs, background papers, occasional papers, monthly magazines and books. Initially, the center should publish only two monographs per year, which may gradually increase.
A certificate course on Social Policy Analysis has been conducted. Another certificate course on Women in Development has been offered for officials of the Ministry of Women Affairs of the Government of Bangladesh.
The center is involved in the process of gradually evolving its activity domain in order to contribute to the overall mission of the university for welfare of people of Bangladesh by contributing to public understanding of major contemporary public policy issues facing the society.
SEMINAR, DIALOGUES AND ROUND TABLES
Round table on Natural Gas Options for Bangladesh
CPR organized a Round table on Natural Gas Options for Bangladesh on Tuesday, February 20, 2001 at the Conference Room of IDB Bhaban, Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, Dhaka. Prof Dr John Richards, Professor, Simon Fraser University, Canada and Member, IUBAT University International Advisory Council and Dr Mujibur Rahman Khan, Professor, College of Engineering and Technology, IUBAT University jointly led the roundtable and Prof Dr M Alimullah Miyan, Vice-Chancellor and Founder of IUBAT University presided over the roundtable.
Seminar on Natural Gas Use
CPR organized a Seminar on Natural Gas Use on Saturday, February 24, 2001 at the Auditorium of Academy for Planning and Development, Nilkhet, Dhaka. Prof Dr John Richards and Dr Mujibur Rahman Khan, Professor, College of Engineering and Technology, IUBAT University jointly led the seminar and the Vice-Chancellor of IUBAT University presided over the seminar.
Perspective of Natural Gas Use – Dialogue with the Media
CPR organized a Dialogue with the Media on Perspective of Natural Gas Use on Thursday, March 1, 2001 at the Conference Hall of National Press Club, Dhaka. Prof Dr John Richards and Member, IUBAT University International Advisory Council and Dr Mujibur Rahman Khan, Professor, College of Engineering and Technology, IUBAT University jointly led the dialogue and the Vice-Chancellor of IUBAT University presided over.
Round table on Gas for Electrification
CPR has released a report on natural gas policy for Bangladesh. A group of experts at a roundtable discussed the report on Tuesday, 20th February, 2001.
The report recommends a five-year moratorium on all gas exports: “The moratorium would give the government time to establish priorities for domestic use of natural gas,” say the authors. They conclude that rapid electrification of Bangladesh should have the highest priority as use for the natural gas.
The authors are Dr. Mujibur Rahman Khan, Professor Mark Jaccard and Professor John Richards. Dr. Khan is a professor at IUBAT University and former Director General of the Bangladesh Geological Survey. Mark Jaccard and John Richards teach at Simon Fraser University, in Vancouver, Canada. Professor Jaccard is a former chairman of the British Columbia Utilities Commission, the agency responsible for regulating the power and natural gas industries in this Canadian province.
The authors discuss three options for using natural gas in Bangladesh:
- exporting gas to provide government revenues for development needs;
- expanding rapidly all end-uses (such as fertilizer production and residential distribution);
- concentrating use of gas on accelerated electrification.
The report concludes that electrification is probably the most important option. “As evidenced by the continuous load shedding, even in Dhaka, an inadequate supply of electricity is, without a doubt, a major constraint on economic growth in Bangladesh.”
Rural Electrification Dialogue with the Media
CPR organized a “Rural Electrification Dialogue with the Media on August 22, 2002 at the Conference Room of National Press Club.
On the occasion CPR released its second monograph on Electricity for All: Electrification and Development in Rural Bangladesh, a new study on rural electrification. The authors are Mr. Nuruddin Kamal, former Chairman of the Bangladesh Power Development Board, Ms. Rose Murphy, Research Associate, School of Resource and Environmental Management of Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada, and Professor John Richards.
The study congratulates the Rural Electrification Board (REB) and its network of cooperatives – the Palli Biddyut Samitees (PBSs) – for their accomplishments, but calls on them to do more. The study recommends that the REB rapidly expand its present power generation activities by enabling many gas-powered turbines to be built throughout those areas of the country where gas is accessible by pipeline.
Some of this expansion the REB could finance, but it will also require a larger role for independent power producers. In turn, this will require development of an effective regulatory commission by the government.
The REB distributes nearly a quarter of all electricity consumed in Bangladesh, to over 30,000 villages. Along with the Power Development Board (PDB) and the Dhaka Electric Supply Authority (DESA), the REB is one of the major power distribution agencies.
The study analyses the barriers to improved electrical service in Bangladesh.
During the 1990s, the generating capacity of the Power Development Board did not increase as fast as the demand by connected customers. The solution was to curtail demand in particular regions of the country. At its most severe, in 1997, load shedding occurred, somewhere in the country, on nearly every day of the year.
Since 1998, new capacity has become available; more new projects are under construction and others are in the planning stage. Load shedding has diminished. Nonetheless, generating capacity is very low and load shedding has discouraged rural customers from seeking power connections. At present, among those in rural areas, only about one in seven has access to electricity.
Historically, the PDB has not achieved satisfactory productivity. Bangladesh requires more employees per customer served than in most other developing countries.
System loss is the difference between electricity generated and electricity for which electrical utilities bill customers. System loss in Bangladesh is approximately 30 percent, which is highest among developing countries in Asia. Some loss arises for technical reasons, but much is due to administrative inefficiencies and corruption of the billing process.
Among the three major utilities distributing electricity in Bangladesh – the REB, PDB, and DESA – the REB experiences by far the lowest system loss. Unlike other public sector power agencies, REB employees are paid according to productivity; hiring and firing are based on merit. As a consequence of superior management, the REB has created trust among its customers and employees.
At present, the combination of high system loss and present tariff structure do not allow the power sector to cover overall operating costs and set aside adequate funds for expansion and maintenance of capacity. The PDB calls on the Government to provide external finance to cover its deficit, and investment needs. This diverts government revenues from other vital activities, such as funding of education and health.
Bangladesh has natural gas reserves. These are the only large scale commercially accessible energy source available within the country. It is vital to use this resource carefully.
The two major reports published by the CPR – Natural Gas Options for Bangladesh released in 2001, and Electricity for All released on 22nd August, 2002 have proposed a five-year moratorium on the decision about natural gas exports by pipeline. During this time, the reports propose that the Government place a high priority on major expansion of power generation, particularly in rural areas. An expanded electricity market would provide a large domestic market for natural gas within Bangladesh and make export an unattractive option.
If generating capacity is to increase at a faster rate then current plans suggest, it will require more investment by private producers. In turn, a more rapid expansion of the private power sector will require an appropriate regulatory commission.
A regulatory commission will have a complex task. On the one hand, private power producers will not invest significantly unless they have reasonable assurance that the regulatory commission will enable them to set tariffs adequate to recover costs, and that the bill collecting process will be reliable. On the other hand, a regulatory commission must assure users of electricity that private power producers will perform reliably, and that they will not charge unduly high rates to their customers.
Round table on Rural Electrification
The CPR conducted a roundtable on rural electrification among academics,
officials, and others interested in this important matter on August 25, 2002 at IDB Bhaban, Dhaka. State Minister, Power Division, Ministry of Power, Energy & Mineral Resources, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh was the Chief Guest of the roundtable. Prof Dr John Richards and Mr Nuruddin M Kamal, Senior Research fellow, CPR, IUBAT University jointly led the roundtable. State Minister, Power Division, Ministry of Power, Energy & Mineral Resources, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh was the Chief Guest of the roundtable. The Vice-Chancellor of IUBAT University presided over.
Issues discussed in the round table included the following:
- Need for a nonpartisan regulatory commission in the power sector: A reasonable target for rural electrification is that the average Bangladeshi family have access to 1000 kwh annually within ten years. To achieve this target will require a doubling of present generating capacity. Some increase can be financed by the PDB and the REB, but it will also require a much greater role for private independent power producers (IPPs).
A credible regulatory commission is necessary if significant IPP investment is to take place.
Such a commission has a complex task. It must be nonpartisan and credible among both customers and producers. It must assure customers that IPPs perform adequately and do not charge unduly high tariffs. On the other hand, IPPs will not invest without reasonable assurance that the tariff rates will allow them to recover costs, and that the billing process will not be corrupted.
- Extending activities of REB and PBSs to include many power generation experiments.
The REB/PBS network has played a highly significant role in the last 25 years. It has a good record of administration, and has thereby created trust among its workers and customers.
The REB has sponsored some small generation projects but it should undertake more ambitious experiments. An interesting strategy is to enable viable PBSs to undertake “within the fence” IPPs.
A major problem for the REB is the frequency of load shedding and voltage variability in the power purchased from the national grid supplied by the PDB. A strategy to solve this problem is to enable viable PBSs to enter into contracts with IPPs to generate power for customers independent of the national grid. All such customers would be “within the fence” obtaining their power from the IPP. There is a large potential for such experiments, based on small gas-turbine generators.
- Reform of the PDB:
For several years, projects have been underway to reform the PDB. Many of these projects imply “unbundling” of the PDB, which is a very large agency, into smaller more easily manageable corporations with more managerial independence from the government.
The goal of these projects is to reduce system loss by removing corruption in the billing process. Also, a new regulatory commission should exercise authority to revise the PDB tariffs – including the rate at which it sells power to the REB – in order to reduce and ultimately eliminate the financial deficit of the PDB. This would provide the PDB with a financial surplus that would enable it to expand capacity without drawing on government revenues.
These reforms are controversial: they require increased productivity of PDB employees, an end to corrupt billing practices, and higher tariffs for many customers.
The roundtable addressed the problems of present power system in Bangladesh.
Public Lecture on Rural Electrification
A Public Lecture on Rural Electrification was organized at Planning Academy, Dhaka on August 29, 2002. The Minister of Industries, Government of Bangladesh was present as the Chief Guest. Other speakers were Nuruddin Kamal, Senior Research Fellow, CPR and Professor John Richards. The Vice-Chancellor of IUBAT University chaired the lecture.
The CPR recently released a study on electrification (Electricity for All: Electrification and Development in Bangladesh). The recommendation of the study is to use available gas reserves to increase the generating capacity of Bangladesh Power Section. For significant increase in capacity will require significant reform in power sector. The speakers discussed on three important reforms.
- A credible nonpartisan regulatory com-mission in the power sector
A reasonable target for rural electrification is that the average Bangladeshi family has access to 1000 kwh annually within ten years. To achieve this target will require a doubling of present generating capacity with a much greater role for private independent power producers (IPPs).
For the last two years, Transparency International has rated Bangladesh as the country having the most corrupt public sector. The current level of corruption is extremely damaging to all aspects of Bangladesh society and economy. In this environment, no significant IPP investment will occur.
A necessary precondition for IPP investment is creation of a regulatory commission with a credible political mandate to be nonpartisan and to combat corruption.
Such a commission must assure customers that IPPs perform adequately, that they provide service without expectations of baksheesh (Kickback), and do not charge unduly high tariffs. On the other hand, IPPs require reasonable assurance that the tariff rates will allow them to recover costs, and that the billing process will not be corrupted by dishonest meter readers and local politicians.
- Extending activities of REB and PBSs to include many power generation experiments.
The REB/PBS network has played a highly positive role in the last 25 years. It has avoided the corruption that has characterized the PDB and DESA, and has thereby created trust among its workers and customers.
The REB has sponsored some small generation projects; it should undertake more ambitious experiments in power generation. An interesting strategy is to encourage successful PBSs to undertake “within the fence” IPPs. These would be small gas-powered turbines, owned and financed by private investors, selling their power exclusively to customers within a small group of PBSs.
All such customers would be “within the fence,” obtaining their power from the IPP. These customers might pay a higher tariff but would enjoy uninterrupted access. There is probably a large potential for such small-scale gas turbine power plants in Bangladesh.
- Reform of the PDB
For the last decade, projects have been underway to reform the PDB. Many of these projects imply “unbundling” of the PDB, a very large agency, into smaller more easily manageable corporations with more managerial independence from the government. One goal is to reduce system loss by removing corruption in the billing process.
A new regulatory commission should exercise authority to revise the PDB tariffs – including the rate at which it sells power to the REB – in order to reduce and ultimately eliminate the financial deficit of the PDB. This would provide the PDB with a financial surplus that would enable it to expand capacity without drawing on government revenues.
These reforms are controversial: they require increased productivity of PDB employees, an end to corrupt billing practices, and higher tariffs for many customers. These reforms will not be publicly acceptable unless they are accompanied with an improved quality of power service.
Speakers at the lecture also summarized the present problems of the power sector in terms of load shedding, operating inefficiency, system loss and inappropriate tariff structure. Discussants from the floor suggested remial measures to overcome the inefficiencies of the power sector.
The Chief Guest of the public lecture highlighted the need for investment in power sector and the desire of the government to share the benefit of electricity with the people in rural Bangladesh. The Minister appreciated the role of IUBAT University in conducting research on public policy in cooperation with overseas partners. He expressed the view that such research and sharing of recommendations through different forums will improve the quality of public services in Bangladesh.
Roundtable on Privatization in Bangladesh
The CPR organized a Roundtable on Privatization in Bangladesh on Thursday, August 28, 2010 at the CIRDAP Auditorium, Dhaka. Prof Dr John Richards and Member, IUBAT University International Advisory Council led the roundtable. Minister of the Ministry of Commerce, Government of Bangladesh graced the roundtable as the Chief Guest. Chairman (Minister of State), Privatization Commission, GOB was the Special Guest and the Vice-Chancellor of IUBAT University presided over the roundtable.
Dialogue and Publication Ceremony of Energy Policy for Bangladesh
CPR organized a dialogue and publication ceremony of its 3rd monograph on Energy Policy for Bangladesh on August 16, 2004 at the CIRDAP Auditorium, Dhaka. Dr John Richards led the ceremony. Minister for Education, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh graced the program as the Chief Guest. State Minister for Energy and Mineral Resources, Government of Bangladesh was the Special Guest. The Vice-Chancellor of IUBAT University presided over the program.
Dialogue with the Media
CPR organized a Dialogue with the Media on Energy Policy for Bangladesh on Saturday, August 21, 2004 at the Conference Room of National Press Club, Dhaka. Dr John Richards led the roundtable and the Vice-Chancellor of IUBAT University presided over the same.
Roundtable on What Parents Think of Their Children’s Schools
The CPR organized a roundtable on What Parents Think of Their Children’s Schools on May 21, 2007 at the Conference Hall of IUBAT University. Dr John Richards led the roundtable and the Vice-Chancellor of IUBAT University presided over the same.
CPR Dialogue with Media on Primary Education
On the occasion of the publication of its 4th research monograph, the CPR organized a dialogue with the media at the Dhaka Reporters Unity on May 22, 2007. The Dialogue was led by Dr John Richards and moderated by the university Vice-Chancellor.
The monograph title is “What Parents Think of Their Children’s Schools” and incorporates the findings of a research conducted among the parents in the Uttara suburb.
It has been observed that the number of children attending school in Bangladesh has increased dramatically since 1990 but still a large number of primary-aged children numbering around 2.5 million do not attend school. Since 1990, the number of primary school students has risen by 50 percent. The number of students in secondary school has risen by nearly threefold. Another accomplishment is that the enrolment rate among girls is now equal to that for boys in both primary (grades 1 – 5) and secondary (grades 6 – 10). However, this achievement is muddled by serious problem of school quality.
The survey in Uttara illustrated some of the problems in school quality:
- Among parents in both Government and BRAC non-formal schools, over half were concerned with the quality of teachers. These concerns were far less among parents whose children attended private schools or madrasas.
- Poor school management was a perceived problem among over half the parents whose children attend Government schools. School management is not perceived as a problem among parents with children in non-formal or private schools, or madrasas.
The key problems identified within the primary education system are:
- Over centralized control of schools (for example, excessive rigidity of school curriculum);
- Weak local school management and inadequate role for parent participation, exacerbated by political interference;
- Poor quality of teaching;
- Inadequate school infrastructure and learning material;
- Severe poverty among some families, which serves as a barrier to accessing education.
The study pointed to three broad strategies for overcoming problems in the primary education sector. The first is to replace the current government stipend program with a selective school voucher programme. The voucher system may reduce abuse found in the current government stipend programme and has the potential of promoting competition among different types of schools based on quality. The second strategy is to transfer meaningful power over education policy from central authority and Members of Parliament to elected regional or local councils. Such a decentralization through community involvement and supervision may have a positive impact on educational quality. The third strategy is to reform teacher training to stress “active” teaching techniques. Presently, most teachers in most schools use rote learning techniques. However, modern approach of “active” environment of student participation through dynamic classroom activities like student physical exercise, signing, drawing and dancing will improve the quality of education.
The Dialogue proposed an agenda for action:
- Minimum quality standards in all school streams
- Shared core curriculum
- Minimum standards for school facilities and teachers
- Use of tests in core competencies
- Major decentralization of authority over budgets, hiring and firing of teachers
- Elimination of MP role in school management committees
- Rules-based allocation of budgets to upazila authorities
- Professionalism of school inspectors
- Increase in education share of national budget
(All CPR monographs are available free on line at http://www.iubat.edu/cpr)
It was observed that education is a key factor in the development of Bangladesh. Success has been realized in improving the quantity of and access to primary education, yet the policy question remains, how best to improve the quality of primary education. Among others, establishing a school system that is accountable and schools that focus on learning outcomes is imperative.
Uttara Community Dialogue on What Parents Think of Their Children’s Schools
CPR organized an Uttara Community Dialogue on What Parents Think of Their Children’s Schools: A Survey of School Quality Among Parents in Uttara on Wednesday, May 23, 2007 at the Conference Hall of IUBAT University. The dialogue was a follow-up of publication of the 4th monograph of CPR. Through this dialogue CPR shared findings and exchange community views on the findings. Dr John Richards led the dialogue. The Vice-Chancellor, Sher-E-Bangla Nagar Agricultural University, Dhaka was the Chief Guest and the Vice-Chancellor of IUBAT University presided over the dialogue.
Dialogue and Launching Ceremony of the Monograph on Barriers to Girls’ Secondary School Participation in Rural Bangladesh
CPR organized a dialogue and publication ceremony of its 5th research monograph at the VIP Lounge of the National Press Club on August 29, 2007. The presentation was led by Dr John Richards and moderated by the university Vice-Chancellor. Ms Rasheda Akhtar Khanam, Member, Executive Committee, Women for Women was the designated commentator. The ceremony had participation from the academia, journalists and women organization.
The monograph titled “Barriers to Girls’ Secondary School Participation in Rural Bangladesh” has been authored by Jenifer Hove, Visiting Fellow to IUBAT University from Canada.
Prof John Richards in his presentation on the monograph observed that over the last 15 years, the number of secondary school students in Bangladesh has nearly tripled. The enrolment rate in grades 6 to 10 among 11 – 15 year old children is now about 50 percent. The increase among girls has been particularly remarkable.
There remain however serious problems: relatively few girls are completing their studies. Among 100 girls who enter grade 6 only about 14 are achieving a SSC. The completion rate for boys is also low. Among 100 boys who enter grade 6, about 20 are achieving a SSC.
The monograph is based on interviews conducted (focus groups) with parents, teachers, enrolled students, and students who have abandoned their studies. These interviews were conducted in four schools in Manikganj district. Her study analyses the reasons that girls abandon their studies and proposes reforms to the Female Stipend Programme (FSP) that may reduce drop out among girls.
In 1994, Bangladesh introduced the Female Stipend Program (FSP), a nationwide policy aimed at encouraging rural girls to attend secondary school. The FSP provides monthly stipends and free tuition to eligible families. It has been instrumental in raising enrolment rates among rural girls.
The factors that cause some girls to stop attending school can be categorised as the push out effects related to poor school quality and the pull out effects of poverty, family and social pressures. This study reviews girls’ education policies in Bangladesh and recent assessments of the FSP. It also includes an analysis of key education indicators.
Interview responses reveal a number of factors determining probability of a student dropping out:
- The difficulty experienced by many students in meeting the required minimum 45 percent marks (a condition of the FSP);
- The importance of private tutoring to achieve the stipend minimum mark requirements and learning goals in general;
- The impact of poverty, including the inability to afford private tutoring and devote the necessary time on studies;
- Family characteristics, including size and low parental education levels.
These issues illustrate that many of the barriers to girls’ secondary school participation stem from low socio-economic condition. In assessing policies to encourage girls’ completion of secondary school, this study focuses on disadvantaged girls rather than all rural girls. The policy options assessed are as follows:
- Status Quo: this option, to continue the FSP in its current incarnation, is a benchmark from which to compare the other policies.
- Lower FSP Performance Requirement: this second option maintains all features of the current FSP with the exception of the performance requirement related to exam marks. The minimum marks threshold is reduced from 45 to 40 percent in half-yearly and annual exams.
- Target the FSP: this third option also reduces the minimum requirement to 40 percent marks, but modifies programme eligibility to target the 30 percent poorest rural girls enrolled, with regional variation based on poverty maps, female illiteracy and enrolment/attendance rates. Community-based targeting is utilized, along with clear inclusion indicators and simple family questionnaires to document poverty status. Selection of recipients is conducted by headteachers and SMCs, in conjunction with local NGOs that target poor families.
- Target the FSP Plus Instructional Support: this last option is the same as option three, but is supplemented by the provision of instructional support through peer-tutoring. Both girls who have graduated from secondary school and girl students enrolled in higher grades are to be trained as peer tutors to provide instructional support to stipend beneficiaries.
To analyse how well each option is likely to retain disadvantaged girls in secondary studies, the following criteria are used: 1) impact on school access, 2) impact on girls’ learning achievements, 3) impact on overall school improvements, 4) financial sustainability of the programme cost by the Bangladesh government, and 5) response of concerned interest groups. Based on an assessment using these criteria, the study recommends that the FSP introduce poverty-targeted eligibility conditions, while also providing instructional support to stipend recipients to mitigate their difficulty in affording private tutoring. Monitoring and evaluation are crucial to ensuring financial sustainability, effective targeting and overall success of the policy.
The designated commentator Ms Akhter made extensive comments on the monograph and congratulated the author and CPR for making an important contribution to women empowerment in Bangladesh. The open floor discussions from a well attended audience followed the comments. In his Presidentail speech Prof Miyan pointed to the multi-faced role of girls education ranging from reduction in birth rate, to repression on women. The publication can be downloaded from www.iubat.edu/cpr
Dialogue and Launching Ceremony of A new Mandate for the Rural Electrification Board
CPR launched the monograph ‘A New Mandate for the Rural Electrification Board: Area-Based Planning Initiatives to Relieve Power Shortages’ in a ceremony arranged at the Conference Room of Dhaka Reporters’ Unity on Thursday August 14, 2008.
The monograph has been co-authored by Dr John Richards, Mr B D Rahamatullah, Director, Training, Rural Electrification Board and Ms Nancy Norris, SFU, Canada. The Vice-Chancellor of IUBAT University presided over the function attended by cross section of people including experts in the energy sectors and resource persons.
Mr B D Rahamatullah unwrapped the monograph. Mr Rahamatullah who gathered extensive experience all through his long association with the power sector development shared that area based planning initiatives for rural electrification is a definite viable option, if implemented, would yield maximum output in liberating the country people from hazardous power shortage. Mr Rahmatullah in his speech highlighted the background of the new monograph which they co-authored and projected different problems in the operational filed giving details of working methodology being exercised. He hoped that the new monograph released will bring grater dynamism in all functionaries improving working and supply condition.
Prof Richards in his speech dissertated the present status-quo of power sector in Bangladesh, problems and prospects, feasibility of area based planning option on the basis of research findings and recommended that REB requires sustainable legislation, initiation of captive power projects, more investment in distributed generation capacity, overcome managerial difficulties and should explore the potential of obtaining financing for renewable energy projects to surpass power shortage in the country.
Dialogue and Launching Ceremony of Improving Nutritional Status for Women in Low-Income Households
The CPR launched the monograph on Improving Nutritional Status for Women in –Low Income Households through a dialogue and launching ceremony organized at the VIP Lounge of National Press Club, Dhaka.
The objective of this study is to provide policy advice to improve the nutritional status of low-income women in Bangladesh. While some suffer from inadequate calorie intake, the major nutritional problem is inadequate consumption of protein and micronutrients.
The monograph reports the nutritional status of a sample of nearly 600 women surveyed in two sites, one rural and one urban. The rural site is a group of villages near Jamalpur; the urban site is a slum in Uttara, in the Dhaka metropolitan area. Malnutrition among women is a serious problem in Bangladesh as in many developing countries. Protein-energy malnutrition, iron deficiency anaemia, and vitamin A deficiency are common. Malnutrition is a major cause of the high maternal mortality rate in Bangladesh, a rate second only to Nepal among South Asian countries. Malnutrition passes from one generation to the next as malnourished mothers give birth to malnourished children. There exist regional differences in the health and nutritional status of women. Generally, people living in the slums of Dhaka region consume more calories than those living in slums elsewhere. Among an earlier study undertaken by the nursing college at IUBAT University of women living in a Uttara slum, about 12 per cent did not have adequate calorie intake in their diet to achieve a body mass index (BMI) above the traditional threshold of 18.5. Other studies have found more than 20 per cent of slum women in Dhaka suffering a BMI below 18.5.
Based on the study findings, the monograph recommends some cost effective policy options to address key nutritional problems
COMPLETION OF RESEARCH
Natural Gas Options
The CPR conducted research and published its first monograph on Natural Gas Options for Bangladesh in 2001was authored by Professor Mark Jaccard, Dr Mujibur Rahman Khan and Prof Dr John Richards. This monograph explores three options for how Bangladesh might use its natural gas endowment: exporting gas to provide public revenues that could be directed to many other development needs; expanding the many possible end-uses for gas in domestic industry, agriculture and households; or concentrating natural gas use on accelerated electrification. After assessing the three options, the authors conclude that rapid electrification should have the highest priority.
In addition, the monograph discusses Institutional reforms to foster private investment and to improve the transparency, efficiency and consistency of government corporations, ministries and agencies. There is an important case to be made for integrated resource planning that includes environmental and social objectives.
Research on Rural Electrification
Research on rural electrification was carried out under the Centre for Policy Research as a joint venture between IUBAT University and Simon Fraser University (SFU), Vancouver, Canada. The research was initiated in 2001 and one staff member from SFU spend the summer of 2001 at IUBAT University as a visiting research fellow to conduct the field research. This collaborative research resulted in preparation of a report and publication of a monograph under the title of Electricity for All: Electrification and Development in Rural Bangladesh under the authorship of Rose Murphy, Nuruddin Kamal and John Richards. This has been published in Summer, 2002 as CPR commentary No 2 by the Centre for Policy Research of IUBAT University (ISBN 984-861-0006).
The monograph has been launched through a series of programs like dialogue with the media, roundtable on rural electrification, and public lecture in Dhaka and an workshop with the Palli Bidduit Samity (PBS) at Mymensingh in August, 2002. The report has also been distributed to all stakeholders in rural electrification like PBSs, all power related organizations, print media editors, program producers of electronic media, members of civil society, all political parties, libraries and research organizations as well as policy makers including all members of Bangladesh parliament. Besides, the monograph is available for sale through commercial book sellers. An website has been created for CPR and an internet version of the monograph is available at the website for viewing and downloading. Thus, the CPR policy of wide dissemination of research publications has been followed in distribution of this monograph.
The monograph makes a strong plea on the importance of electricity for relieving poverty and accelerating economic growth of Bangladesh. The research report brings together in one document a great deal of practical information about the power sector in Bangladesh, plus a series of practical reforms to improve its performance and, in particular, reforms to accelerate rural electrification.
Energy Policy for Bangladesh
In May 2004, the Government of Bangladesh released a draft National Energy Policy, and invited public commentary. The government report acknowledges the serious shortcomings of present policy and the dilemmas in designing new policy.
The CPR conducted study and published its third monograph on Energy Policy for Bangladesh authored by Prof Dr M Alimullah Miyan and Prof Dr John Richards was released in Summer 2004. In this monographs responded to the draft National Energy Policy and offer a series of recommendations. The recommendations cover major issues from export of natural gas to improvements in the utilization of biomass fuels.
Quality Primary Education
Over the last decade, Bangladesh has made impressive gains in the quantity of education available. As of 2004, there were 18 million children enrolled in 110,000 primary schools. The majority attend government schools but a sizeable minority, approximately one third, attend either private schools where parents pay, non-formal NGO-run schools, or madrasas. The CPR conducted a study and published it’s forth monogram on What Parents Think of Their Children’s School in Summer 2004 was authored by Sandra Nikolic and John Richards. The findings includes over-centralized control of schools, week local school management and inadequate role for parent participation, exacerbated by political interference; poor quality of teaching; inadequate school infrastructure and learning materials; and severe poverty among some families, which serves as a barrier to access education. The study also suggests that parents have concerns about school quality – as well as the availability of school spaces. The recommendations based on the findings include replacement of government school stipend with selective school voucher programme; transfer meaningful power over education policy from central authority and members of parliament to elected regional or local councils; and reform teacher training to stress “active” teaching techniques.
Females’ Secondary School Participation
The CPR conducted a study and published its fifth monograph on Barriers to Girls’ Secondary School Participation in Rural Bangladesh in Autumn 2007. According to the study, over the last 15 years, secondary school enrolment rates among both boys and girls have risen dramatically. The findings are: girls’ rates of progression and completion of the secondary cycle (from grades six through ten) are disturbingly low – albeit the comparable rates for boys are also low. At grade six there is near parity between the number of boys and girls enrolled. By grade ten, boys are significantly ahead of girls in participation in public examinations and promotion to higher secondary school. Only 13 per cent of girls who complete the tenth grade transition to the higher secondary grades of eleven and twelve. There are powerful forces at work within schools, families and the broader society that dissuade girls from staying in school. Based on interview responses among teachers, students and parents in four rural schools, this study analyses why girls drop out of school, and offers policy recommendations to increase completion rates.
The CPR conducted study and published its 6th Monograph on A New Mandate for the Rural Electrification Board: Area-Based Planning Initiatives to Relieve Power Shortages, in Summer 2008 was authored by B. D. Rahmatullah, Nancy Norris and John Richards. The study focused on the requirements of power sector reform, achievements, keys to success and limitations and recommended an expansion of the REB mandate to enable the REB and its network of rural cooperatives (Palli Biddyut Samitee) to create generating capacity independent of the national grid, capacity whose power would be distributed on a priority basis to customers in the local participating PBS.
Improving Nutrition Status of Women
The CPR conducted study and published its 8th Monograph on Improving Nutritional Status for Women in Low-Income Households, in Summer 2012 was authored by Ms Afifa Shahrin and John Richards. The study focused on the cost effective policy options that may improve nutritional status for women in low income households in rural and urban-slum areas.
The CPR is conducting a research on
The investigation on the relationship between educational accomplishment by children and nutrition is underway for publication of a research monogram in the near future
So far, the Centre for Policy Research has conducted research and published monographs on different issues of national, regional and international importance as follows:
- Natural Gas Options for Bangladesh, Mark Jaccard, Mujibur Rahman and John Richards, Centre for Policy Research, IUBAT University, Spring 2001
- Electricity for All, Rose Murphy, Nuruddin Kamal and John Richards, Centre for Policy Research, IUBAT University, Summer 2002, ISBN Number 984 861 000 6
- Energy Policy for Bangladesh, Dr M Alimullah Miyan and John Richards, PhD, Centre for Policy Research, IUBAT University, Summer 2004, ISBN Number 984 861 001 4
- What Parents Think of Their Children’s Schools, Sandra Nikolic and John Richards, Centre for Policy Research, IUBAT University, Summer 2007, ISBN Number 984-70060-0000-6
- Barriers to Girls’ Secondary School Participation in Rural Bangladesh, Jennifer Hove, Centre for Policy Research, IUBAT University, Fall 2007, ISBN Number 984-70060-0001-3
- A New Mandate for Rural Electrification Board – Area-Based Planning Initiatives to Relieve Power Shortages, B.D. Rahmatullah, Nancy Norris and John Richards, Centre for Policy Research, IUBAT University, Summer 2008, ISBN Number 984-70060-0002-0
- Improving Nutritional Status for Women in Low-Income Households, Afifa Shahrin and John Richards, Centre for Policy Research, IUBAT University, Summer 2012, ISBN 984-70060-0005-1
All these publications are available online free of cost at www.iubat.edu/cpr