Since 1999, Basic Education has been a focus for more than a decade for the Dutch Development Cooperation in Bangladesh with around €119 million aid concentrated to both the formal and non-formal education sectors. In 2010, the Netherlands decided to withdraw from the education sector and planned to phase out by 2015 formally.
Formal education support was provided through the Bangladesh Government’s second Primary Education Development Programme (PEDP II) from 2004-2011. Non-formal education support has been provided to education related efforts undertaken by a series of NGOs and the International Labour Organization. The programs reached more than 1 million children who were not participating in the formal education system. Since the start, the Embassy has developed a profound knowledge and experience in the field of education, and built an extensive network of organizations and individuals. Skill development has also been a keen focus of the programs. The aim was to reduce child labour with providing education and skills development opportunities and ensure future employment possibilities.
The education programs currently supported by the Embassy are as follows:
•‘Education Research, Training and Advocacy (ERTA)’ Program implemented by BRAC University- Institute for Educational Development (BU-IED); April 2009-March 2014, donors: EKN & Aga Khan Foundation.
•‘Transformation of UCEP towards Sustainable Service Delivery and Expansion’, named as ‘Parash’ Program, implemented by Underprivileged Children’s Educational Programs (UCEP-Bangladesh), July 2010 to June 2015, donors: EKN, DFID & Save the Children
To make use of the expertise of the education programs, the Embassy guided the existing education programs to transform gradually towards vocational training and skills development linked to the Embassy priority areas of water, sexual reproductive rights and health (SRHR) and food security, more concentrated to the private sector and economic development. For example, the Water program Blue Gold has contracted 100 scholarships to the Underprivileged Children Education Programme (UCEP).
At the same time, the Embassy will continue its membership of the active Working Group for Skills Development under the LCG Education and contribute in relevant policy decisions at country level along with key actors such as EU, ADB and Swiss Development Cooperation.
In addition to the Embassy, Nuffic will continue with its NICHE and Netherlands Fellowship Program (NFP) focusing on capacity building in Bangladesh explicitly aligned with the priority areas of the Embassy.