Nurjahan Begum_Empowering the Children of Microentrepreneurs
Empowering the Children of Microentrepreneurs with Primary and Secondary Education, College Scholarships and Loans, and Financial Services for Their Businesses Presented by: Nurjahan Begum Managing Director Grameen Shikkha And Former Acting Managing Director, Grameen Bank
Education and Poverty ReductionFor most poor people, education is one of the most importantweapons, like microcredit, to fight poverty.Education not only equips the poor with necessary skills toovercome poverty, it also broadens their views about life andallows them to realize the broader social perspective in whichthey live.
Grameen and Education for the PoorSoon after Grameen started its microcredit activities it made itmandatory for its borrowers to learn to sign their names and itselftook the responsibility of teaching it.For a poor illiterate woman who had never held a pen in her hand,this knowledge of how to sign her name on official papers was atremendous boost in her own confidence and personaldevelopment, which she carried throughout her life.Counting money, maintaining bank passbooks etc. increased herknowledge and self-confidence in undertaking income generatingactivities of her own.It also encouraged her to ensure education for her children.Children in Grameen families have always proved to be bettereducated than others.
Grameen Efforts in Child Education In the 1980s Grameen Bank started a center school program to prepare its borrowers’ children for primary school. Borrowers opened child-welfare funds at their centers to pay for expenses of these schools. The program was expanded in many areas of the country, benefiting thousands of children every year. As the program expended, necessity for a special institution to deal with education was felt.
Foundation of Grameen ShikkhaIn 1997 Professor Yunus established Grameen Shikkha (Education).Its objectives were:• To promote mass education through formal and non-formal methods.• To organize facilities for education and training.• To promote new and appropriate technologies such as satellite, Internet, distance learning methods etc. as well as innovate ideas and methods for development of education.• To conduct research and undertake experimentation in the field of education.
Life Oriented Education ProgramThis was a one-year basic literacy program for illiterate GrameenBank women borrowers and their teenage daughters, providingreading, writing, calculation and life oriented skills to its beneficiaries.Vocational training was also provided to some of them.
Early Childhood Development (ECD) ProgramGrameen Shikkha started this program in 2001.This program comprised pre-schools, ECD advocacy and ECD care givingtraining.By 2010, Shikkha had trained more than 100,000 students at its pre-schools. All of them were registered in primary school. Another 13,000 arereceiving training in 2011.
ECD Program...Besides pre-academics, the pre-school curriculum includes activitiesfor cognitive, language, social, emotional and self-actualizationdevelopment through different physical and psychologicalstimulations like play, rhymes, singing etc.
Grameen Shikkha Scholarship Management ProgramIn 2003 Grameen Shikkhastarted a scholarshipmanagement program to providefinancial support to poormeritorious students especially inrural areas of Bangladesh on life-long basis (until completion ofstudies).
How to Sponsor A Student By entrusting an amount of Tk. 100,000 (US$1,500) or its multiple with Grameen Shikkha, any individual or institution may start a scholarship of 500 taka or its multiple per month for a poor student. The deposit is invested by GS and scholarship is provided out of its income, keeping the deposit intact. The sponsor may also start a scholarship program by donating only the scholarship money plus a service charge to Shikkha. Every scholarship program has a name as given by the sponsor and is conducted anywhere and at any educational institution in Bangladesh as chosen by the sponsor. Students are selected, according to criteria set by sponsor, from poor background and with good academic performance. When a scholar finishes his/her studies, a new student replaces him/her.
How SMP is Managed GS takes full responsibility of management of the scholarship. It selects students for sponsors and sends scholarship money to the students through account transfer. It follows up students’ academic progress and informs sponsors about scholar’s progress at least once a year. Publishes news on the program in its own publications and web site.
GS Scholarship Program...Students receivescholarship moneyfrom their local bankbranch throughaccount transfer.More than 3,200students – fromprimary to universitylevel – have so farbeen given support.More than half of the Nobel Laureate and Grameen Shikkha Chairman Prof.scholars are girls. Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Shikkha Managing Director Ms. Nurjahan Begum with some GS scholars
GS Scholarship Program...Currently, 520 students at undergraduate and post graduate level are receivingscholarship from Grameen Shikkha. Subject wise distribution of these scholarsis given below: Medical Engineering Business Others TotalGirl 87 40 42 197 366Boy 16 26 27 85 154Maximum amount for a higher education scholarship is 5,000.00 taka permonth.A higher education scholar receives a maximum of 5,000.00 taka per month asscholarship.
Non-formal Primary Schools for Slum ChildrenIn 2005 Grameen Shikkha started a non-formal primary school program for slumchildren in Dhaka.Organized in one-room schools, theseschools provide basic literacy competenciesto about 600 slum children (20 schoolseach with 30 students) in Dhaka over aperiod of five years.Students receive lessons in native language,simple English and math, environment andsocial responsibilities.
Vocational Training ProgramSince 2008 GS has been conducting a vocational training programfor poor school-dropout young men and women with the objectiveof assisting them find self and wage employment throughvocational skills.
Vocational...Funded by C&A Europe, this centerprovides training on trades likeindustrial sewing, garment machinemechanics, electrical & electroniccontrol, electronics &telecommunications, computerapplications, mobile phone servicing,solar home system management etc.and has so far trained about 1,500young men and women.Shikkha has also trained workers ofGrameen Shamogree (Products) andGrameen Shakti (Energy) andconducted temporary training centersin some areas of Bangladesh.
GS VTP : An Update Trade wise graduation as on September 2011: Boy Girl TotalElectrical & electronic control 100 0 100Elec. house wiring/fan motor rewinding 47 0 47Electronics 87 2 89Industrial sewing 81 98 179Dressmaking & tailoring 17 147 164Solar 154 0 154Mobile phone servicing 164 0 164Garment machine mechanics 85 0 85Computer applications & Internet 347 192 539Computer hardware 7 0 7Graphics 5 3 8Total: 1,094 442 1,536
Higher Education Loan Program of Grameen BankIn 1997 Grameen Bank started a Higher Education Loan Program for itsborrowers’ children on very easy terms: no interest during studies,repayment in small installments after completion of studies, and only 5%interest charged after completion of studies.Till September 2011, a total of 49,459 students were given $35.52 millionunder this loan. Of these students, 11,289 were girls.
Grameen Bank Scholarship ProgramGrameen Bank also has a scholarship program for its borrowers’children. Every year nearly 27 thousand scholarships are disbursed.50% of these scholarships are reserved for girls.Till September 2011, a total of 132,978 students received $3.00million as scholarship. 77,463 of these scholars were girls.
Foreign Scholarship for Grameen Bank Borrowers’ ChildrenGrameen Bank is also arrangingscholarships for its borrowers’children to study abroad and hasdeveloped cooperation with someinternational institutions / universitieslike:• Ewha Women University, Seoul.• Asian University for Women, Bangladesh.• Yayasan Khazanah Foundation, Malaysia. Professor Muhammad Yunus withMore than 40 students are now Grameen scholars studying abroadstudying abroad with full scholarship.
New Entrepreneur Loan for Grameen Bank ChildrenTo facilitate self-employment of Grameen borrowers’ children who havecompleted higher education, Grameen Bank also started this loan scheme.Motto behind this loan program is self-employment: We will never askanyone for a job; we will rather create job for others.Till September 2011 more than $1.00 million was disbursed under thisprogram.
New Entrepreneur Loan...Beneficiaries may take loans for any income generational work. Someof schemes under this program are setting up of education center,computer center, mobile phone sales and service center, pharmacy,departmental store, cattle farm, apiculture, fish and shrimp cultivation,sewing machine, poultry feed etc.
ConclusionIn a poor country like Bangladesh, higher education is often amere dream for a poor child. But Grameen has not only made thisdream a reality for thousands of poor children, it has also addednew dimensions to its education program through education loansand arranging of scholarships at renowned universities abroad.Grameen’s education program is helping thousands of poorstudents in enlightening their lives and removing illiteracy andpoverty from the lives from the lives of themselves and theirfamilies.