Books for Asia in Bangladesh
The Asia Foundation's Books for Asia program has donated books to Bangladesh since 1954 and is the only regular book donation program in the country. Books for Asia has provided more than 2 million books in Bangladesh since the country's independence in 1971.
Status of Education in Bangladesh
Just over half (52.5 percent) of Bangladesh's adult population is literate, including nearly 60 percent of men and nearly 47 percent of women. About 14 percent of government spending is directed toward education. The World Bank estimates that 50 percent of Bangladesh's nearly 154 million citizens live in poverty. English is included in all textbooks in grades one through five. Private schools tend to emphasize English, while government-funded schools tend to emphasize Bengali.
Books for Asia donates more than 50,000 new books annually to approximately 500 institutions in all of Bangladesh's six divisions, including schools, colleges, medical institutes, and public libraries. The program has recently focused on assisting institutions and programs that promote educational opportunities for girls and women. Nongovernmental and governmental organizations include Imams (Muslim religious leaders) participating in The Asia Foundation's Leaders of Influence project and police and community policing groups participating in the Community Oriented Policing program.
Partner and Project Highlights
Girls' Education. In order to close the gender gap in education, Books for Asia Bangladesh aims to reach every girls' school and college in the country. In 2010, BFA distributed nearly 7,000 books and educational material to 60 girls' schools and colleges, which together have a total of 76,710 students. Many of the books were also donated in hard to reach areas of Bangladesh.
Law Books for Bangladesh. An initiative of the International Law Book Facility (UK) and The Asia Foundation, the program donates law books to Bangladeshi organizations providing legal assistance to citizens and to students studying law.
Asian University for Women (AUW). Books for Asia donates books to AUW, a new university established in Chittagong, Bangladesh, whose mission is to educate women from across Asia who aspire to become leaders in their countries.
Pubali Bank Ltd. Through Pubali Bank's (a local private bank) generous support, the cost of two shipments will be covered each year.
Regional Education Boards. Books for Asia has established a very successful working relationship with a number of the country's boards of education, which are responsible for the management of education standard and policies in their district. In Rajshasi, Sylhet, Chittagong, and Khulna, for instance, education board staff lent their time to organize donation events where Books for Asia was able to establish relationships with and directly donate much needed books to 250 new institutions ranging from primary schools to colleges.
Rotary Club of Dhaka. Through Rotary Club chapters throughout Bangladesh, Books for Asia distributes books to children from nursery to fifth-grade level.
Major Publisher Donors: John Wiley & Sons, Pearson, Lynne Rienner, W.W. Norton & Company,
Abrams, and Island Press.
"The Subornogram Foundation is working to educate underprivileged children among the river gypsy, cobbler, and fisherman communities. We dream for a better life for these children through education. Books for Asia stands beside us. They gave us our first donation of books and study materials and showed us how to bring the dream into reality."
—Shahed Kayes, founder, Subornogram Foundation, Bangladesh
"The Asia Foundation helped these institutions to develop their libraries with books, professional journals and with the training of faculty members, which eventually contributed to professional journalism and freedom of the press. Indeed no other agency has done so much for the press as The Asia Foundation."
—Daud Khan Majlis, Consultant to the President of Bangladesh
Books for Asia Coordinator