Edtech transforms school experience for poor kids

Edtech startup raises $1.3 million; Government hands out $53 million in cash assistance to those affected by latest lockdown; World Bank provides $50 million through Wage Earners Welfare Board to help returning migrant workers faced with unemployment.

The economy is recovering with exports in the first 11 months of FY2021 growing by 13.6% year on year.

Government appoints Dr Shamsul Alam as State Minister for Planning to expedite infrastructure projects.

A weekly round up of articles about work, employment, social security, business and the economy. This week’s round up comes from The Daily Star. Here is the news for the week ending:

29th July 2021

This week in Bangladesh…

New edtech emerges as schools remain closed (Image Ahmed Hasan/Unsplash)

Edtech startup raises $1.3 million; Government assists poorest hit by latest lockdown and World Bank supports project for returning migrant workers facing unemployment. Economy recovers with exports growing by 13.6 per cent on last year, but new Covid waves signal economic doubts.

News in Bangladesh for the week ending 29th July 2021

Affordable Online Learning for Students

Shikho – a local edtech startup – has raised $1.3 million in seed money.

Shikho makes learning engaging and effective and is aimed at students of classes 9 to 12.

As an experienced teacher, I understand the importance of personalised instruction and differentiated learning. This combined with regular feedback are the most powerful tools a teacher has at their disposal

Zeeshan Zakaria, co-founder and COO of Shikho

Schools, colleges and universities have remained closed for 15 months.

The Bangladesh market for edtech is huge. There are 117 million internet users and 40 per cent of mobile phone users have smartphones

Half of the 165 million people in Bangladesh are below the age of 25, said Shahir Chowdhury, co-founder and CEO of Shikho

Social assistance for latest lockdown

Earlier this month the government announced social assistance for those affected by the latest strict lockdown.

Now the government has just handed out cash assistance totalling 4.5 billion Taka (about US$53 million).

The assistance went to around 1.7 million day labourers, transport workers, and small traders.

This is part of its recent announcement of a 32 billion Taka (about US$ 376 million) relief package for the ultra-poor and destitute.

Open Market Stores in urban areas will also sell subsidised food. And District Commissioners will allocate food assistance in rural areas through the district administration offices.

Help for returning migrant workers

The Government will give 200,000 migrant workers 13,500 Taka (about US$160).

About 500,000 expatriate workers had to return to Bangladesh during the pandemic.

The Brac Migration Programme says nearly half of all returning migrants workers has no income.

The World Bank is supporting this fund with US$50 million. The Wage Earners Welfare Board will implement the project from 2021 to 2023.

Read more here

Business, Trade and the Economy

Business, Trade and the Economy

The Bangladesh economy is recovering with exports in the first 11 months of FY2021 (ended 30 June 2021) growing by 13.6% year on year and remittances by 39.5%.

In the first 10 months, National Board of Revenue collections grew by 12.9% year on year.

However, restrictions from early April to combat a second pandemic wave have since disrupted business.

Asian Development Outlook Supplement July 2021

Last week we reported concerns about the latest lockdown harming the recovery in the exports sector.

Dr Shamsul Alam new State Minister for Planning

Bangladesh has over US$51 billion in foreign aid commitments. But over the last four years Bangladesh has not disbursed more than 18 per cent of annual commitments.

Slow progress means projects – mostly for infrastructure – never finish on time. Delays come from issues over land acquisition, inefficient tendering for goods and services, and frequent changes of project directors.

On the other hand the Ministry of Agriculture reported disbursing 98 per cent of its development budget across 85 projects in FY2021. This is in the face of the challenges of the pandemic, floods and cyclones.

This month Government appointed Dr Shamsul Alam to State Minister for Planning with a mandate to expedite project implementation.

Company news

Unilever Consumer Care recorded an 8 per cent rise in sales to 896 million Taka (about US$10.5 million).

But profits on sales fell by 26 per cent to 100 million Taka (about US$1.2 million).

Unilever Consumer Care is the business formerly known as GlaxoSmithKline.

Covid Headlines

Covid Headlines

20,000 cumulative Covid deaths crossed this week

1,200,000 cumulative cases crossed this week

30 per cent test positivity rate reported on 28 July

23 July 6am: new two week strict lockdown began

Government announces 10 million people to be vaccinated each month

Government anticipates 210 million doses to arrive by beginning of next year bring 80 per cent of population under vaccination

Other news