DHAKA 8 April 2013:An IDA/World Bank team carried out the eighth implementation support mission from March 20-April 8, 2013 to review the progress of all activities and reach agreement on next steps for achieving the project development objectives. The mission also carried out discussions with relevant stakeholders on the key messages and indicative policy options. The mission comprised Messrs./Mmes: Yoko Nagashima (Sr. Education Specialist, Co-Task Team Leader), Mokhlesur Rahman (Sr. Operations Officer, Co-Task Team Leader), Syed Rashed Al-Zayed (Economist), Hiroshi Saeki (Operations Officer), Asahabur Rahman (Education Policy and Planning Consultant), Rozilini M Fernandez-Chung (Higher Education/Quality Assurance Specialist) Burhanuddin Ahmed (Sr. Financial Management Specialist), Mohammad Reaz Uddin Chowdhury, (FM Specialist), Marghoob Bin Hussein (Sr. Procurement Specialist), Nadia Sharmin (Environmental Specialist, Consultant), Sabah Moyeen (Social Development Analyst), and Syeda Kashfee Ahmed (Consultant).
The mission met with the officials of the Ministry of Education (MoE), UGC, Economic Relations Division, Ministry of Planning and HEQEP Unit including Dr. Kamal Abdul Naser Chowdhury, Secretary; Mr. Iqbal Khan Chowdhury, Additional Secretary (Dev.); Mr Salahuddin Akbar, Additional Secretary (University); Mr. Masud Ahmed, Member, Planning Commission; Mr Arastoo Khan, Additional Secretary, External Resources Division; Prof. Dr. A. K. Azad Chowdhury, Chairman (State Minister), University Grants Commission (UGC); Prof Dr. Atful Hye Shibly, Member, UGC; Prof. Dr. M. Muhibur Rahman, Member, UGC; Prof. Dr. Mohammad Mohabbat Khan, Member, UGC; Prof. Dr. M. Abul Hashem, Member, UGC and Prof. Dr. Md. Akhtar Hossain, Member, UGC.
The mission participated in the two workshops organized by the University Grants Commission and HEQEP Unit on “Development of Quality Assurance Mechanism in Bangladesh” on March 23, 2013 and “Showcasing the Successful AIF sub-projects” on March 30, 2013.
The mission rated “satisfactory” project performance in the areas of achieving development objectives, implementation progress, project management and monitoring & evaluation. The mission has reported to having found strong evidence of project progress against project outcome and intermediate results indicators, such as (i) growing support for the AIF from the academic community as seen in increased participation of public and private universities (27 universities under the first round and 29 under the second round); (ii) UGC has initiated a process for institutionalizing the competitive funding mechanism as scheduled; (iii) increased access to BdREN with 12 percent of students and 18 percent of faculty members having access (compared to 0% at baseline); (iv) targets of the KPIs related to BdREN are likely to be achieved by the end of December 2013; and (v) Digital Library has been established and fully operational in 34 universities.
The overall implementation progress is rated satisfactory. The project has completed almost four years of implementation. The pace of project implementation has been accelerated in a coordinated fashion at central and field levels since the last mission in July 2012. HEQEPU is fully staffed and trained. Implementation of 196 AIF sub-projects has been significantly fast-tracked. Competitive funding mechanism has been institutionalized by MoE/UGC. The project has contributed to change the mindset of academics towards improving the quality and relevance of teaching-learning and research. A study on university admission systems has been completed and shared with stakeholders. As part of capacity building, about 1,500 academics and 120 officials undertook various types of in-country and overseas training. Implementation of BdREN has gained momentum as the key procurement package has been approved by GoB and IDA. Digital Library has been established and operational in 34 universities. HEQEPU provided hands-on support to the universities to enhance their procurement capacity for compliance with the Procurement Act and Guidelines. M&E performance has significantly improved in producing various reports and undertaking field visits and verification surveys.
The next mission is tentatively scheduled for June 2013.