Grievance redressal is recognised worldwide as an important indicator of an institution’s proficiency, efficiency, and trustworthiness. At the government level, grievance redressal is a governance-related management process that helps ensure better public service for citizens. In Bangladesh, the government has instituted the use of the Grievance Redress System (GRS), which is a platform for aggrieved parties to appeal to relevant authorities if they are dissatisfied with public service. The role of GRS is very important in making administrations accountable to citizens, improving the quality of services, and strengthening good governance.
Through Platforms for Dialogue's (P4D) partnerships with government training institutions, government officials have been trained on GRS software and on how to address complaints efficiently and professionally. We have also provided trainings for Civil Society Organisations (CSO) on GRS to teach citizens at the local level how they can access this tool and help ensure better service delivery in their community in the future. Additionally, our Community Resource Centres (CRCs) have welcomed citizens to use their computers and helped them use the online GRS platform. Stories shared by our partners demonstrate the effectiveness of GRS and its positive impact on the community.
Shromokalyan Jubo Pathagar was established by Md. Regan Mia and his cousins in 2010 when they were schoolchildren. The current joint secretary, Md Jamiar Rahman Lion, who was a fifth-grader then, says, “We established the library because we felt the urge to do something for society. However, we did not have any money to buy books and build bookshelves. So, we worked as labourers on our parents’ paddy fields and earned the money to buy books. Our elder cousin Mukta gave us the bamboo we needed to build bookshelves. We then set up our small library in Regan’s room. That is how we began.”
In 2012, Shromokalyan Jubo Pathagar was featured on BTV because of their innovative idea of building portable taps for washing hands. “We simply installed plastic taps on pitchers of water and provided the village dwellers with soaps. Sanitation in our union improved rapidly due to this project along with our awareness campaign.”
The organisation says 2015 was a year of great achievement as they successfully rooted out prostitution, drug peddling, and gambling in the area. UNO Siddikur Rahman was so impressed with their work and dedication that he delegated certain responsibilities to Shromokalyan Jubo Pathagar like arbitration. The UNO would refer to petty cases for arbitration by the civil society organisation.
These successes helped them catch media attention. They have been featured on Channel 1, Channel 9, Jamuna TV, and RTV. Then in 2017, Shromokalyan Jubo Pathagar was ranked 39th among 50 organisations that received the Joy Bangla Youth Award from the Centre for Research and Information (CRI).
These naturally caught the attention of the British Council as well and Shromokalyan Jubo Pathagar was asked to work as a partner CSO for the Platforms for Dialogue (P4D) project although it did not have a government registration. “An official of the P4D project took the initiative to get us registered with the department of social services as it was a pre-requisite,” says Lion. The social action projects (SAPs) that Shromokalyan Jubo Pathagar implemented under the P4D project include better service delivery at community clinics, promoting the government’s Grievance Redress System (GRS) at public offices, and reducing student dropout rates.
Regan Mia led the project on promoting the Grievance Redress System.
“The people did not know how and where to submit complaints. So, we held meetings and discussions with the locals and other stakeholders about GRS. We also installed a complaint box at the Union Council.”
Md. Emam Hossain led the project to improve community clinic service where they mainly raised awareness among local people, especially youth, about the services and functions of the community clinic.
“The community clinic here was relatively functional. We just had to sit with the community group to streamline everything. We mainly worked on raising awareness, because the health and hygiene situation of Garagram Union wasn’t very good.”
“We told young girls about the importance of maintaining healthy practices during their period, and we also told them about the availability of sanitary napkins at the community clinic. The people were also made aware about the services and medicines that are available at the community clinic.”
Md. Golam Mostofa and his team worked on preventing dropouts and counselled 25 students who had dropped out from Khamargram Government Primary School. “We held discussions to find out the causes behind students dropping out of school and then resolved the issues with the help of guardians, teachers, SMC, and local leaders. We gave the students notepads and pens, and we even provided uniforms to 5 students with the help of the union chairman.”
Lion and his cousins are examples of the potential of self-motivated youth. As a continuation of their work, they established Shromokalyan Digital School in 2019. They hope to continue expanding to develop the socio-economic improvement of Gararam.
This publication was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Platforms for Dialogue and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.