The history of UCEP- Bangladesh traces back to Mr. Lindsay Allan Cheyne, a philanthropist from New Zealand. Mr. Cheyne visited Bangladesh in 1970 on a British relief mission to run a mother and child health clinic for the of tornado-affected people from Bangladesh’s south-eastern part. Soon after the clinic’s establishment in 1971, the liberation war broke out in Bangladesh. The destruction in the wake of the tornado paled beside the tragedy of human misery left by the war. The new nation faced ever-greater crisis than before. Along with relief operation, Cheyne worked with the Directorate of Social Welfare and outlined an educational program for underprivileged, homeless, and poor children.
Eventually, the Danish government extended generous financial assistance to launch a 3-year project. The Bangladesh government provided a building to house the program. Mention should be made that a research by Professor Ahmadullah Miah from the Institute of Social Welfare under Dhaka University influenced the thoughts and initiatives behind UCEP. UCEP was created in 1972 as an international non- governmental organization.
Initially, UCEP worked with the concept of "community schools" to provide alternative schooling opportunity to working children from slums and street children. The project’s initial experience was highly encouraging as to the outcome of special schooling arrangement and response from slum and street children. The concept of "non-formal education" has since been gradually grounded in UCEP as an effective approach to improving the condition of the poor out-of-school children belonging to an 'especially disadvantaged group'.
In order to make UCEP approach more useful and effective, skills training opportunities were added to UCEP's general education in 1983 with the establishment of one Technical School in Dhaka. By then, UCEP's general education program had been expanded to Chittagong and Khulna cities.
Mr. Cheyne died in 1985, UCEP was reorganized in 1988 and got itself registered as a national NGO under the Voluntary Social Welfare (Registration and Control) Ordinance, 1961. Since that time onward UCEP has been governed by a group of volunteers who constitute the UCEP Association.
Mr. Cheyne also had expanded UCEP in Nepal in 1978. However, UCEP Bangladesh and UCEP Nepal operate as separate organizations with separate governance and management structure. The only relation between the two countries remains around shared-learning through exchange visits and meetings.