At least 2000 kids in the district are now getting access to quality primary education in a child-friendly atmosphere, thanks to a Unicef project taken in Kaptai Lake area.
With an objective to increase access to better primary education as well as learning opportunities for the children in remote areas of Kaptai, Unicef is implementing the project.
Twenty-one government primary schools in three upazilas — Rangamati Sadar, Bilaichhari and Barkal — of the district have been brought under the project titled ‘Child Friendly School for the Children of Kaptai Lake Area, Rangamati’.
The project helps reduce the dropout rates because those who can not reach the schools due to lack of engine boats in the lake areas can now use Unicef supplied shuttle boats with life jackets.
Consultant of Unicef, Rangamati office Rita Chakma said, 15 schools in Sadar upazila and three each in Bilaichhari and Barkal upazilas have been brought under the five-year project (2012-16) launched in December last year.
Moreover, adolescent boys and girls in the project areas will also be benefited due to improved access to information and technology through resource centres set up in schools.
A desktop computer with an Internet modem, a solar module, a bookshelf, almirah and some technical books have been provided in the resource centres.
A man will be employed to run the centre, said Rita Chakma, the consultant of Unicef.
Special training on swimming is also being provided to the kids so that they can swim across the lake in case of any accident during the journey to the school.
Alongside these activities, during implementation of the project the existing school buildings will be renovated and repaired to ensure hundred percent attendance at schools.
Alpona Chakma, a guardian in Balukhali village, said “I am very happy about the unique steps taken by Unicef, particularly about the shuttle boat and swimming training to the kids.”
“Earlier, my grandson couldn’t attend classes regularly due to scarcity of dinghy boat,” she said.
“When we go to our workplaces, our kids cannot go to school as we have only one boat like many other families. Now my kid’s can reach school with the help of shuttle boat,” said Niva Rani Chakma, another guardian at Gurgojjyachhari.
Mita Chakma, a teacher of Golachhari Government Primary School, said many students from far-flung areas were now coming to schools by the engine boat supplied by the Unicef.
Earlier, they often faced problem due to lack of sufficient dinghy boats, she said.
While visiting a school in the area, this correspondent found the students coming to schools spontaneously by shuttle boats. Some students were seen swimming as part of swimming training in the Kaptai Lake.
“I can swim now in the river and I am capable of crossing the lake quite confidently,” said a beaming Biswajit Chakma, a student of playgroup at Boradom Primary School.
Chairman of Rangamati Hill District Council Nikhil Kumar Chakma said, “We have a plan to expand this project in other areas.”