A ray of hope for physically challenged children
'Children who learn together, learn to live together' -- this moto is becoming true in the life of the children (students) of Magurdanga Government Primary School in Keshabpur upazila, Jessore. Uzzal, a visuallly and hearing impaired little boy, is the youngest child of a poor fish trader at Magurdanga village in Keshabpur upazila who is also a student of the school. They have no cultivable land. As Uzzal has a problem in eye and ear, his parents remained depressed most of the time. But despite his poor physical condition, they got Uzzal admitted to Class 1 in the school. He was weak in all subjects and there was none to help him in his studies. He did not fare well in examination. However, last year, a meeting was held on the school premises. Dhaka Ahsania Mission (DAM) organised the meeting as they have an on going program for the deprived children to make learning joyful, particularly to the dull students. Uzzal's parents also attended the meeting. They narrated the hopeless situation of their child. Thereafter, Uzzal got the opportunity to get himself admitted in 'Sopan' classes, which is being conducted by DAM.
DAM initiated the 'Community Learning Action Project' named Bikash funded by Plan Bangladesh to bring qualitative change in primary education. The overall objective is to promote children's holistic development in a joyful and child-friendly environment.
Uzzal attended 'Sopan' classes regularly. Classes were held before or after school hours, according to convenience.
At Sopan, teachers taught dull children with love and care. They never rebuked them. Examinations were held every month. The boy learnt many things with the help of DAM innovated educational implements. Every month, his parents attended meetings where they discussed their child's progress. Finally, Uzzal secured pretty good marks in Bangla, English and Mathematics.
Earlier, he hated to go to school. But now, he enjoys schooling. Despite being physically impaired, Uzzal has taken a determination to do much better in the coming days.
Like Uzzal, hundreds of disadvantaged children have been improved through the CLAP or Bikash project. The project is now being implemented in 11 unions of three upazilas in three districts since 2005, said DAM deputy executive director M Ehsanur Rahman. Around 20, 778 children are being benefited under the project, he said.
Bikash organises camp, parenting, child development centre or shishu bikash kendra-SBK and pre-school interventions, said Dipak Roy, senior field manager of DAM regional office at Keshabpur.
Camp is a community based learning programme designed to meet special learning needs of third graders to fifth graders. Parenting is a child rearing practice for mothers and would be mothers. SBK is organised to create home-based early learning opportunity for children of 3 to 5 years. Pre-School is an intervention for children's school preparedness, he said.
Education is a human right, enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention on the Rights of the Child says that all children have the right to a good primary education and should have equal access to secondary education (Article 28). The right to education is a fundamental human right. Every individual, irrespective of race, gender, nationality, ethnic or social origin, religion or political preference, age or disability, is entitled to a free elementary education. This right is explicitly stated in the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), adopted in 1948:
When young people are educated, they are likely to be more aware of their other rights and better able to make sure those rights are respected. Education gives young people choices. When those who are educated go on to have children of their own, they will know how to make sure those children are safe, healthy and happy -- not least by making sure they get an education too. Educated children are better qualified to help bring positive change to their communities and nations.
Ensuring access to education is a precondition for full realisation of the right to education. Without access, it is not possible to guarantee the right to education. Apparently, quality of education is the other side of coin.
Bangladesh is still facing severe deficiencies in the quality of education.
The Bangladesh Education Commission Report of the Government of Bangladesh declared in 1974 that “Considering local need in primary schools, pre-primary classes could be established with financial and managerial help of the local community.” Thus the authorities concerned should come forward to bring ray of hope inr the deprived children's life.
The writer is a Sub-Editor of The Daily Star.