Behind the scenes
A Clerk's Initiative in Educating Children
Rabindranath Tagore, in his skit 'Testing the Student', had written that a pupil is ever ready to learn, but it depends on the teacher what is taught and retained by the learner ultimately. Sheikh Rasel Ahmed is a rare human being, who provides free coaching children after school only so that those interested in education have a chance to excel.
Sheikh Rasel Ahmed is the center of discussion in the area he lives in. Although he is only clerk at Baliadanga Secondary School, he has taken up the initiative in coaching weak students from the area and neighboring villages. More than 75 students are seen receiving free classes on weekdays starting after the Maghrib prayers up until late night.
Rasel joined the secondary school situated in Kaliganj Upazila in Jhenidah back in October 2010. Since his appointment as the school clerk, he noticed that students appearing for their Junior Scholarship Certificate (JSC) exams had done extremely poorly. Most of the examinees had failed in three or four subjects each. Most people in this kind of a situation would just carry on with their daily lives not giving a second thought. A few would step up to make sure that these children were doing better in the future, but not without payment. But most of the children of the school cannot afford to pay for private tuition. Rasel's initiative is not only rare but is one of the most commendable of acts that a person could have taken up. He labours at the school since dawn, and then makes sure that the weaker students get a chance to compete amongst themselves for their own good. And he does it absolutely for free.
The coaching center houses more than 75 students every night from different schools in the Upazila. Students from Banuria secondary school, Baro Shimla secondary school, and Baliadanga Dakhil Madrasa attend the night classes on a regular basis. Rasel supervises and teaches these children with the help of seven other teachers- Fariduzzaman, Sirajul Islam, Torab Ali, Israil Hossain, Rasheda pervin, Limon Hossain and Razu Ahmed- two of whom are from the Baliadanga secondary school, while the rest are unemployed. These teachers have followed into Rasel's footsteps and have taken up his initiative as their own.
Classroom environment at Baliadanga secondary school.
School hours end at 2pm everyday, at which time the students head off to home to have lunch. They swarm back during the Asr prayers. They take to the school field with various activities and sports till Maghrib prayers. Books and lessons come out right as darkness falls over the horizon, and rigorous studies begin to commence till before midnight. The effort put forward by the tutors under Rasel's initiative has ensured that 24 out of 27 JSC students this year have passed doing well in their exams. The statistic itself goes to show the exemplary work that is being done at this rural school by Rasel.
Mohammed Mobarak Hossain, a student of grade eight from Baliadanga Secondary School says he is grateful for the extra coaching he receives. His parents being uneducated cannot help him with his studies, and thus he has nothing else to do but go to sleep every night when at home. But, the environment at the school enables him to pay more attention to his education while he is with the other students at the school during the nights. Mobarak says that the teachers have helped him with all his studies and he is doing much better in school as a result.
Grade nine student Mohammed Shakil Ahmed of the same school said, “Studying at home is difficult because of many different chores that I have take care of. Other than that, there is no proper discipline at home regarding studies. Most of my time is wasted watching TV when I have no chores to attend to. But the teachers guide me while I am at coaching, and there is no scope for my time to be wasted.”
Rabiul Islam earns Tk. 145 every Friday working at a construction site. The grade eight student of the school bears his own educational costs, as his parents are unable to do so for poverty. He says, “The coaching center is providing a great service to the poor and helpless students. Poor students from the surrounding areas will be greatly benefited in the future, as they are being now in the present, if this initiative continues.”
Among the guardians, Gagan Biswas from Gopinathpur said, “This is definitely a very noble initiative. Rasel should be assisted by the government to expand his mission in providing free education to the poor and helpless.”
Guardian Rafikur Rahman from Trilochonpur village said, “We admire Rasel for this ordeal and noble initiative. All of us should extend our help towards him for his untiring labour after school hours.”
Sheikh Rasel himself told the writer, “I want to impart knowledge unto the poor and helpless students from the remote areas. Most of these students can't study for the lack of money. I want to help them realize their latent talents so that they can become self reliant. I do this for free as I personally know what it feels like to be from a poor background. I never received any such help from anyone, and I don't want these children to suffer the same fate.”
Baliadanga secondary school headmaster Nritya Gopal Sarkar said that ever since Rasel joined the school and had taken up this initiative, overall results at the school were improving at a steady pace. He is happy with the progress that the students are making.
Upazila secondary education officer Abdul Bari said, “Rasel's efforts are commendable. Poor students from each Upazila can receive free education, if only energetic people and teachers follow Rasel's example.”
(R) thedailystar.net 2011