Childrens right to education: Removing obstacles
Lipi, Mili, Rekha and Manik are third graders at Tulatuli Government Primary School in Olipura union of Raipura upazila in Narsingdi.
Their parents are illiterate -- mothers are housewives and fathers farmers -- but are aware about their children's right to education.
Although the children showed keen interest in learning, their teachers noticed that they were weak in arithmetic. They did not perform well in written tests in their class.
During a survey, a volunteer of Dhaka Ahsania Mission (DAM) identified them as low achiever learners. The survey was conducted as part of a DAM innovated project, Bikash or Community Learning Action Project (CLAP). It aimed at improving primary education qualitatively by establishing a child-friendly learning community. Plan Bangladesh is funding the project. Under the project, arrangements were made to take extra classes after school hours by establishing learning camps for slow learners. The children attended the camps regularly for several months where foundation, self-learning and enrichment courses were conducted. Ultimately, the extra toil proved to be rewarding for them. Once the children who could not do simple arithmetic now excel in their class.
DAM promotes education as a basic human right and fundamental to the fight for human dignity and freedom. With the principle, Bikash was launched in July 2005 to remove obstacles from children's right to education.
The project is now being implemented in 17 unions of three upazilas in three districts.
About 9,768 mothers and children are direct beneficiaries of the project which will continue till June 2008.
Besides learning camps, other key activities of Bikash are as follows: Parenting programme on child rearing practice, creating home-based early learning opportunity for children of 3 to 5 years old through Shishu Bikash Kendra (SBK), organising pre-school centres at the joint initiative of the community and the school, organising Sopan tutorial course through which all children of class 1 and 2 are given additional teaching support after or before school hours with active participation of the community, teachers skill development programme, establishing central resource centre, networking and advocacy with upazila resource centre, establishing regional resource centre and documentation and dissemination of best practices.
Mrittunjoy Das, Headmaster of Tulatuli Government Primary School said, about 125 under-privileged children got admitted to his school availing the benefits of the project. 'In the meantime, the children won the hearts of their teachers by becoming top achievers in the class', he said and expressed his optimism that the project beneficiaries will achieve greater success in the coming days.
The writer is working as Sub-editor of The Daily Star.