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    Volume 9 Issue 26| June 25, 2010|

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Discovering the Excellence

Elita Karim


The UCEP Programmes mainly aim at improving the socio-economic status of the urban poor and support industrial growth by generating skilled manpower.

Mohammad Jibon Hossain is not yet 19 years old. He spent most of his life growing up as a mechanic's assistant at a local workshop. "I needed to work to support my family and also myself," says Jibon. "When I got enrolled into school, I was still working, but I was happy that at least I was also getting an education." Jibon was lucky to be selected to study and appear for the SSC Vocational Exams at the UCEP - Mirpur Technical School. He studied in Electronics. In fact, he is one of the 60 students who secured top marks in the board this year, achieving a Golden A+. He is one of the 10 students in the institute who will be getting a scholarship to study an Engineering Diploma at the Polytechnic. Jibon now spends his time browsing through books and teaching young students as a private tutor.

Like Jibon, there are 59 other students at the Mirpur Technical School who excelled in their SSC Vocational exams this year, surprising everyone around, not to mention making their teachers proud. "I wish we could provide all our 60 students with the scholarship to the Polytechnic," says Engineer Abdul Mannan, Technical Education Manager. "But we are unable to do so and can afford to fund only 10 students. We are still looking for external resources so that we can fund at least a few more of our students." The lowest grade secured by one girl, amongst the 60 students is an A-, which comes to a GPA of 4.8. "So you see, our students have the ability to stand side by side with students from other schools as well because of their excellent result," says Mannan.

The students who excelled in the SSC vocational exams in 2010.

The UCEP-Mirpur Technical School (DTS - I), Dhaka is one of the many programmes under the Underprivileged Children's Educational Programs, funded by Ukaid from the Department for International Department. Besides the school in Dhaka, there are the UCEP-Mohsin Khulna Technical School (KTS), in Khulna and the UCEP-AK Khan Kalurghat Technical School (CTS-I) in Chittagong. Quite a number of students in the UCEP schools of Khulna and Chittagong have also secured top marks, however the students at UCEP-Mirpur in Dhaka have secured a position in the board.

UCEP-Bangladesh has been working with the distressed urban working children since the early 70s. Back then, the organisation had begun with only 60 students in the Dhaka University premises. Today, the organisation is a hub of over 37 thousand working children striving towards acquiring skills required for the technical sectors in the country. This is being done training them initially in the schools and then arranging for them employments through general education and vocational training in close collaboration with industries and employers throughout Bangladesh. The UCEP Programmes mainly aim at improving the socio-economic status of the urban poor and support industrial growth by generating skilled manpower.

At the primary level schools, or more popularly known as the 'feeder schools', the younger children are taught the basics of a technical work environment from day 1. Along with their verbal, math, writing and reading skills, the younger ones are taught that an 'H' is for a 'hammer', instead of the regular 'house' or a 'horse.' "This is done to build their inclination towards the technical field so that when they grow older, they are well versed with the basics," says EH Khan Majles, Manager, Integrated General and Vocational Education.

The schools in Mirpur under the UCEP Programmes have excellent facilities for students in vocational training.


Despite the fact that the school teaches vocational courses and concentrates on technical courses, there are a lot of female students studying here as well. Around 40% of the students studying technical subjects at the school are female. Aarju Akhtar is one of the students who have secured an A in this year's SSC Vocational Exams. However, she cannot go for an Engineering Diploma at the Polytechnic, since she has not been selected for the scholarship. Aarju has specialised in General Mechanics from the school and is now making a living by stitching and sewing clothes for people. "I would like to go for the Engineering Diploma course, but I won't be able to afford it," she says. Similarly, Moyna Akhtar, yet another student who has secured an A in the SSC Vocational Exams wants to study the Engineering Diploma course at the Polytechnic, however, did not make it in the scholarship selection. She has specialised in Electronics and now makes net bags in a small factory for a living.

Young people securing an A+ and A, like Monjurul Islam, who works at a Police Mess in Rajarbagh as a cook and Mohammad Selim, a rickshaw puller, respectively, are proofs of brilliant talents and excellent skills, created locally. However, these young skills need to be brought out into the economy. This way, Bangladesh will be able to experience a revolution in the technical field, through which the country can also improve in infrastructure.



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