Children and Women Centers of Jhenidah
Shamima Akter teaching the alphabets to her group of children
Illiteracy and high unemployment rates among women are two predominant social ailments facing Bangladesh. For years, both the government and non-government sectors have focused concentrated efforts towards overcoming these challenges and although progress is being made, it has been a slow, uphill struggle. But a group of people in Jhenidah has hit upon an idea they think might just kill both the proverbial birds with the single proverbial stone.
840 children under the age of five are being provided pre-primary education in 28 child and women centers around Jhenidah, by a group of previously unemployed women. The 28 shishu and women centers are distributed throughout Jhenidah: 12 are in Jhenidah sadar upazila, 5 in Shailokupa upazila, 4 in Harinakundo, 1 in Moheshpur and 6 in Kaliganj. While this is perhaps not a novel new concept in Bangladesh, the scale and scope is.
While visiting a center at Helai village under Kaliganj upazila this correspondent found a group 30 well-disciplined children singing chara gaan (sung rhymes) and song of independence, and receiving lessons in general etiquette. Shamima Aktar, 42, was busy teaching the little children in the small but well-kept room.
Shamima said that she starts her classes with very simple lessons, teaching the children names of objects, and slowly introduces the alphabets. There is also chara gaan, acting, songs of independence and dance, to make sure the children are as much entertained as enlightened. Classes start from 10:00 am and runs till 12:00 pm.
Action in Development (AID) is the organization that is responsible for starting this initiative. Kanchan Mala Kaliganj, upazila coordinator of AID said, “AID provides teaching materials for the children, and pay the wages of the teachers. The lessons are interactive and fun, and we are generally able to attract a large group of students”.
Nasir Uddin, area coordinator of Action In Development (AID), told Star Insight that the objective of this programme is to provide pre-primary education to the children under 5. From infancy, the young minds will be shaped with discipline and decorum”. Sounds like a plan.
(R) thedailystar.net 2009