Medical &Health

Education enlightens coastal children

DHAKA- The size of the national flag is well-memorised by Ruma. Not only Ruma, all of 30 students of Education Support Centre of Naler Char under Hatia upazila in Noakhali now know answers of these questions. The children, who are equally expert on dance, song, rhyme and poetry, read in class one and dream of pursuing higher education.

Ruma's dream is becoming a teacher as the area lacks teachers. Due to this shortage, Ruma's brothers-sisters and friends are being deprived of education.

Ruma said after completing education in this school, she will study at Hatia College. Then she would take teaching as her profession after returning to village.

Rubel wants to be a doctor after studying at Dhaka Medical College as doctors are not available in the area. Many local children suffer from diseases, but they receive a little treatment. So Rubel's aim is to become a physician. Salma dreams of becoming a journalist because journalists save life by alerting the people through community radio if storms-cyclones hit the coastal area.

Shahina Begum, a teacher of Education Support Centre, said the centre is running with the students of class Play, One and Two.

According to Palli Karma Sahayak Foundation (PKSF), the organisation has been working for the development of 85,000 families in 17 districts including haor and coastal areas to check dropout of the children and enlighten them in education.

They are working for inclusive development through non-government

development organisations. This programme is being run as a "supportive programme" to achieve sustainable development goals (SDGs).

PKSF Deputy Managing Director Dr Md. Jashim Uddin said the rate of dropout students in remote areas was 12 percent when the programme was launched in 2012. But, the rate declined to 0.5 percent after five years meaning that one student drops out among 200 students. As many as 4500 children are getting education through 150 education support centres of four coastal unions.

Shahina Begum said the children appear in the support centres after the closing of the school. They take lesson on national anthem, physical exercise, moral education, Bengali, English and mathematics. The interest of the local people in these centres is much more. Illiterate and ultra poor parents are becoming aware of sending their children to school instead of earning through them.

She also said all teachers are imparted two-day training for teaching in these schools so that they make education joyful before the children and check dropout.

Visiting No. 1 ward of Nijhum Dwip, the children up to class 5 are studying in this centre. Shahnaj, Akhi, Raquib -- all expressed their desire to pursue higher education. Though there are two primary schools and only junior high school (up to class eight).

Raquib said he didn't feel so good earlier after reading books. But now he goes to school every day as he enjoys study. And Asma administers oath to others every day.

Though Munir, Hossain and Raquib got scope for studying at school, class four student of the centre didn't get that opportunity. Amir Ali, a guardian of the area, said the number of school in the locality is very inadequate in comparison to the children.

Md Rafiqul Alam, executive director of Dwip Unnayon Sangstha, a non-

government organisation, said currently they are running 90 education support centres. A child needs 12 years to complete study up to class five. Ultra poor island people consider the children aged 12 years are capable of earning. So they engage such children in work. He said working in shrimp enclosures is the main profession of the children in the area.

These children earn Tk 30 to Tk 100 by catching shrimp fry. Many children go to fishing boats. Facing such hurdles, the children of char areas started studying in schools, Alam remarked.

PKSF Deputy Managing Director Dr Jashim Uddin said the foundation has been running "Samriddhi" programme cantering the coordinated development. There are 5,200 education support centres across the country. Of them, 150 are in coastal areas. Thirty students are enrolled in the every centre.

He thinks that the quality of education would be reduced if more students are admitted to such centres. "We have been able to bring down dropout rate .5 percent from 12 percent in the area," Dr Jashim said.

In this connection, PKSF Chairman Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad said: "We don't let any child to be dropped out. There is no favourable environment to study at home of these children."

He said such children can't take lesson properly in their class. They leave the school feeling shame after being failed to do homework every day. So support centres prepare school lessons for the children and that's why they secure top 10 positions in their class.

Dr Ahmed said this programme was launched in 21 unions on experimental basis and currently it is running in 150 unions. "All children will be brought under the programme gradually," he said.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)