By Anwar Rosen
DHAKA, May 16, 2017 (BSS)-Physical disabilities, poverty and various social impediments could not stop Raihan, Pritom and Bristi to achieve their goals, thanks to the education stipend introduced by the government for physically challenged students.
The three energetic, hard working and visionary students have emerged as iconic characters and inspirations for the young people by continuing their studies, leaving behind the legacy of abject poverty and their physical disabilities, with support of the stipend, introduced nine years ago.
Raihan Mia ((22), a final year student of Pakundia Degree College in
Kishoreganj district, became physically disabled at the age of one year and six months after suffering from polio.
He lost his father prior to his school secondary examinations. Fourth among his six brothers and sisters, Raihan passed SSC in 2009 and later admitted into Jangalia High School and College.
He had to continue his studies and run his family as well with his little earnings which came from his private tuition. His fate started changing when the government introduced education stipend programme for the physically challenged students in 2010.
"It was impossible for me to continue my studies and run my family if I could not get the stipend," said Raihan.
Physically challenged Pritom Chandra Pal, a class five student of
Government Science College and High School, has been grown up in a poverty-stricken family with immature fingers both of his hands and legs.
His father used to work in a medicine store. His father admitted Pritom into the school since he has no financial ability to get his kid admit into specialized educational institutions set up for the physically challenged children.
As a result of his financial constraints, Pritom's father Samir Chandra Pal, contacted the social welfare department and included his son in the education stipend progarmme. Pritom is now getting Taka 500 monthly as education stipend from the government to continue his studies. Now, he is not worried about his studies. Bristi Aktar, an ill-fated teenager, lost her right hand as her father at one stage of anger hacked her by a machete when she was 14 years old.
Her ill-tempered father later divorced Bristi's mother and tied knot with another woman. Then the courageous Briti took a vow to continue her study for minimizing sufferings of her mother.
But, her mother had no ability to admit her into school due to financial crisis. When the government introduced the stipend for the disabled children, she (Bristi) got admitted into the school to materialize her dream of establishing herself in society.
Now, she is a class 10 student of Hosenpur Pilot Girls High School. Under the government's education stipend programme, she is now getting Taka 600 per month to meet her educational expenses.
"We are happy with the results of Bristi since she is doing well in her examinations like other physically-sound students despite her physical disabilities, said Zinnat Aktar, headmistress of Hosenpur Pilot Girls High School.
Like Bristi, Raihan and Pritom, the government's education stipend
programme has been playing an important role in establishing rights and implementing dreams of hundreds of physically challenged, poor, distressed children and youths across the country.
The programme was launched to establish constitutional rights of the poor and physically challenged children and youths. Initially, 12, 209 physically disabled students have been brought under the programme through the government's Social Welfare Department.
According to Social Welfare Department, a total of 13,000 students were benefitted by the programme in 2008-2009 financial year when annual allocation for the project was Taka six crore.
In 2016-17 financial year, the number of beneficiaries rose to 70,000 when an allocation of Taka nearly 48 crore was made against the project. Statistic shows that the number of beneficiaries of the project was increased five times during the last nine months when allocation rose to eight times.
Syeda Ferdous Aktar, director of the Education Stipend Programme, said the programmme has been introduced to include the physically challenged youths in the mainstream of society.
"We are conducting a countrywide survey aimed at bringing all physically challenged poor students under the programme," she said adding the number of beneficiaries and allocation in the project would be raised in future to fulfill the objective of the programme.
According to Education Stipend Implementation Policy-2013, the physically challenged students who are studying in government recognized educational institutions and whose average family income maximum Taka 36,000 annually would be primarily selected for the stipend.
According to the policy, the disabled student has to apply to the upazila or district social welfare officer in a prescribed form.
Following scrutiny of the forms, the beneficiaries are selected. Later, the beneficiaries have to open a bank account depositing Taka 10 only in the name of their legitimate guardians to receive the stipend money.
Talking to this correspondent, guardians of the disabled students said that the education stipend for physically challenged students has been playing a pivotal role to provide hassle-free education to the disabled students.
But, they opined to fix the stipend amount considering education expenses in rural and urban areas. The amount in urban areas should be more than that of rural area considering higher cost of education in urban areas.
Mentionably, the amount of education stipend in urban and rural areas is the same.
Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)