As Bangladesh tries to rise above the poverty line, people from the low income brackets struggle to make ends meet. Naturally, there is very little opportunity for their children to receive formal education. According to a UNICEF report (2007-2010), the net enrolment ratio of primary school male students is 86 percent while for females it is 93 percent. By the time they reach secondary school, the numbers drastically fall to 40 percent for males and 43 percent for females. The reasons are obvious; while some children help take care of their siblings at home, others work in dumpsters or as helpers in local markets to earn a living. Only 20 percent of students from urban slums attend school. In addition to this, the student teacher ratio does not look bright either. Given that there is a disparity, a breakthrough is much needed which can be brought about through investing in dynamic future leaders who can work across various sectors and make sure that every child in Bangladesh receives education.
Teach For Bangladesh, a leadership programme, has embarked on its journey to remove social and economic barriers. The project chooses graduates and young professionals from diverse backgrounds, with both academic and leadership achievements, who can bring a change to the society.
“In college, I joined as a Corps Member for Teach For America to end educational inequity in the United States,” says Maimuna Ahmad, Founder and CEO of Teach For Bangladesh. “I found that the average Black student was two or three years behind the average white student.
My experience as a secondary school mathematics teacher in southeast Washington DC transformed me and inspired me to become who I am today.”
According to their website, www.teachforbangladesh.org, Teach For Bangladesh is partnered with Teach For All -- a global education network, comprised of independent social enterprises, that works on the understanding that although cultures and contexts may differ, the basic nature of education inequity is similar around the world. Teach For Bangladesh is the 27th country to join this global movement. In addition, BRAC, a leading development organisation, and MGH group, a conglomerate with various industries, are also partners of Teach For Bangladesh. The world's largest temporary power generation company, Aggreko is also one of their partners.
Recruiting fellows is a long process. “Campus ambassadors are placed in different universities of the country, to help scout fellows on the basis of their merit and talent,” says Shafquat Huq, a student of North South University and a Campus Ambassador. According to Maimuna Ahmad, Founder and CEO of Teach For Bangladesh, after the candidates have applied online, if the team of recruiters find them suitable, they are invited to a telephone interview. In the last phase of screening, they go through a day-long assessment centre where a number of activities are conducted. “After successfully completing this process, the fellows are trained in the training Academy outside Dhaka for a period of 6 weeks,” she adds. “Here, they learn about the curriculum they will have to teach, how to manage a class and the students, make lesson plans, how to build relations with parents.”
The fellows also teach underprivileged students for half a day, as part of their training programme, Maimuna adds. Two to three fellows are then placed in schools -- Jaago Foundation, BRAC schools and a few government schools for two years, where they will teach English, mathematics and science. These fellows are deliberately grouped in this manner so that there is a sense of partnership amongst the peers. The Teach For Bangladesh also has a leadership development team, which is solely dedicated to provide support to its fellows. A group of 10-12 fellows are assigned to a Leadership Development Officer (LDO) who is responsible for conducting workshops and training sessions.
Teach For Bangladesh also conducts a curriculum analysis to see the strengths and weaknesses present in the existing curriculum. Traditionally, most of our syllabi are designed in a way which facilitates rote learning. “Recently, the government has introduced a revised curriculum which promotes interactive learning,” explains Maimuna. “Teach For Bangladesh aims at making education innovative, active and engaging.”
“Teach For Bangladesh is a platform which will enable me to make a difference,” says Zarifa Zakaria, a Master's student of Educational Psychology at Dhaka University and also a selected fellow for Teach For Bangladesh leadership programme. “It is certainly not an easy job as I will have to teach more than 50 students who belong to underprivileged families. Each of them will require my undivided attention and I am ready to take it up as a challenge.”
Dynamic in nature, the Teach For Bangladesh model also draws attention to its alumni. According to Maimuna Ahmad, the alumni can create a body of leaders who would be able to solve educational inequity in our country. For example, the alumni can help out the various street schools that operate in the country. These leaders can also work for the movement of change, by having a lasting impact on every segment of our society - business, government, development, policy, etc.
Through Teach For All, some of the top universities are now providing support to Teach For Bangladesh. According to the website, starting from offering admissions deferrals, assisting with loans and scholarships, to recognising Teach For Bangladesh as valid work experience, students are being benefited in numerous ways.
If you believe that you too can make a change and help build the future of our country, join Teach For Bangladesh by becoming livelong advocates for their cause. The final deadline for application is June 7, 2013.
How to apply:
1. Go to www.teachforbangladesh.org .
2. Click on 'Apply'.
3. Fill out the Registration of Interest Form.
4. June 7, 2013 -- Final application deadline.