English in Schools (EIS), a joint initiative of The Daily Star and Robi, began in January 2014 with an aim to generate interest in learning English among school students. From then, the project was carried out in more than 100 schools in four divisions: Rajshahi, Khulna, Sylhet and Chittagong. Once the event activation and teachers' training ended, the final round began in August in Rajshahi and concluded last Friday in Chittagong.
This year's edition of EIS wrapped up with the finale of its Chittagong Divisional Round held at Khawja Ajmeri KG and High School in the Port City. Nearly 500 students from 24 schools in the city participated in the programme.
The finale was divided into two segments: the exam was held in the morning and the cultural programme and prize-giving ceremony were held in the afternoon. Students sat for an MCQ test, which included questions on basic grammar, sentence structure, sentence completion and a separate listening test. Later in the evening, a cultural programme took place at the premises of the school. Students from participating schools performed dances, songs and entertained the audience.
Following the cultural programme, when the names of the winners were being announced, the excitement of the students knew no bound. Winners came to the stage one by one and received a medal and a certificate each for their outstanding performance. Silver Bells Girls' High School of the city won the title, while Dr. Khastagir Government Girls' High School and Chittagong Government High School became the first and second runner up respectively. Each of the winning schools received a bundle of English books worth taka 10,000.
Zobeda Rahman, a teacher of the winning school said, “EIS was a good experience for us. We explained to our students its purpose and provided them the pages that EIS offered us. We trained our students by taking weekly tests based on the EIS pages which came every week with The Daily Star. After the end of each month, we held one special test. After a rigorous process of screening, we selected five students from among 75 to participate in the final round.”
Tazin from Chittagong University Laboratory School, who become first in class IX, said, “I think the page can help students learn English better. I like the page a lot and I believe this type of programme can encourage us.”
Maruf Morshed, a contestant from Chittagong Collegiate School said, “Our class teachers informed us about the competition. Though I did not read the weekly page, I have come here to participate. I am enjoying the competition.”
A guardian, who was accompanying his son, said, “These kind of programmes encourage children to learn English in a fun and interesting way. Many students are here which, I think, can promote a healthy competitive environment.”
Sohel Ahmed, Manager of Robi, Chittagong Region, said, “Nearly 1000 schools were benefited through EIS. I think this initiative can play an important role in helping students learn English as a second language. Apart from this initiative Robi always stands for good cause. We are helping the government in implementing their 'Digital Bangladesh' concept through different projects and fast internet. I call upon students to learn English properly and groom themselves for a better and brighter future.”
Professor Anwarul Azim Arif, Vice Chancellor of Chittagong University, said, “We give you a lot of importance since you are the future of the country. Bangladesh is rapidly developing and we can overcome many difficulties through turning knowledge into power. We are advancing in the fields of education, economy and women's empowerment.”
Dr. Salehuddin Ahmed, Managing Editor of The Daily Star, thanked the participants, teachers and guardians for their efforts. He also said that there's tremendous importance of learning a language. Everyone should learn a second and even a third language.
Aziz Uddin, Deputy Director of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board, Chittagong Division; Mahfuzul Bari Chowdhury, consultant of EIS and Shireen Hasan, content provider of EIS page, also addressed the prize giving ceremony.