Underprivileged primary school dropouts in Kalmakanda upazila of Netrakona have found a way back to education through an initiative of seven youths.
The 2017 initiative of “Shahajjer Dakpeon” (helping postman) programme run by these youths is a learning centre in Kalmakanda that provides education to poor children, mostly dropouts.
Services at the learning centre are free.
The seven youths – one university student, five college goers, and one 10th grader – teach children for an hour and a half every day at a room on College Road.
Family of Imran Hasan, a first-year student of International University of Business and Technology in Dhaka, owns the room.
“Now there are some 88 children from class-I to V, including orphans and those who dropped out. There are also children who do not get to attend classes because they work to earn bread for their families. The school syllabuses are followed at the centre,” said Imran.
The centre opens at 7:00am. The seven boys take classes in turns.
“First, we contacted the parents in College Road, Chandpur, Rajapur, and Chakpara neighbourhoods and persuade them to send their children to the centre. They responded well and we started the programme in January this year,” he said.
Most of the children are from ultra-poor families and hardly get any support to deal with challenges in this competitive world, he went on.
Babul Hasan, Romjan Miah, Osman Ali, Durjoy Das, Galiv Khan, and Khokon Miah are the other members of the platform. Among them, Khokon studies in class-X at a local school.
The platform had also been campaigning against early marriage and sexual harassment since inception, said Romjan, adding that it also donates blood and supports poor patients.
“We went for the learning centre this year and the elders in the locality had been praising our efforts. They also offered financial support,” said Romjan.
“The students manage books from schools and we give them other educational materials,” said Babul Hasan.
Weekly cultural events and cleanliness drives were also part of their programme, said Osman Ali.
“I have found a way to continue studies,” said Bahar Uddin, 12, who lost his father a few years ago.
“I fish to support my mother and it is difficult to do the daily homework alongside that. Now I have the support,” said Bahar, now a fifth grader at a local school.
Class-V student Shimu Akhter, daughter of a brick kiln worker in Chandpur, said since joining the centre she had been able to keep pace with her classmates.
Kalmakanda Upazila Nirbahi Officer Md Zakir Hossain praised the seven youths. “I will provide all kinds of support to promote this initiative.”