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     Volume 4 Issue 33 | February 11, 2005 |

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On Campus

for Kids

Faria Tasnin

Every dream starts with a fragment of hope and the children are our hope for a better tomorrow. Bangladesh has a substantial population below the age of ten, and in future they will run our country in many ways with many expertise. BRAC has always been an active contributor in the enhancement of child issues. Recently, BRAC University came forward and held a workshop called Arch.Kids (Architecture for Kids) on their campus. Knowing how important a role the children are going to play in future; Arch.Kids aim was to develop children as conscious citizens of Bangladesh.

The idea of this workshop came from Assistant Professor Dr Q M Mahtab-uz-Zaman. He left the country in 1992 to pursue his higher studies and ten years after living in Hong Kong, he came back to Bangladesh in 2002. The first thing he observed was how the children were negatively exposed to our 'undesirable practice in terms of environmental management, urban development and architectural creations'. Today's children are more exposed to media. They carry with them a new vision and their demands are diverse. It is for us to see that they have a chance to a better environment with sustainable architecture. The workshop's plan was to provide the children with knowledge of how to manage their own city.

The Vice Chancellor of BRAC University Professor Jamilur Reza Choudhury inaugurated the workshop and shared his views with the children. The workshop consisted of about 15 children between six and eight, coming from different schools. The number was limited because it would enable the coordinators to monitor how the children perceived things in the city realm, as it was the first workshop of this kind in Bangladesh. As the workshop started, the children were shown slides featuring subjects of environment and architecture in Bangladesh. These were everyday scenes, one to make the children feel comfortable about the subject matter at hand. The slides also contained scenes from Asia, Europe and America. The idea was to create a contrast between the countries and help the children identify the important environmental and architectural features missing in our surroundings.

Through open discussion between the children and the coordinators, the children were questioned about their localities. Through the slides, the problems existing in our city were identified. For example, one such slide featured a cluster of buildings with hardly any trees. The children were asked what was wrong with the slide and they clearly identified that the image should have contained more trees. Other slides contained pictures of clean footpaths, garbage bins and litter, just to create awareness in the children.

The next session was model making where the children grouped and were given various items, like cars, trees, buses, buildings, factories, schools, roads and water bodies. They were told to build their ideal type of city and they did it with a lot of enthusiasm. The end results were three beautiful miniature cities.

Following this was a fun-filled colouring session, where the children drew what pictures came to their minds. They were later given certificates for attending this workshop. Having participated in this event, the group had become members to Arch.Kids and as more workshops will follow in the future, the membership will grow. These children will be looked upon for opinions about environment and architecture. In doing so, the children will be actively participating in protecting the best interests of the city.

Dr Q M Mahtab-uz-Zaman is quite positive about the outcome of this endeavour. "In the future, we'll hold this workshop in various schools and we hope to go to rural areas where there is less awareness," says Zaman. "We also hope to hold a workshop at Shishu Academy."

The workshop was an optimistic step towards building a better environment. As ventures of this type grow, it would surely enable us to build conscious citizens of tomorrow.


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