The hope of moving-island schools | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 07, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 07:00 PM, September 09, 2018

The hope of moving-island schools

Let's travel through a different kind of school today, which goes beyond excellent academic results and ensures students come out with good character and moral strength. However, what makes it so different?

To answer that, we need to travel to the chars and find out.

What is a char? Chars are riverine land formations, temporary in nature, but, inhabited by millions in Bangladesh. Permanent structures are impossible in these regions because the land is constantly eroding and forming anew. The time and expense required to even reach many chars leave inhabitants deprived of basic state infrastructure, healthcare, justice, roads, and electricity.

It is very difficult to manage secondary schools here. A decade ago, many char villages lacked any school at all. Today, most chars have primary schools. Finding and assigning secondary school teachers is almost impossible too. A few government schools do employ teachers from the mainland, but, due to difficulty in commuting, these teachers rarely attend the classes.

This is where Friendship (an NGO) steps in. It has been working on the char regions for 16 years now, innovating solutions to problems one by one. The solution Friendship came up to this particular problem is to use pre-recorded video lessons projected onto TV monitors powered by solar panels, as there is no electricity in chars. The lessons are recorded in Friendship's studio in Dhaka by teachers from nationally renowned schools and sent to local Friendship schools on CDs. The classes are supervised by facilitators who are among the char residents and have also received trainings from experienced teachers. The facilitators are regularly able to take students' questions to the teachers as well.

This year, Friendship had their first batch of JSC examinees, and out of the 56 examinees, 36 received A, 19 got A-, and one got a B. These results show that the children are no less talented compared to any other student around the nation.

Then again, what makes these char schools and their approach even more unique is the code of 12 ethical principles; compassion, confidence, courage, rights, empathy, honesty, patience, justice, non-violence and tolerance, dignity, humility and commitment. Friendship's char schools ensure students come out with good character and moral strength besides great academic achievements. Every month, these students are taught one of the above 12 ethical principles through story-telling and discussion. They are encouraged to contemplate and try to understand these simple, but abstract, ideas by applying them to situations in their own lives.

The tale of contribution doesn't just end here. Through these schools, Friendship has been addressing several much broader social issues. Giving young girls a chance to study in these char schools help prevent early marriages. Another vital issue that it solves is the building of responsible citizens. Friendship's curriculum, therefore, extends to ethics, identity, and character-building.

Via such schools, Friendship has brought classes closer to home. The NGO has provided local char communities with quality secondary school classes, thanks to their ingenuity and technology. With this, they now have fully functional secondary schools reaching out to students and flourishing their facility of education regardless of its physical infrastructure.

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