A pathway to social welfare

A group of students from University of Asia Pacific has taken an imitative to provide pre-school basic education to slum children, Bachchu Shekh writes about the initiative.

study tourIn the afternoon, when most students leave the campus, some students return to classrooms instead, but they are here to teach now. When these student-teachers enter the classroom, their students, who are from economically impoverished background, seem ready for the class, aware of etiquettes and the manners. These children are not fortunate enough to receive a home education before entering into school.

A group of students from the University of Asia Pacific initiated this programme titled ‘Sholpo Meyadi Shishu Shikkha Karjokrom’ that provides pre-school basic education. In 2009, with a view to provide slum children with basic education, the civil engineering students of UAP launched the pre-school project. They also developed a curriculum catering to the needs of their students.  Originally, professor Kabir, first director of the programme, initiated the project. Later on, some of the civil engineering teachers lent their support and helped developing the programme to sustain over time.

classroom-1Every semester, students select some slums and visit there to indentify children who could be brought under this project. At the university, in every class, children are entertained with foods. Sometimes student representatives take them to short trips around Dhaka. Besides, on different occasions and festivals, children are taken for excursions to different places in the city.

Anup Debnath, current in charge of this program, when talking about the school, said, ‘Students are taught basic manners, they are provided with daily needs like towels, soaps and toothpastes. From this initiative, during winter, we also distribute winter clothes. In a nutshell, we try to support them with everything needed for someone to grow up as a good and ideal human being.’

Kumkum Yea Habiba, another student involved in this project said, ‘We always provide the basic education. We emphasised on teaching Bengali, English and Mathematics so that they can get admitted to the mainstream primary schools. Sometimes we teach drawings and screen cartoon movies for their entertainment. In last civil engineering festival, students of this school performed. Overall, the children are being prepared for the primary school admission.’

In the six-month long course, children are taught some rhymes in Bangla so that later they can easily cope with their primary education in schools. The process of teaching English is almost the same. First, volunteer teachers teach them all the alphabets and then try to make words with them.

classroom-2The work of SMSSK does no longer exist within admitting children to schools but also ensuring and monitoring their school education, their attendance and the ratio of dropping out. At the end of the programme, children are given a formal farewell where parents are requested to attend so that they can take feedback and discuss about the progress of their children and receive further suggestions. They also arrange orientation programme for welcoming the new children.

Since 2009, a number of nine batches have graduated from this project and many of them are doing well in regular school. About 12 children get enrolled in every batch of this school. Most of the time, SMSSK collects these kids from slums of Rayer Bazar and Bou Bazar of the city. It may be mentioned that, most of children who graduated from here are successfully continuing their academic performance in Rayer Bazar Govt. School. The chances of dropping out are low as the SMSSK’s volunteers try to keep in touch with their students even after their pre-schooling is done.

Mahmuda Akhter, a student grade seven of this school, who has completed her pre-schooling at UAP, is doing extremely well in her school and has extraordinary academic record. In the last farewell programme, she was invited as an alumnus to inspire the outgoing and welcoming batches.

Professor Kabir, chief patron of SMSSK said, ‘Initially it was tough to recruit student volunteers, as well as gathering children from the slum. But now, after completing some successful batches we are getting satisfactory responses from the parents of the children. And I feel very happy when I see not only engineering students but also students from other departments are willing to get involved in this programme as volunteer teacher.’

Undoubtedly, this is a good initiative that creates a better pathway for students of UAP to take on citizenry reasonability and get involved in social services as volunteers. This exceptional initiative is obviously trying to create a bond between educational institutes, society and people. The student volunteers are exemplary for showing that students also have a responsibility to the society to carry out.


                                                Bachchu Shekh is a public relation officer at University of Asia Pacific.


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