Friendship, a social-purpose organization, has shown significant success in expanding the reach of education in the Jamuna-Brahmaputra chars.
Education Minister Dr. Dipu Moni lauded the success as exemplary in an international webinar. She also spoke about the overall cooperation in the expansion of education in remote areas.
UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh Mia Seppo joined the webinar as the chief guest while directorate general of Ministry of Education Prof. Syed Md. Golam Faruk, director of Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, Luxembourg Manuel Tonnar, Prof. Nazmul Haq of Dhaka University, Roland Nissfolk of ERIKS Development Partners, Sweden, Board of Stichting Weeshuis der Doopsgezinden, Netherlands, advisor Merel Schreurs and Prof. Saleemul Haq of International University of Bangladesh as guest panelists.
Mia Seppo spoke of the role of the UN in enabling education around the world, and in Bangladesh, and the importance of cooperation between all stakeholders.
Professor Md. Abdul Maleque, director of Institute of Education and Research, Dhaka University, and associate professor Shah Shamim Ahmed highlighted various aspects and achievements of the expansion of education in the char areas of Gaibandha-Kurigram.
The study started on October in 2019 reported a major change in educational status of 15 unions under six upazilas of Gaibandha and Kurigram districts.
The life of about 150,000 residents in this remote area has gained momentum; in that the women and adolescents of the chars have become career-oriented and self-reliant due to the education received from Friendship Schools, said the study.
“Awareness regarding social issues has also increased a lot, especially in the prevention of child marriage and dowry. The curriculum of Friendship Schools also includes a Code of Ethics, regarding good moral and ethical values and good, lawful citizenship. Most importantly, the public examination results of the students are exemplary, proving the methods used by Friendship effective,” it read.
The research report also makes some recommendations to expand upon this triumphant journey of education in the char areas.
Funding is important to ensure continuous and uninterrupted education services in remote areas; therefore, government and non-government administrations and agencies at the national and local levels are urged to be more active in their participation, said the research report.
Prevention of child marriage also must be given high importance to prevent students from dropping out of school, it added. Therefore, the report advised the local administration and social leaders to work closely with Friendship, which is already working towards these goals.
In the case of secondary education, it is suggested to make remote learning more attractive to the students through information technology, especially in the context of the global pandemic.
The research report also called for further inclusion of the Code of Ethics and other social awareness programs (such as Clean Home, Clean School) and nodes of the curriculum in government-run schools.
Runa Khan, founder and executive director of Friendship, gave the welcome address at the webinar with Friendship International co-chairman Mark Elvinger in the chair.
She expressed her satisfaction over the expansion of primary and secondary education through her interventions in improving the quality of life and standards of living of the marginalized people of chars.
Brigadier General (Retired) Ilyas Iftekhar Rasul, head of education of Friendship, moderated the webinar.