Success story of a rural school
By Saifunnahar Sumi, UNICEF Freelance Writer
“The school looks very beautiful now. It’s not what it was 10 years back. We now see many students regularly attending school. They study, play, sing, and do many other extracurricular activities,” says Shafia Khatun, guardian of Shahana, a student of Class II.
In 2010, Baluchara Government Primary School of Kalmakanda in Netrokona district situated in the northern part of the country bordering the hills of Meghalaya in India, had a tin-shed building with two classrooms where the students took their lessons sitting on broken benches in a colourless environment.
Now after six years, the school is equipped with teaching/learning and playing materials, musical instruments, dance dresses and have a tube well, language martyr’s monument, decorated class rooms, vegetable and flower gardens and a seven-member student council.
All this has been possible thanks to greater involvement of the school management committee (SMC), teachers, local level officials and community participation in the planning of the school’s development under the School Effectiveness programme supported by UNICEF, under the leadership of the head teacher, Md Aminul Islam.
This intervention is intended to strengthen school level plans (SLIPs) that aim to improve the quality of learning in schools to ensure inclusive, quality education and learning achievement in a child-friendly environment.
Besides, personal commitment of Md Aminul Islam who has been imparting education as the head teacher of the school from 2010, has also helped to develop the school as a centre of excellence.
It is due to such concerted efforts of all the stakeholders that the school won the best primary school award for three consecutive years in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Now the school has 248 students (127 girls, 121 boys) and six teachers including three male and three female teachers, rooms and every year three or four students get scholarships.
The school has a museum that contains many things including technology and its uses, medical science, scientific inventions, contribution of civilization, prominent professional’s biography, information on 100 countries and history of the country’s war of independence.
A room named “Visit Bangladesh” helps students to learn about Bangladesh and Bengali culture in the school.
“When I joined the school in 2010, the school had only few logistic arrangements. As I love my school, my students and the guardians, with their help and support, the school got best recognition for three consecutive times," says Md Aminul Isalm cheerfully.
He said one Saleha Khatun who lives near the school and whose two grandsons study in the school, always helps the school by cooking on a need-basis.
“She donates 50 taka for the development of school on a regular basis. If I don't agree to take the money, she gets hurt as she thinks I am not taking the money as the amount is too small,” he says, citing an example of the kind of love and support the school gets from the community people.
Sagre Manzil, Mugdho Mandol Ashim and Suman Mia are studying in class three and are close friends. Suman Mia, a little intellectually disabled, always receives support from his two friends.
“If Suman cannot understand something, Sagre and I help him. We always have tiffin in school and go back home together,” says Mugho Mandol with a smiling face.
The Kalmakanda village is adjacent to a hill and has borders with India. It is home to Garo ethnic community, mostly Christians. But all people peacefully coexist here.
The School Management Committee (SMC) President Rabindra Kube belongs to Garo community who started his schooling in this school.
“The school was established on 1931. I was a student of the school. The school is running well with the help of the present head teacher and community people,” Rabindra Kube says.
The head teacher Md Aminul participated in different kinds of training organized by District Primary Education Office. “I learned about the school effectiveness programme and how to engage community from the ‘Core training Programme in 2015’”, he informs.
Training of teachers and SMCs have also helped to develop their knowledge and skills to plan effectively from a holistic point of view in order to ensure learning needs of all types of children are addressed in the school plan and that learning materials are available to all students.
Primary Education Development Programme (PEDP3)
In line with the new National Education Policy for the reform of the education sector, the Government of Bangladesh is implementing the third Primary Education Development Programme (PEDP3), which intends to improve access, quality and equity in education.
One major component of PEDP3 is School Effectiveness (SE), implemented by the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education (MoPME) through the Directory of Primary Education (DPE). The intervention aims to strengthen school level planning and targets children in primary schools in the 20 UNDAF/low-performing districts, including urban slums.
School Effectiveness utilizes a child friendly school approach to planning. Child Friendly School is an extended version of quality that goes beyond pedagogy and covers the whole school environment in which a child learns and links school to community.
Children’s environment require a multi-dimensional planning framework such as inclusive education, effective teaching and learning, health, nutrition, and safety, gender sensitive schooling, engagement of parents, community, students and good governance.
Children from mixed religions are studying in the school and the school follows the inclusive education system so that all children irrespective of gender, ability, minority group, and ethnicity achieve equitable quality primary education up to Grade V.
The school’s museum is an ideal example of effective teaching and learning method where children are taught in an informal and fun way. The ratio of teachers and students is on the basis of gender and religion. The students participate in different kinds of competitions at community, district and national levels.
Community people of the Kalmakanda village and the school management committee (SMC) are active in the development of the students and the school. They donate fund ahead of different programmes like Parents Teachers Association programme, Mother’s Day and among others.