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Meena, a positive role model for Bangladeshi children

© UNICEF Bangladesh/2008/Kakon
Students dressed as their favorite Meena character sit in the audience before performing with their classmates
Dhaka, 24 Sept 2008: “I like everything about Meena! She teaches me to help people, how to be nice to people and how to take care of girls,” says 11 year old Tahrim Rahman, one of the hundreds of children who participated in Meena Day special events on September 24. Young and old came together across Dhaka city in support of this year’s celebration on ‘Inclusive Education – Quality Education to end Exclusion’. 

Primary school students, teachers, parents and Government officials sat together and filled the Bangladesh Institute of Administrative Management auditorium with laughter.  A Meena puppet show on center stage about access to school held everyone’s attention in the room.

“These students were born with Meena” says one teacher. “She is a big part of our school and family life in Bangladesh.  The students love Meena.”

This year’s Meena Day was marked by the launch of four new Meena TV spots and episodes.  These new Meena cartoons, produced with UNICEF support, promote equal participation in education, teacher's positive role, love of books and child-friendly school environment.

© UNICEF Bangladesh/2008/Naser Siddique
Classmates performing their favorite story “Meena Goes to School”
The Ideal Government Primary School in Dhaka was one of the 10 schools selected to perform a drama of their favorite Meena story on stage.  Grade 5 student Raisa Khairum Binte Siddiquee dressed as Meena’s best friend, the parrot ‘Mithu’. She and her classmates acted out the drama where Mithu teaches Meena how to count. In this story Meena’s family learns the importance of sending children and girls to school and soon allows Meena to participate. Raisa felt proud to be dressed like Mithu and commented that “everyone should be able to go to school”. 

Bangladesh has one of the largest primary education systems in the world with an estimated 16.5 million primary school aged children (6 to 10 years) and approximately 364,494 Teachers (147,390 women) and 81,434 primary schools.

The country has made significant progress towards achieving universal primary education and gender parity in schools with the Net Enrollment Rate in Primary School reaching 91%.  Meena Day this year highlighted the need for quality improvements in primary schools focusing on vulnerable groups who are currently not enrolled or who drop out of school.  Current vulnerable groups include children with disabilities or special needs, children living in urban slums or in remote rural areas, working children, children from very poor families and from ethic minorities, and refugee children; all groups would benefit if schools were more inclusive and child-friendly.



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