Slum children get education as youth runs free school in Rajshahi



DHAKA, Nov 18, 2018 (BSS) – Not long ago, it was just about two years back when Antor Ahmed felt jealous to see anyone attired in school dress walked past him holding books or backpack. He wished if he could study in a school.

“I always felt jealous – why I cannot wear school dress, cannot go to school and cannot study,” said Antor, a 10-year boy, who used to work at a furniture shop at Rajshahi town.

Parents of this ill-fated boy, who live at a slum at Koitapukur in Rajshai city, did not allow him to study as they thought studying is worthless.

“They (parents) thought that it would be more effective and beneficial, if I go to work and earn some money,” Antor said.

“But one day around two years back, my dream came true when I got a chance to get admitted in a school and to study there,” added Antor, who is now studying in Class 2.

Not only Antor, but also 200 more underprivileged children are now getting the opportunity to study in this school.

‘Alo’r Pothe Biddyaniketon’ (School on the way to light) has come up with the opportunity for the children living in slums in Rajshahi city.

Another Class-2 student Abdul Halim, who used to collect wastes and scraps from dustbins and streets, now can write paragraphs in English.

“I want to study. I want to be a police officer in future,” said Halim. Currently, he spends most of his in studies.

The school was founded in 2015 by a youth, Abu Zafar, who came up with the hope of light of education for the slum children.

Zafar, who has a post-graduate degree, did not care for his better career, high salary or anything else for which all others run after.

His struggle started from 2003 when he just completed his masters. One day, some children of the slum came to him and kept requesting to teach them. That was the beginning. He started teaching the students.

As days were going on, his passion to teach the underprivileged children was heightening.

Zafar started preparing a list of children at the slum and its adjacent areas. Then he bought old books and other academic materials from shops and started teaching the slum students under the open sky.

At the beginning, Zafar faced many difficulties. The slum dwellers did not like his initiative as they thought it would be economically harmful to them.

People thought that the children could earn money, if they worked instead of studying, said Zafar.

“Even, many parents did not allow their children to come to me to learn their studies. Many people misbehaved with me,” he told this correspondent.

Being fed up, Zafar gave up his initiative and came to Dhaka and took a job. But the children started calling him over phone daily and kept requesting to go back to Rajshahi.

At one stage, Zafar accepted the request of children and went back to Rajshahi. But this time, he found a different scenario. All the slum dwellers were cooperating with him.

“Earlier, we had a wrong perception. But now, we have understood that education is very important. Now, we send our children to the teacher (Zafar) and help him as per our ability,” said Khalek Miah, a slum dweller and rickshaw puller in profession.

Later in 2015, Zafar with cooperation of other slum dwellers, took lease of 4 katha land and established the school there.

Currently, over 200 students are studying in the school and four youths are working here as teachers voluntarily without any remuneration.

Zafar, who runs a small business for earning livelihood, spend one-fourth of his earning to run the school.

The school now gets books from the local education office, said Zafar.

He urged the government and the affluent people of society to come forward for the welfare of underprivileged children.