Dhaka, Friday, March 23, 2018


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A different school for school children

By Maloy Dutta

DHAKA, Feb 16, 2018 (BSS) - While Dhaka city dwellers are habituated to see most of the schools as well-decorated, furnished and high-rise buildings, anyone will surely be surprised at witnessing a school made of small tin-roof shanty at a park in the capital.

Every corner of the park is filled with wastes, garbage and dustbins, where there is a shanty with a signboard 'Pathoshishu Shikkhyaloy' (school for street children).

Just after entering into the shack, such a picture came to eyes that is completely different from ordinary school's classrooms.

Children were not attiring high-priced school uniforms, rather many were sitting in barefoot with dust in hair and different parts of the body.

Ignoring dress-pattern, gesture and other formalities, children were spontaneous in classrooms and learning lessons. All of them are street children, who spend their days roaming around the Farmgate area for earning livelihoods.

"I collect wastes from nearby dustbins and sell those to my boss. But I don't miss any class in my school," said a 12-year-boy Selim Miah, who resides in the park.

"I enjoy the classes very much. We altogether pass some moments filled with joy here," said Selim, who came from Jamalpur around five years back.

His father divorced her mother around four years ago. One year later, her mother married another man and left.

Like Selim, dozens of street children are enrolled in the makeshift school that is voluntarily run by a group of youths.

"My parents could not afford to admit me to the school. That's why, I never went to any school in past. But now, I've got a chance to study in this school and I don't miss any class here. I want to be educated and get a government job in future," said Mosharaf Hossain.

Mosharrof, the teen-age boy, works as helping hand to his mother, who sells vegetable on foothpaths in Farmgate area.

Some 7 to 8 youths of different professions have been running the Pathoshishu Shikkhyaloy' since 2013 at the capital's Farmgate Anwar Park.

Schooling starts at 4:00 pm and it continues till 6:00pm every day except Friday.

"We consider it as informal education system. Usually, we enroll 25 to 30 students in each batch," said Fahim Monayem, one of the founders of the school.

Students are taught some basic subjects including Bangla, English and Fine Arts, he informed.

"We try to educate the children amid amusement. We let them playing, singing and acting in the classroom. That's why children are much enthusiastic to join the classes," said Shiekh Lalon Ahmed, one of the founders of the school.

"Apart from teaching academic issues, we educate them with ethical and moral issues. We want to promote human values in their minds so that they refrain from being involved with criminal activities," he added.

Breakfast period is another desired part of classes for students as the school authorities provide food to them.

"If I came to class, they (teachers) give me different types of food like biscuit, chocolate, fruits and sweets. So, I don't want to miss classes," said Moushumi Akhter.

Apart from regular breakfast, school authorities provide special foods on different occasions like Independence Day, Victory Day and International Mother Language Day.

Asked about financing, the school founders said they bear the costs by their own. "There are many street children in Dhaka. It's not possible for us to educate them all. But we are teaching few of them to change their fate," said Fahim Monayem, another founder of the school.

The government should come up with a massive plan to rehabilitate street children, they viewed.

According to rough estimation of different child rights bodies, the number of street children is 11 lakh in the country, including 4 lakh in the capital.

On behalf of the government, Bangladesh Shishu Academy is spearheading different campaigns to rehabilitate the street children.

Shishu Academy operates six Shishu Bikash Kendra across the country where over 750 can reside.

"We provide different facilities including food, lodging, education, games and sports and cultural activities," said Shamima Arefin, programme officer of Shishu Academy.