Labourers the founders

Free Primary School in Tangail
Labourers the founders

A few day labourers have set a rare example of devotion to education and the society in a remote village in Tangail at a time when many have turned education into a tool of making a fast buck.
The labourers, mostly rubber garden workers and rickshaw-van pullers, set up a primary school at Aronkhola village from their daily savings three years back.
Nearly 228 students from play group to class-V study in the school for free and receive free reading and writing materials from the school.
The village, nearly 18 kilometres off Madhupur upazila, has a population of 7,000. The two nearest schools — Aronkhola Government Primary and Amtoly Primary schools — are four and five kilometres away from the village hemmed in by a forest on one side and water bodies on the rest. The children of the village had to take a muddy path, cross a river and three water bodies to go to the two schools.
A group of 17 day labourers, most of them young, decided to change that by setting up a school in 2008.
Of them, Faruque Hossain, 30, a day labourer at Pirgachha rubber garden, first envisaged setting up a primary school in the village. The youth, who earned a maximum of Tk 200 a day then, shared the idea with his fellow labourers.
They agreed to the initiative and went door to door to collect students for the school. The parents responded positively and threw their weight behind the initiators.
They initially got 150 students. Labourer Amzad Hossain, one of the organisers, made space for a classroom in the living room of his house by shifting his belongings to the kitchen.
Faruque, who studied up to Class-IX, took the responsibility of headmaster of the school. His fellow workers Abdul Barek, Md Russel and Amzad were chosen as teachers.
Others in the group were assigned to raise funds to buy reading and writing materials for the school.
They named it “Jubo Ideal School” that remained open from 4:00pm to sunset.
When seven villagers donated 35 decimals of land to the school a year later, they borrowed Tk 70,000 from some villagers for land registration and construction of a school.
Yakub Ali, chairman of Sholakuri union, lent support to the founders, who made him president of the school committee.
Sisters Sabina and Shilpi, students of class-IV at the school, said they receive free scripts, pens as well as uniform from the school.
Their father Somiruddin, a day labourer, said he is happy that the school doesn’t charge anything for his two daughters.
Faruque said they renamed the school Jubo Digital Primary School in 2010 and have so far met all costs from their small earnings.
As the number of students crossed 200, they appointed four teachers including a headmaster last year in line with the government rules, he said.
“All four teachers have been giving voluntary service to the school since then,” he added.
Headmaster Abul Kalam, a kamil (masters) student of Gopalpur Darul Ulum Madrasa, said with the establishment of the school, many children, who would have been deprived of primary education in the village, now can avail themselves of it for free.
He along with another teacher comes to the school every day from Madhupur upazila on their own.
“Two other teachers come from nearby villages. We are inspired by these day labourers to volunteer for the school,” said Kalam.
Assistant headmaster Rebeka Sultana, a BA student of Golabari Degree College, said five students from the school sat for the primary terminal examination last year and they all passed.
Another teacher Shahnaz Parvin, a BA student of Madhupur Degree College, said she joined the school, hearing that Anwar Hossain, one of the school founders, has been raising funds for the school performing acrobatics in local markets.
“A tin-shed office room was constructed for the teachers last year with the money borrowed from a local non-governmental organisation,” she said.
Delwar Hossain, a rubber garden worker and one of the founders, said they received 45 sets of books from the upazila education office last year, and have got free books for all their students this year.
Mahmudur Rahman, assistant education officer in Madhupur, said he visited the school and saw the achievement of the youths behind it.
“According to the rules, the school authorities need to apply for temporary registration three years into its inception. They can apply for permanent registration after two more years,” he added.
Fish trader Abbas Ali Miah of the village said the founders have been bearing all the costs of the school. Its teachers are also contributing greatly to the cause.
“We urge the government to take the responsibility of the school to give relief to its founders and teachers as early as possible,” he said.


Courtesy of The Daily Star

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