Thursday, January 24, 2019 | ePaper

School brings hope for slum children

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Not long ago, it was just around two years back when Antor Ahmed felt jealous if anyone walked past him attiring school dress with books or backpack.
He wished if he could study in school. "I always felt jealous that why I cannot wear school dress, cannot go to
school and cannot study," said 10-year-old boy Antor, who used to work at a furniture shop in Rajshahi city.
Parents of the ill-fated boy, who lives at a Koitapukur slum in Rajshai city, did not allow him to study as they thought pursuing education is worthless.
"My parents thought that it would be more effective and beneficial, if I go to work and earn some penny," he continued.
"But my dream came true around two years back when I got a chance to enrol in a school and to study there," added Antor, who is now studying in class II.
Not only Antor, 200 more underprivileged children are now getting the opportunity to study in a school.
'Alor Pothe Biddyaniketon' (school on the way to light) has come up with the opportunity for the slum children in Rajshahi city.
Another class II 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, who now spends most of the time of a day with study.
The school was founded in 2015 by a youth Abu Zafar, who has come up with the hope of light of education for slum children.
A post-graduate Zafar has abandoned ordinary life of a better job, high salary, career or something else for what everybody runs after.
His struggle started from 2003 when he just completed his masters. One day some children of the slum came to him and requested him to teach them. That was the beginning. He started teaching the student.
As days were going on, his passion to teach the underprivileged children was accelerating.
Zafar started preparing list of children at the slum and its adjacent areas. Then bought old books and other academic materials from shops and began teaching the slum students on an open sky.
At the beginning, Zafar faced many difficulties. The slum dwellers did not like his initiative as they think it would be economically harmful to them.
People thought that the children could earn money, if they work instead of study, said Zafar.
"Even, many parents did not allow their children to go to study to me. Many people misbehaved to me," he lamented.
Being frustrated, Zafar gave up his initiative, came to Dhaka and joined a job. But the children started phone call daily requesting him to return 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 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 capacity," Khaleq Miah, a slum dweller and rickshaw
puller by profession.
Later in 2015, Zafar with cooperation of other slum dwellers took lease of 4 katha land and establish the school there.
Currently, over 200 students are studying in the school and four youths are working there as teachers voluntarily without any remuneration.  Zafar, who runs a small business for earning livelihood, spends one-fourth of his earnings to run the school.
The school now gets books from local education office, said Zafar with an urge to the government and affluent people of the society to come forward for the welfare of underprivileged children.

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