Our third day in Dhaka was dedicated to visiting socialization and learning centres for children. These centres exist thanks to IKEA’s support (through the Foundation but also thanks to the Soft Toys for Education campaign’s sales in each store) and the common work between Save the Children and CSID (Centre for Services and Information on Disabilities) in the area. Three socialization centers are in place in Dhaka, and 20 learning centres are directly linked to them.
In learning centres, each year, a maximum of 25 children can apply and follow the 5 grades education programme. The education centre we visited today was launched in January 2013. Children who have never gone to school or who dropped out started Grade 1 in 2013. Now they are in Grade 4 (each grade is studied for six months), and they will be able to pass their final examination in 2015. Classroom sessions are divided in two, so 40 to 50 children who previously received no formal primary education can obtain their final examination. Some of the children we met this morning keep on working as well but prefer that we remember that they are students, as students are more privileged children.
Between the ages of 7 and 14, the class is managed by a referent teacher. Most of the time the teacher lives in the community very close to the school and earns 600 taka (about 6 euros) per month. Her (90% are female) tasks are to develop a lesson plan, manage administrative topics, follow up with home visits, meet the parents… In her class, the teacher is supported by four group leaders. These children assume some responsibilities like ensuring that everyone in their group brings their books, participates and learn their lessons. Absanna (12 years old), Jaba (9), Jasmine (10) and Fahima (10) are proud of their role and present us with their team members and the name of their group (usually linked to Bangladeshi symbols, such as flowers or animals).
We attended a lesson this morning on traffic rules. Based on colours and a text in English, the objectives were to practice English but also to make children aware of traffic dangers. On the roads, traffic is real chaos and is one of the most important drivers of accidents. It was a main part of our security briefing when we arrived!
After this first visit, where children, teachers and community always welcomed us with smiles, we moved to another place: the socialization centre. Their goals are to create a place for children who have not succeed in applying to school and offer them the possibilities to learn hygiene principles, to draw, to learn dancing, to meet each other and to create friendships. Compared to the street, it’s also a secure place for children where they can find sanitation and water access to take a shower.
For older children, it’s also a place where they can learn a job. We meet young girls who were learning fabric painting. Their job was so great and colourful!
As in each visit, children are so proud to share with us their knowledge and skills.
We had several demonstrations of dance, songs, hygiene rules and reading.
We ended the day in meeting the founder of CSID, who also has a disability. His team’s objective is to give the same chance to disabled children and to change society’d mindset about them.
A long journey … but what important work already done!
This third day, as before, is just a lesson for us. Certainly our actions help them to improve their lives, but they certainly do not realise how they are also changing ours…