‘I can continue my study now since a school has been set up in the shelter home. I enjoy studying and I am happy that I don’t need to stop going school now. I want to be in service completing my study,’ said Alo, a student of standard VI, living with her family in Char Nagda village.
Char Nagda is a shoal of River Jamuna, located in Haturia Nakalia union (lowest tier of local body) of Bera Upazila (sub-district) under Pabna district, a northern part of the country. The village has a primary school, but no secondary school or college. On completion of primary school, students need to go other distant char areas or the main land to pursue further education. The nearest secondary schools located in Pachuria village which is theree kilometer away from Char Nagda. And the communication system is very poor as several numbers of ditches, crop fields, bushes, and sand-grounds lie on the path to the school and it become more difficult during monsoon.
For the shoal dwellers, travelling from one place to another is very challenging as they do not have personal vehicle for transportation. The dwellers are dependent on a time bound boat for their movement. This challenge has caused most of the adolescents of Char Nagda to stop school after primary. As per government the dropout rate is 17% in Bera Upazila. And the dropout rate of girls is higher than boys.
Considering the community need and for maximum utilization of infrastructure, the Flood Shelter Management Committee of Char Nagda took the initiative of establishing a junior secondary school (standard VI - VIII) in the local flood shelter.
Manab Mukti Shangstha (MMS), in collaboration with ActionAid Bangladesh (AAB), supported Char Nagda community to build the flood shelter in 2010. The programme, DIPECHO V Action Plan, aims to prepare the disaster-prone communities and is funded by European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection.
This DIPECHO initiative benefitted girls like Alo immensely. When Alo completed her primary education, her parents were confused whether she should continue her study or not. Alo’s mother Mabia Khatun said, ‘She is physically fragile, and we were tensed mulling over to send her to secondary school which isn’t near, in fact, far away.’
For Alo, carrying on her study further was uncertain considering her frail health as well as other inhibiting factors, like stalking, sexual harassment, etc. But, what appeared as the immediate impact of the shelter cum school initiative, Alo’s father Md. Taleb Molla happily shared,‘ She is my eldest child… we are immensely pleased that she is being able to carry forward her studies due to the establishment.'