Merely two years ago, Antor Ahmed used to feel jealous to see anyone walk past him in a school uniform.
‘I always felt jealous as I couldn’t wear a school dress and couldn’t go to school,’ said ten-year old Antor who used to work at a furniture shop in Rajshahi town.
Parents of this ill-fated boy, who lived at a slum at Koitapukur in Rajshai city, did not let him study as they thought education was of no use to them.
‘My parents thought that it would be more useful for them if I worked and earned money,’ Antor said.
‘But one day around two years back, my dream came true when I got a chance to get admitted in a school,’ added Antor, who was now a student of Class II.
Not only Antor but 200 other underprivileged children were now getting the opportunity to study at this school.
Alo’r Pothe Biddyaniketon was set up to for the children living in slums in Rajshahi city.
Another Class-II student Abdul Halim, who used to collect wastes and scraps from dustbins and streets, was now able to write paragraphs in English.
‘I want to study. I want to become a cop in future,’ said Halim. He currently spent most of his time studying. The school was founded in 2015 by the young Abu Zafar who came up with the idea to set up a school for the slum children.
His idea came into being in 2003 after he completed his master’s degree when some children from the slum came to him and requested him to teach them. He began teaching them and had never looked back since. His passion to teach underprivileged children had grown ever since. Zafar made lists of children who lived in slums, bought old books and other academic materials from shops and started teaching the slum children under the open sky.
At the beginning, Zafar faced many difficulties. The slum dwellers did not like his initiative as they were worried about foregone incomes their children brought in. The parents thought that the children were better off earning instead of studying, said Zafar.
‘Many parents did not allow their children to come to the school. Many parents misbehaved with me,’ he said.
Fed up, Zafar gave up his initiative and came to Dhaka and took up a job. He went back after the children kept calling him on the phone and begged him to return.
When he went back this time, he found the slum dwellers were cooperating with him. ‘Our perception about education in the past was incorrect. We now have understood that education is very important. We now send our children to Zafar’s school and help him as much as we can,’ said Khalek Miah, a rickshaw puller who lived in slums.
In 2015, Zafar with cooperation with the slum dwellers, took lease of four katha land and established the school there. Over 200 students were studying at the school at present and four young teachers taught there free of cost.Zafar, who ran a small business for a livelihood, spent one-fourth of his earnings to keep the school functional. The school now availed books from the local education office, said Zafar. He urged the government and the affluent people in society to come forward for the welfare of underprivileged children.
Source: New Age