A study conducted by the Dhaka University's Institute of Education and Research found that Friendship, a social-purpose organization, has shown significant success in expanding the reach of education in char areas in the northern part of Bangladesh.
During an international webinar on the findings of the study, Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni lauded the success of the Friendship as exemplary.
The Education Minister also spoke about the overall cooperation in the expansion of education in remote areas, said a press release from Friendship on Thursday.
The study that started in October 2019, reported a major change in the educational status of 15 unions of six upazilas in Gaibandha and Kurigram.
Lives of about 150,000 residents in this remote area have gained momentum as the women and adolescents of the chars have become career-oriented and self-reliant due to the education received from Friendship Schools.
Awareness regarding social issues has also significantly increased, especially in the prevention of child marriage and dowry. The curriculum of Friendship Schools also includes a "Code of Ethics", regarding sound moral and ethical values and good, lawful citizenship.
Most importantly, the public examination results of the students are exemplary, proving the effectiveness of Friendship's methods.
The research report also makes some recommendations to expand upon this triumphant journey of education in the char areas.
Funding is important to ensure continuous and uninterrupted education services in remote areas; therefore, government and non-government administrations and agencies at the national and local levels were urged to be more active in their participation.
Prevention of child marriage also must be given importance to prevent students from dropping out of school. Therefore, the report advised local administration and social leaders to work closely with Friendship, which is already working towards these goals.
In the case of secondary education, the report recommended making remote learning more appealing to the students through information technology, especially in the context of the global pandemic.
The research report also called for further inclusion of the Code of Ethics and other social awareness initiatives, such as "Clean Home" and "Clean School," and nodes of the curriculum in government-run schools.
Runa Khan, founder, and executive director of Friendship gave a welcome address at the webinar.
She expressed her satisfaction in the expansion of primary and secondary education through her interventions, improving the quality of life and standards of living of the marginalised people of chars.
She also expressed her desire for further cooperation from all stakeholders to continue spreading the light of education.
Head of Education of Friendship, Brigadier General (retired) Ilyas Iftekhar Rasul moderated the webinar and Friendship International Co-chairman, Mark Elvinger presided over the session.
Mia Seppo, the UN resident coordinator at UN Office in Bangladesh, attended the event as the chief guest. He spoke of the role of the UN in enabling education around the world, as well as in Bangladesh, and the importance of cooperation between all stakeholders.
The webinar's guest panelists were also optimistic about the state of education and the avenues for its further improvement.
The panelists were Prof Dr Syed Md Golam Faruk, director general, Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education; Manuel Tonnar, director of Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, Luxembourg; Prof Nazmul Haq of Dhaka University; Roland Nissfolk of ERIKS Development Partners, Sweden; Merel Schreurs, adviser of the Board of Stichting Weeshuis der Doopsgezinden, Netherlands, and Prof Dr Saleemul Haq of International University of Bangladesh.
Representatives from the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Primary and Mass Education, UNICEF, Save the Children, International development partners across seven countries, international Friendship entities and various education stakeholders participated in the webinar.
Professor Dr Md Abdul Maleque, director of the Institute of Education and Research, Dhaka University, and Associate Professor Shah Shamim Ahmed of the same institute, highlighted various aspects and achievements in the expansion of education in the char areas of Gaibandha-Kurigram.