Idris Ali, who teaches history at a government college, has launched an unconventional school to spread the light of education among dropout students in the coastal areas of Satkhira.
The School of Humanity has no specific classroom. Classes take place every Friday from 3pm to 5pm in an abandoned shed at Patakhali Bazar in Shyamnagar upazila. It has created a buzz in the area.
Tasfirul Islam, a seven-year-old son of Sarafat Hossain, is a regular student of the school.
Sarafat, a tea seller at Patakhali Bazar, became crippled after falling off a tree.
He said, "We are poor. Our son went to a local primary school until class-II. After I became crippled, my son had to drop out."
"I enrolled my son in the School of Humanity two months ago," Sarafat said adding that the boy now helps him at the tea shop.
At least 30 dropout students like Tasfirul attend classes at the school.
Idris Ali, a lecturer at the Satkhira Government College, runs the school from social and humanitarian responsibility.
He said, "The poor children of the coastal areas are deprived of education for many reasons. They grow up amidst an adverse environment. They had dropped out of the mainstream educational institutes due to family and economic constraints."
"Our aim is to educate the dropout students and send them back to mainstream schools. We give basic education to those who have little hope of continuing their study."
The school has four advisers – Ataur Rahman, chairman of Padmapukur Union Parishad; Yasin Ali, English teacher of Patakhali Madrasa; GM Mahmudunnabi, teacher of a local primary school; and Abdullah Al Masud, an expatriate living in Malaysia.
Besides giving them directives on running the school, the advisers provide financial help.
The school imparts education through different entertaining activities. It shows students age-appropriate educational videos and grabs their attention.
There are also some interactive learning programmes for creating basic ideas about mathematics among the students through different games and riddles.
They encourage students to study through songs, comics and acting. The school also inspires students to read short stories with pictorials besides showing them videos and cartoons.
They also reward students and give food after classes through a game or knowledge related competition for 10 minutes. This is how the school inspires dropout students to resume their study.
Idris Ali, talking about the aim of the school, said, "We follow an alternative approach to educate the underprivileged and dropout students. Our aim is to create an interest among students in education and send them back to mainstream schools. Also, we aim to engage them in awareness-building programmes on protection of the Sundarbans and climate change-related issues."
"We want to change the life of dropout students in the coastal areas through these activities."
Ataur Rahman, an adviser to the school, said the people in the coastal belts have lost everything to natural disasters and most of them are poor and underprivileged.
"Due to poverty, they cannot send their children to school. Hence, the children get engaged in work from childhood for earning a livelihood."
He said, "The School of Humanity gives opportunity to dropout students to start schooling afresh. Now 30 students attend the school and the number may rise."
It is a matter of regret that the local authorities were unaware of the great initiative until this correspondent communicated with the Shyamnagar upazila nirbahi officer for his comment.
M Kamruzzaman said, "We did not have any information about the school. We have learned about it for the first time."
"The initiative is really appreciable. The upazila administration will enquire about the school and then evaluate if there is any chance to help the school by the government."