Sidratul Muntaha, a fifth-grade student of Sirajpur Government Primary School in Companiganj upazila of Noakhali, could not read Bangla and English properly even one and half a years ago.
But now she can read, write and speak both the languages fairly enough for a fifth grader, thanks to the relentless effort of her school teachers who have been taking different initiatives to make the school a centre for standard education.
In recognition of their activities, Sirajpur Government Primary School was awarded as the best school in Companiganj in 2019. Educationists said the school is a sign of hope in the gloomy picture of the country's primary education sector.
Muntaha, along with her fellow students, have also been learning different extracurricular activities such as debating, gardening and cleanliness in the school. They are learning about the history of Bangladesh and taking a lesson on how to be an honest human being with integrity and humanity.
"Our teachers love us very much. They teach us like they are our friends. The environment of the school is lovely. I like to go to school every day," said Muntaha, adding, "We have learnt what we should do in our daily life, including respecting seniors and not tell a lie."
Visiting the school on January 18, 2020, The Business Standard found that the academic building is painted in red and green, the colours of our national flag. Many quotations taken from speeches and writings of great people are written on the walls.
The school ground, corridors and rooms were neat and clean. The students were also well-dressed.
In a room, a student was seen teaching other students. Later it was found that he was a "Bondhu Shikkhak." A Bondhu Shikkhak is a student selected by the teachers every month to teach the weaker ones of the class.
The teachers said that once the students were reluctant to come to school. Most of the guardians were unaware of their children's study and the school's overall environment was also not very satisfactory.
But in the last one and half year, the school was transformed into an ideal educational institution.
In the middle of 2018, the teachers led by the headmaster Quamrul Islam Rashed, who joined the school at the end of 2017 from the Bangladesh Civil Service (BCS) non-cadre post, took some special initiatives to make the school an exemplary one in the country.
They launched different activities such as Sheikh Rasel English Language Club, Sheikh Rasel Debating Group, Student of the Week, Mothers' Club, Sotota Store, Mohanubhabotar Deyal, Students' Council, Alumni Association, One Day One Word programme, Bondhu Shikkhak, Amie Sheikh Rasel, Biddyaloy Bondhu and Esho Nijeke Dekhi.
"We emphasise on the students' learning ability. Our students complete their textbook in the classroom. Everyone from Class III to V can read both Bangla and English properly. Our target is to build the school as an ideal one," said Qamrul Islam Rashed, the headmaster of the school.
"A student must perform 10 activities every day. Some of the activities are coming to school regularly, completing every day's learning, doing a good job, cleaning the school garden, wearing clean dresses both in school and at home," he said.
Salma Akter, a guardian, said, "The most important initiative is the mothers' club. Mothers hold a meeting with the teachers every Thursday. We place our recommendations and the teachers give directions on how to develop our children's performance," she said.
Md Abdul Motaleb, assistant thana education officer of Companiganj, said, "The school's initiative and strategy to build the future generation is the best. It has been gaining a hundred percent pass rate over the last few years."
Educationists of the country welcomed the initiative of the teachers of Sirajpur Government Primary School. They said the school proved that it is possible to ensure quality education in all the primary school of the country in a few years.
Manzoor Ahmed, professor emeritus of Brac University, said, "Learning time for primary students in the developed countries is 1,000 hours per year, but it is less than 500 hours in Bangladesh. But Sirajpur Government Primary School is an example of how to produce quality next generation."
"The government is building good infrastructures at the primary schools and is appointing better teachers. Now we need good leaders. Everything is available in the schools to make them world standard," he said.
Rasheda K Choudhury, executive director of Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE), said, "We are fighting for a long time for primary schools where the children will take education with joy and willingly come to school every day."