Bangladeshi Youth Leader Opens First Elementary School in her Community

December 16, 2014
 Why does Counterpart invest in leadership development? Because passion and vision, with the right tools and resources, can create lasting change for generations.
In Mymensingh Sadar, Bangladesh, students entering middle school have to take enrollment exams. And yet, with the only elementary school more than two miles away and too far for children to walk, many of the children from this community received no primary education and were unprepared for the exam, causing many to not enroll in middle school.
One young woman, Sabina, decided to bridge this gap. As a college student studying Education and a graduate of Counterpart’s Leadership Development Program, Sabina used her teaching experience and the skills she learned in the leadership training to open the first elementary school in her community.
“Without early education, there was a whole generation of kids whose learning had ended before it began,” said Sabina. “I didn’t want them to give up. I want to prepare them to continue their educations so they’ll have a better chance at a happy life.”
Sabina rented classroom space, ordered books and supplies and walked door-to-door talking to parents about the importance of education and inviting them to enroll their children in her school. In her inaugural kindergarten class, she taught reading, writing and counting to 20 girls and 10 boys.
Students pay an annual enrollment fee of 250 taka (about $4) to cover costs. Sabina expects these fees, along with increasing community investment, will allow the school to grow with more students enrolling.  Sabina has also applied to the municipal council for resources to improve the school building, including building a bathroom.
Sabina knows it’s critical to get families involved in their children’s learning and encourages their assistance at the school.  Parents say their children’s knowledge of key subjects, especially math, has improved.
“Before, my children spent every day playing,” said Harunur Rashid, whose two sons attend Sabina’s school. “Now they’re excited to learn because they enjoy her classes. They even get ready on their own.”
Sabina plans to teach students through the fourth grade. She has coordinated with the middle school in her community and other schools in surrounding towns to ensure her curriculum complies with the government’s Primary School Certificate exam.
Sabina has overcome challenges to become a true architect of change in her community, ensuring that children there will have the education they need to build better lives and more durable futures.

Program: Counterpart’s Leadership Development Program (LDP)
Funded By: United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
Partners: Bangladesh Ministry of Youth and Sports
This story is a part of our #LeadMore series, a weekly story recognizing our local partners and community leaders.
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