Charkachikata Union, which is surrounded by river Padma, is situated approximately 23 km away from Vedorganj Upazila, a sub district of Bangladesh. Approximately 30,000 people live in this union, which lacks basic facilities such as proper healthcare, good communication, education, etc. Since the union is surrounded by river Padma, the only means of transportation from the union to Upazila is by boat. Moreover, due to the absence of good transport and communication, the union is deprived of a proper educational institution. Therefore, the children there spend time fishing and working in fields instead of going to school.
In 2009, the SHIKHON Program of Save the Children, funded by Dubai Cares, along with implementing partner Jagarani Chakra Foundation (JCF), started the establishment of a NFPE school in this union. The school was established in Matha Bhanga village and was called Khanbari SHIKHON School. SHIKHON ended in 2012 but education for children of Charkachikata Union did not end. Khan Bari SHIKHON School is now run by the local community.
In November 30, 2012, a program closing meeting was held and field staff discussed the program closing issues with the School Management Committee (SMC) members and parents. During this meeting, the SMC members and parents announced their decision to continue the operation of SHIKHON School. They also added that before SHIKHON School was established, their children used to work in fields and go fishing. However, after the school was established, their children were getting educated, participating in government exams and attaining better results. Therefore, for a better future of their children, they decided to continue operation of the school even after SHIKHON leaves their union.
Developmental Challenges in Bangladesh
Bangladesh faces tremendous development challenges. According to national statistics, Bangladesh is one of the poorest countries in the world, with approximately half the population living below the poverty line and 44% living on less than USD 1 a day. Despite impressive gains in education in the last decade, 3 to 4 million of the 19 million children of primary school age in Bangladesh still do not have access to primary education.
Dubai Cares Programs in Bangladesh
To make a difference, Dubai Cares is currently working in Bangladesh in partnership with Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) on a pilot school feeding program. This program is supported by the Government of Bangladesh to improve the education and nutrition of children in the age group of 5 to 11 years old from vulnerable families in approximately 45 schools in the capital Dhaka and in Mymensing District. The program represents a USD2.5 million (AED9.2 million) commitment from Dubai Cares.