Bangladesh, like all nations, has its set of challenges. Bangladesh’s Development Forum acknowledges that the most effective solution for many of these challenges is to create opportunities for the poor, which will empower them. Consider poor children here. 50% of Bangladeshis are under the age of 15, and millions of these children are growing up in poverty. Certainly, one of Bangladesh’s major concerns is educating the large population of needy children.
Consider what the term "education inequality" looks like in Bangladesh. The term’s meaning is not the same in first-world countries where education facilities are bright, resources are up-to-date, and teachers are well-paid. Here in Bangladesh, people of lower status have lower expectations, however students and parents still long for an education.
In Bangladesh’s city slum areas, in rural poor areas, in tribal hill-tracts, education inequality is not simply lack of access to pre-schools or higher education. Rather, many children here have no access to any schools. Families have no resources; many schools have few supplies. Nationally, districts in which AOB operates have a lower literacy rate, because a majority of the people do not speak Bangla as their mother tongue. Internationally, statistics reveal that parents’ incomes have a correlation with their children’s academic achievement. As AOB personnel visit villages, schools, and homes, major academic disparities glare at us. Is there hope?
AOB works to offer hope. Bangladesh Development Forum agrees that development partners are strategic in development efforts. We are development workers uniquely positioned to respond to education inequality.
We presently have one large formal education project, Memorial Christian School, located on Memorial Christian Hospital’s campus, providing quality education of the children of the hospital staff and surrounding community. We also run three tutorial centers and thirteen non-formal education centers for underprivileged children, offering a simple, flexible learning style that can be done any place convenient for area families: on a community leader’s front porch, in a family’s front yard, or in the neighborhood community center.
We seek to surround our students with a culture of excellence; our teachers, too, expect high results. To reach this goal, AOB invests in regular teacher training. Through library, arts, and physical education AOB works, too, to enhance the quality of education.
Through our education programs, we live out our faith by working alongside families. We want to love others and their children, as we love ourselves and our children.
If we don’t do it, who will?