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Getting to school

My last post was about Concern’s work with schools in Bangladesh. With the dust still settling on Global Education Week, it’s perhaps fitting that we take a closer look at this topic.

Concern Bangladesh works mainly with schools in the Shariatpur district. The schools in this area have some of the lowest attendance rates in the country. Also, despite being an extremely poor area, there are no other international aid agencies working in Shariatpur.

For three years, Concern worked with 30 schools in the area. Now this work is expanding to cover a grand total of 150 schools. The goal of this work is to ensure that the poorest children have access to quality education.

Obstacles

 There are, however, a huge number of obstacles standing in the way of this goal. One of these is that many children simply cannot afford to go to school. There are many hidden costs (books, pens, registration, examination fees, suitable clothing, and transportation to scholarship exams) that prevent children from attending.

Shariatpur is also one of the most flooded areas in what is an extremely flood-prone country. For several months at a time, the floods can make it impossible for many children to go to school

A lot of problems come hand-in-hand with being poor. For instance, many young children in Bangladesh are malnourished. This sets them at a real disadvantage for doing well in their studies. Also, many of the poorest mothers have never attended school themselves and are unaware of the importance of exam dates and other events.

Added to these issues is the fact that almost 10,000 Bangladeshi schools were damaged by Cyclone Sidr last November.

An insurmountable goal?

With all these obstacles taken into account, achieving the aims of the project may seem like an insurmountable goal. How is Concern managing to deal with these issues, I hear you cry. Find out in the next post.