Bangladesh school’s self-help scheme stops children dropping out

In January 2019, the school launched its “two-taka bank” scheme. Each of the school’s 710 pupils deposit at least two taka (approximately equivalent to two US cents) each month. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 16 January 2020

Bangladesh school’s self-help scheme stops children dropping out

  • The scheme has already drawn attention and praise from local officials

DHAKA: When winter reached northern Bangladesh, Mondira Roy had to stop attending school because her parents could not afford warm clothes for her.

But, with her education at stake, a unique initiative led by her fellow pupils at Sharodeshwari Girls High School in Dinajpur saved the day.  

In January 2019, the school launched its “two-taka bank” scheme. Each of the school’s 710 pupils deposit at least two taka (approximately equivalent to two US cents) each month. They can then apply for an emergency loan — as eighth-grader Roy did — which will be granted based on a teacher’s recommendation.

“With his small wage, my father couldn’t provide me with (winter clothes),” Roy told Arab News. “Now I know our bank is here to provide assistance in times of emergency.”

Roy is not alone. Many other girls have avoided missing school thanks to this bank in which the students are stakeholders.

“Our students are very enthusiastic about the monthly deposit and two taka is a nominal amount for them. But it is a big support in times of emergency,” said assistant teacher Mohammad Musaddek Hosen, who initiated the scheme.  

Hosen was inspired to start the project when he found one of his students crying because she did not have the 100 taka ($1.20) to pay for her graduation exam.

“By the end of 2019, we had collected $360 and have already provided support to 80 underprivileged students with this little fund. We spent the money mostly on buying uniforms, notebooks, calculators and other educational stuff,” he said.

According to the school’s headmaster, Ratan Kumar Roy, the student dropout rate has decreased by 80 percent since the bank was established.

“Not everyone applies for support from this fund, but all students deposit their money. With this approach, we are trying to create a sense of (empathy) in the hearts of the students, which will make them good human beings,” he said.

The scheme has already drawn attention and praise from local officials too.  

“I examined the bank’s operation process in detail and found the idea very unique. I will replicate it at some other schools of my district within the year,” Dinajpur Commissioner Mahmudul Alam told Arab News.  

Meanwhile, the school has already launched a new self-help initiative for students: a shop in which the girls can sell handmade arts and crafts. Revenues are shared between makers and the two-taka bank.


UK PM Boris Johnson admitted to hospital with persistent coronavirus symptoms

Updated 16 min 55 sec ago

UK PM Boris Johnson admitted to hospital with persistent coronavirus symptoms

  • Johnson, 55, on March 27 became the first leader of a major power to announce that he had tested positive
  • News of his hospitalization came only after an hour after Queen Elizabeth delivered a rallying call to the British public

LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was admitted to hospital for tests on Sunday in what Downing Street said was a “precautionary step” because he was showing persistent symptoms of coronavirus 10 days after testing positive for the virus.
Johnson, who was isolating in Downing Street after testing positive last month, still had a high temperature and so his doctors felt he should go to hospital for tests. He remains in charge of the British government, his Downing Street office said.
“On the advice of his doctor, the prime minister has tonight been admitted to hospital for tests,” Downing Street said.
“This is a precautionary step, as the prime minister continues to have persistent symptoms of coronavirus ten days after testing positive for the virus,” the statement added.
News of his hospitalization came only after an hour after Queen Elizabeth delivered a rallying call to the British public saying they would overcome the coronavirus outbreak if they stayed resolute.
Johnson, 55, on March 27 became the first leader of a major power to announce that he had tested positive. He went into isolation at an apartment in Downing Street and said on Friday he was staying there as he still had a high temperature.
“Although I’m feeling better and I’ve done my seven days of isolation, alas I still have one of the symptoms, a minor symptom, I still have a temperature,” a weary-looking Johnson, sitting in a chair with his shirt open at the neck, said in a Twitter video message on Friday.
Downing Street underscored that this was not an emergency admission and that Johnson remains in charge of the government.
“Wishing the prime minister well and a speedy recovery,” Keir Starmer, the newly elected leader of the opposition Labour Party, said.
Johnson has faced criticism in the United Kingdom for initially approving a much more modest response to the novel coronavirus outbreak than other major European leaders.
But he swiftly changed tack when projections showed a quarter of a million people could die in the United Kingdom.
He effectively shuttered the world’s fifth-largest economy, advising people to stay at home and the elderly or infirm to isolate themselves for weeks.
But the virus penetrated the British government. Johnson and his health minister tested positive last month and his chief medical adviser also self isolated.
Carrie Symonds, Johnson’s 32-year-old pregnant fiancée, said on Saturday that she had spent the past week in bed with symptoms of the novel coronavirus but after seven days of rest felt stronger and was on the mend.
“The prime minister thanks NHS staff for all of their incredible hard work and urges the public to continue to follow the government’s advice to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives,” Downing Street said.
The United Kingdom’s death toll from the coronavirus rose by 621 to 4,934, the health ministry said on Sunday.