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.


Pakistan shuts schools, suspends Iran flights to curb coronavirus spread

Updated 49 min 53 sec ago

Pakistan shuts schools, suspends Iran flights to curb coronavirus spread

  • Latin America sees its first confirmed case of coronavirus in Brazil
  • Two countries in Europe - Estonia and Germany - have announced on Thursday their first cases of the virus

ISLAMABAD/RIO DE JANEIRO: Pakistan on Thursday shut schools in several areas and suspended flights to and from Iran to try to stop the spread of new coronavirus, after reporting its first cases of the infection, officials said.
The South Asian nation bordering China and Iran, both of which have been hit hard by the virus, reported its first two cases on Wednesday.
Both people had recently travelled to Iran as part of large groups of pilgrims from Pakistan’s Shi’ite Muslim community. Health officials have said both were “stable.”
In Britain, the number of coronavirus infections has risen to 15 cases. Elsewhere, two countries in Europe - Estonia and Germany - have announced on Thursday their first cases of the virus.
Latin America meanwhile saw its first confirmed case of the new coronavirus spreading worldwide when Brazil’s government announced that a 61-year-old man who traveled to Italy this month had the virus.
The Brazilian man had spent two weeks in northern Italy’s Lombardy region on a work trip, where he contracted the contagious virus, the Health Ministry said Wednesday.
“Our health care system has already undergone grave respiratory epidemics before,” Brazil’s Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta said in a press conference. “We will get through this situation, investing in science, research and clear information.”
Since the COVID-19 virus began to spread throughout the world from China, Brazil and other countries in the region have registered dozens of suspected cases, all of which previously had been discarded following tests.
According to Brazil’s Health Ministry, the man began to show symptoms compatible with the illness, such as a dry cough, throat pain and flu symptoms. Lombardy is the center of the outbreak in Italy, and there have been hundreds of confirmed cases there as well as several deaths.
Sao Paulo’s Albert Einstein Institute, where the man received medical attention, carried out respiratory tests, and the Adolfo Lutz Institute in the same city carried out the subsequent test confirming the virus The man was in stable condition and in isolation at home in Sao Paulo.


Brazil’s national health agency Anvisa has been working to map all contact the man had with others, and on Tuesday requested the manifest of the flight he took to investigate other possible cases.
The Health Ministry said that the man received some 30 family members at his home after returning to Sao Paulo on Feb. 21. Those people are under observation, as are with passengers from the plane.

In Sydney, Australia’s prime minister said the country considered the new coronavirus to be a pandemic Thursday, going a step beyond the WHO as he extended a travel ban on visitors from China.

Announcing a national emergency response plan to the contagion, Scott Morrison said he was considering “additional measures” for monitoring travelers arriving in the country.

“We’re effectively operating now on the basis that there is one — a pandemic,” Morrison said. “We believe the risk of a global pandemic is very much upon us.” Australia has reported 22 infections, but none that were contracted or passed from person-to-person inside the country.

Morrison’s warning comes as he scrambles to burnish his leadership credentials after fierce criticism of his handling of the months-long bushfire crisis. His government is also embroiled in a deepening political scandal over the funneling of taxpayer money into areas his coalition targeted in last year’s election.

Meanwhile, South Korea reported 171 more cases of the new virus on Thursday, bringing its total number of infections to 1,766.