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.


Briton jailed for coughing at policeman while claiming to have coronavirus

Updated 01 April 2020

Briton jailed for coughing at policeman while claiming to have coronavirus

  • Adam Lewis, 55, was convicted of assault over the incident, during which he claimed to have the virus and told a policeman I am going to cough in your face
  • The police constable, who was on cycle patrol in the central London borough of Westminster, had approached Lewis after being alerted to suspicious activity

LONDON: A man who coughed at a police constable and threatened to infect him with the coronavirus has been jailed for six months, London’s Metropolitan Police said on Wednesday.
Adam Lewis, 55, was convicted of assault over the incident, during which he claimed to have the virus and told the policeman “I am going to cough in your face and you will get it” then coughed directly at the officer.
The police constable, who was on cycle patrol in the central London borough of Westminster, had approached Lewis and asked to search him after being told by a member of the public that he was trying to open the doors of cars parked along the street.
As well as threatening and coughing at the officer, Lewis also smashed a bottle of wine on the floor during the incident, and threatened to bite in order to transmit an infectious disease.
“While these type of assaults are thankfully a rare occurrence, this incident was horrendous and if we do encounter this type of unacceptable behavior we will be robust in our response,” said Chief Superintendent Helen Harper of the Metropolitan Police’s Area West Command Unit.