Female students had no better transport to go to the school in Shalbari village of Niamatpur upazila in Naogaon. They used to go to school on foot. Like many other conventional Bangladesh villagers, just two years back, people of Shalbari could never imagine that girls can ride bicycle.
The picture has changed now. Girls go to the school, Gurihari-Kamdebpur Alor Pathshala, riding bicycles. This saves their time and has helped increase the total number of attendance in the classes.
The teachers of the school said, bicycle has changed lives of the girls.
An English medium school in Dhaka, Sunnydale School, has donated the bicycles to the students, said the school’s headmaster Nur Alam.
The girls have ensured cent per cent attendance rate and are doing good in the exams, the proud teacher said.
Incidentally, Prothom Alo Trust built the school in the remote village in 2016. It is the only high school for the students of 10 villages nearby.
Initially the school managing committee talked to local people to know their opinions about the girls’ riding bicycle. It was decided that the student who will use the bicycle will return it to the school authorities once she is passed. That one will be given to another student.
The students doing better in exams and coming to school from distant areas receive the cycle on priority. The flock of girls now go to the school riding bicycles. No one teases them anymore.
There are 103 students in the school. Of them 57 are girls. As many as 30 girls have received the bicycles so far.
“When we received the bicycles, only one female student knew how to ride it. Later, seventh grader Noorjahan Khatun trained other students,” headmaster Nur Alam told Prothom Alo.
Noorjahan said she had learnt to ride using her father’s bicycle. “When we received bicycles from the school, I was the happiest girl,” she told the Prothom Alo correspondent.
Earlier, Noorjahan had to walk more than three kilometres everyday to reach school. Now she goes to the school with other girls riding cycle.
Another student, Sumaiya Khatun, lives in Chachaibari village in the upazila, some five kilometres away from the school. She also goes to school riding bicycle.
“My daughter had to go to school by foot. It was very tiresome. Now she has got the bicycle and her sufferings ended,” said Sumaiya’s father Saibar Ali.
Masud Rana, one of the persons who took initiative to build the school, and a member of Prothom Alo Bandhushabha, said, many girls used to drop out due to the long distance and many were married.
Considering these problems, Masud Rana requested Prothom Alo for arranging bicycles for the female students.
“Hopefully, the dropout rate will decrease now,” he added.
*The report, originally published in the print edition of Prothom Alo, has been rewritten in English by Farjana Liakat