‘We shall overcome’ is the strident slogan of ‘Gyaner Pathshala’, the exceptional school for extracurriculum activities set in Dahorpara village of Guthia union parisad in Wazirpur upazila, Barishal. Students can enroll in the school for just 10 taka.
The school has with more than 200 students who study there for free.
Students from Class VI to X grade study English language, religious education, music, first aid, and they take part in debate competitions, quiz contests, prepare for oral tests and learn techniques to enhance their creativity.
Organiser and founder of the school Arif Mollah is a second year student of Barisal Government Syed Hatem Ali College and lives in Dahorpara village.
“This is the time of excessive competition. Institutional education is not enough for the students from the villages to compete in the race,” said Arif.
“Village students generally lag behind in colleges, universities, medical and engineering institutions. The objective of ‘Gyaner Pathshala’ is to equip the students in general knowledge and extracurricular activities besides regular studies,” he added.
As many as 11 university students from various educational institutions are with Arif Mollah in this endeavour.
Incidentally, the school celebrated its first anniversary on 6 September.
The chairman of the managing committee of the school, Raisa Zaman, also a student of Shahid Abdur Roub Serniabad Teachers Training College, said she came across many difficulties while taking the Dhaka University admission test.
“Rural students restrict themselves to the syllabus curriculum while urban students take part in activities like debates, practicing general knowledge and many other things that lead them to success in higher studies, “ she told Prothom Alo.
Her failure to study in Dhaka University motivated her to join in the initiative with Arif Mollah.
‘Gyaner Pathshala’ has no classroom of its own. The organiser teaches the students every Thursday and Friday at a classroom of Samadia Darul Ulum Madrasa in the area.
The school has a library in the madrasa building that contains a significant number of books, nearly 1,000, including history of language movement and liberation war of our country. The library is open for everyone.
As the number of students grows, the organisers are facing difficulty to accommodate them and provide them with logistic support. The organisers bear all costs themselves.
A Class X student of a local secondary school, Shilpi Khanam, said she got admitted to ‘Gyaner Pathshala’ for extracurricular activities.
“Our teacher said, regular education can make us good students but cannot guarantee being a good human being,” she told Prothom Alo.
Assistant headmaster of Dahorpara Samadia Secondary School, Rafiqur Rahman said, ‘Gyaner Pathshala’ is really spreading the light of knowledge in this area.
“Had we conveyed the message of this school across the country, our society would be enlightened and the country would move forward and the students in remote rural areas would be able to develop their skills,” he added.
Secretary general of the ‘Gyaner Pathshala’ managing committee, Afrin Jahan, said the number of students in the school is increasing little by little. Efforts will be made to expand the activities of the school, she added.
Wazirpur upazila secondary education officer, Sahidul Islam said, "I know about this school. This is a great initiative for the spreading knowledge among the new generation.”
*This piece appeared in the print edition of Prothom Alo has been rewritten in English by Farjana Liakat