From zero to 320 students since 2006; the establishment of GEMS (Golgotha Baptist English Medium School) has been quite a challenging journey. The school resides in a few rooms on top of a church in Dhaka city. Most days it is full of children—noisy, excitable and full of energy. Every space is taken up with something or someone (we even have people sitting on the stairs).
The little ones (three to five years), are cuteness and liveliness in equal portions. The primary school (six to 12 years) enjoy themselves learning in a more traditional way (New Zealand perspective) or in a scary ‘creative’ way (Bangladesh perspective). The secondary school is small and challenging; turning English Second Language kids into students who are capable of an international exam is a huge ask which causes me to pull my hair out regularly.
The 2011 establishment of CSCC (Collectorate School and College of Chandpur) was a miracle—the local Government approached us asking that we turn an old jail into a school.
At CSCC, we have about 340 students, a beautiful campus, an outside playground, a garden, and a climate so damp and humid our resources are often covered in mould! This school has been set up with mostly Muslim staff (Bangladesh is 90% Muslim) who we have trained. The teachers are educated and caring but use an archaic learning by rote system; this has meant considerable work to impart the vision and skills needed to encourage real learning.
The latest in CSCC is our special needs unit. The region has nothing for students who are intellectually disabled, severely autistic, or have other forms of disability. We started with four students, but the authorities have suggested 70. That’s another huge challenge and I predict another rollercoaster ride ahead.
BEST (Bangladesh Education Services and Training), our third project, is even bigger. We aim to provide e-learning for thousands of students without access to good schools and teachers—watch this space.
Education opens the doors to input into the lives of young people, both students and teachers. Please pray for the positive effect New Zealand Baptists can have on Bangladesh. And, if you are a teacher looking for adventure, why not come and join us?
Our global worker, Cindy.