Mothers meet with the organizers of Chakma learning centres for young children to discuss their children’s welfare before the school started. Photo contributed by Saifuzzaman Rana.
Research Initiatives, Bangladesh is a research support organization which specializes in Participatory Action Research. Over the eight years of its existence (see www.rib-bangladesh.org) it has developed certain tools through which to reach out to the marginalized and impoverished through empowering the community. The Kajoli Early Childhood learning cenres have been part of this . These are centres where pre-school aged children of impoverished families engage in learning activities in a way that is fun and low-cost at the same time. Around 180 such centres exist all over Bangladesh and teh centres are sustained by teh community. Mothers of each children take turns in feeding the children. More information is available at www.rib-kajolimodel.org
Recently Kajoli centres were initiated in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), a region where 14 different ethnic groups of indigenous people live. It has been a region of turmoil, with a history of rebellious movement against militarization and a demand for regional autonomy. Th CHT Accord of 1997 between the Government of Bangladesh and the Shanti Bahini remains to be implemented in full. The people of the region has not been idle. One of their demands was to enable the teaching of mother tongue in their local schools.Instead of waiting for the Government they with teh support of RIB has taken the initiative to translate the “pocketboard” a learning tool used in Kajoli centres in the Chakma language and propagate this through community outreach method adopted by Kajoli centres. At the moment there are three such centres operating in Khagrachhori, teh northernmost district of the CHT.