BANGLADESH

Brighter Future – Moulvibazar Education Program

In Bangladesh, 74% of families living on tea plantations are below the poverty line, living on low wages, in a situation of marginalization and exploitation. Even children are often employed in work. In 2010, the Marist Brothers in Bangladesh initiated the first cooperation projects for the development of local communities that provided schools with educational material, student texts, and school uniforms. They also carried out small-scale repairs of school buildings in collaboration with the local Diocese.

The districts of Sreemangol and Moulovibazar are within the Sylhet division, which has the lowest human development index in the country: the level of literacy is even lower among tea workers and their communities. There are primary schools within the districts, but there are very few secondary schools compared to the high number of school-age children in the area. Moreover, due to the poverty of families Moreover, due to the poverty of families and the great distance of schools from the villages, school is often even more inaccessible.

Today, St. Marcellin School in Giasnogor is an important local reality: it provides access to secondary education for children from communities living on tea plantations and promotes programs to improve the health of the population in the area. The school is supported thanks to contributions from the Conferenza Episcopale Italiana (Italian Bishops’ Conference), Kindermissionswerk, the Marist Province Ibérica and Australian Marist Solidarity. The hospitality facilities for students at the St. Marcellin School have been expanded and a transport service has been organized from the villages to ensure the attendance of children living away from the school, for a total of 350 students per year.

The Brighter Future project aims to help children and adolescents in tea plantation communities in the Moulvibazar area exercise their right to education and to live a life free from all forms of slavery: the main beneficiaries of this initiative are mainly children whose parents have been systematically exploited on the tea plantations for generations.

The project aims to increase school enrolment rates (especially for the most vulnerable children or who are living in the most remote areas of the district) and teachers’ ability to provide curricula relevant to the needs of the most vulnerable children. Two programs have also been implemented to prevent diseases and improve the quality of nutrition of the local population. During the Covid-19 pandemic that hit Bangladesh hard, part of the budget was spent on food distribution to the families most in need during the lockdown. The project was funded by Misean Cara in 2014 and 2019.

In 2018, TV 2000 traveled to the Moulvibazar region to visit the St. Marcellin School in Giasnogor and meet Brother Eugenio Sanz. We thank TV 2000 for the beautiful material they have produced.

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Photos: TV2000 / FMSI