In Bangladesh formal primary schooling doesn’t start until the age of 6 years and even then there is competition for spaces and there are not spaces available for all children. The pre-school gives these children a much better chance of getting into the local primary schools at age 6 because they are already well ahead and used to the school environment.
We like to give you an idea on how some of those schools look like
19th March 2019
New preschool in Kumley
Finally we from 1 of a kind managed to make our way over to Bangladesh for the 15th time, which was most likely the most memorable trip in the last years. Arriving in Jessore, Rayhan and I were picked up from Shourove from http://www.basebangladesh.org/ to find out that we've met 2 years ago at a Fair Trade Show in Dortmund... I mean, what are the odds? In the middle of Bangladesh :)
So good to catch up, mate and thanks for the great work that you and your ladies have been doing for our 60th anniversary collection for Mini (BMW).
Another 3.5 hours in the car on bumpy roads we arrive in the beautiful village called Kumley, surrounded by lush green ponds, rice fields.
Approximately 20 students and their two teachers joined for the opening - obviously with the mums - and I could make a fool out of myself trying to scribble some words in বাঙালি on the white board, well, the kids wouldn't be able to read anyways :)
It was a humbling and very happy experience and there's more to come!
15th February 2017
New preschool in Shatkira
We love setting up a new preschool. It connects our vision of creating dignified work today with the vision of tomorrow through the children of the artisans. Pebble and Hathay Bunano are one big family. A fabulous collaboration which needs all of us in order to maximise everyone’s potential. That’s what I love about it most. Bernadette is our lovely distributor for Australia through her business Samana Living. She loves to visit Bangladesh to see the work of the artisans first hand and to take all that inspiration back to Australia to share with all the retailers that she’s selling to there. It’s so important that she feels the inspiration first hand in order to be able to pass on real stories and experiences.
And like any family the Pebble business, the Hathay Bunano artisans and the Pebble distributors around the world become extremely close and connected to one another. It is through this connectedness that Bernadette’s daughter, Clara, wanted to set up a preschool in Bangladesh in the memory of her friend Tahlia.
Tahlia’s preschool has been inaugurated by Bernadette and Clara in Satkhira. Currently there are 1600 Hathay Bunano artisans in this area. Before Hathay Bunano came to this area the women were dependent on the forest resources for their livelihoods. They would spend long days in saline water catching small larvae of shrimp from the river which they could sell to the local market. The long days in saline water caused many long term skin problems and the income they received was very small. Now these artisans no longer need to go to the river to catch fish, their skin problems have improved significantly and their husbands and families are happy with the income they can earn from making Pebble toys.
In Bangladesh primary school starts at 6 years but those of us who are mothers are acutely aware that children do so much learning before the age of 6 and from 3 to 6 years is a vital period of development for children. The new Tahlia’s Preschool has been opened in East Singhortoly at a centre where more than 50 women are working. The children are so happy to have this new facility and a teacher to encourage their learning. The enthusiasm of small children in Bangladesh never fails to amaze me. It’s like they understand from such a young age that education is so important and likely their ticket to a very different life with many more opportunities that their parents have.
The Pebble family also includes all you wonderful customers who continue to buy Pebble toys and support our cause and mission, who talk about fair trade and its importance and who spread the word for us around the world. Customers, retailers, distributors, Pebble, Hathay Bunano – it takes all of us to make this work. Thank you so much to Bernadette and Clara for bringing this opportunity to the children of East Singhortoly. What’s the saying? “It takes a village”. It really does.
10th August 2015
We were delighted this week to open a new preschool in Belkuchi, Sirajganj. Sirajganj is a char area with lots of small islands in the river. Life on the chars is particularly difficult because they are cut off from the mainland and there is little economic activity or opportunity on the chars. Getting to the mainland requires a boat trip and often the cost of this is prohibitive. So these people are really cut off, particularly in the monsoon as now when the river runs fast and it is not always safe to get to the mainland.
The Pebble distributor for the UK, Ireland, France and Scandinavia have funded this latest preschool in Belkuchi and you can see from the pictures that the children are delighted and so eager to learn. School in Bangladesh starts at 6 years old and so the Pebble preschools for the children of the Pebble artisans provides a really valuable learning experience for them before the age of 6. Their attendance at preschool also enables them to better get access to places at primary school when they reach 6 years because they are seen as good and trained students already.
This is the 8th Pebble preschool and we are excited to continue this programme to set them up alongside all the Pebble production centres around the country.
Not only education but the preschool also keeps the children safe while the mummies are working. The biggest killer of under 5s in Bangladesh is drowning. It’s a statistic which surprises many – who imagine it might be dysentery or other similar illness. Bangladesh is a delta region with many rivers and many more ponds and water bodies, none of which are cordoned off in any way and so sadly many children die every year after falling into these water bodies. It is particularly true on the char islands which are, of course, surrounded by a fast flowing river at this time of the year and so we are so happy to have this new preschool on Belkuchi, not just to educate the children and give them a better start in life but also, so fundamentally, to keep them safe.
Thank you so much to Liz and Gaynor, our wonderful distributors at Best Years Ltd .
12th February 2015
Update on the Best Years funded preschool
Back on 8th December 2014, I wrote a blog showing you the opening of a new preschool in the Sundarbans, funded by the customers of our UK distributor, Best Years Ltd. Liz and Gaynor were visiting Bangladesh from the UK and took the opportunity to open the school themselves while visiting the Hathay Bunano centres in that area.
Two months since opening, the preschool is now really thriving. The concept of a preschool was entirely new to the people of this area. Traditionally in Bangladesh children do not go to school until they are 6 years and children who are younger tend to just run around the village unsupervised. Whilst the thought that little ones can be completely free to run around is nice on the one hand, on the other hand, drowning is the single biggest killer of under 5s in Bangladesh. It’s a statistic that surprises many. Most people imagine that dysentery or diseases which cause dehydration, like Cholera or Typhoid, would be the biggest killers but they are not. Bangladesh is a delta region and as well as 3 huge rivers running their way through it to the Bay of Bengal there are many thousands of smaller rivers and tributaries, as well as lakes and ponds where fish are cultivated. When you drive around the countryside in Bangladesh in the dry season, it looks almost like the whole country is a river bed and of course, during the monsoon, much of it is flooded.
So creating preschools alongside our rural production centers is not just about educating children and giving them a good start and a better chance of getting into school at 6 years, it is also about keeping them safe while their mummies are working.
The children are all now aware of the routine of the preschool and happily attend every day. Friday is the weekend in Bangladesh and so on Friday it is closed. There is no curriculum for preschools in Bangladesh, because the concept isn’t really known here, but though our other preschools we have learnt and put together a basic curriculum that works. Challenging enough that the children are learning and with lots of fun because they are still very young.
The children learn both English and Bangla letters. There is a long history of speaking English in Bangladesh, back before independence and whilst Bangladesh fought for its independence on the basis of the language movement and having Bangla as the primary language, rather than Urdu, it is generally accepted that English is very useful if you want to get a job in the city or go to University and these days with the IT industry growing rapidly, it is recognised as very useful for computer programmers. It was great for me, when I first came to Bangladesh, because so many people I met spoke some English and so it helped me a lot in communicating and in learning Bangla.
It’s really a joy to see this little preschool thriving and the children enjoying the opportunity it offers and of course, knowing that they are safe while their mummies work.
I hope you enjoy this update on this lovely new little preschool. Thanks go to Best Years Ltd, the Pebble distributors for the UK, France, Scandinavia and Ireland for supporting this.
8th December 2014
Opening preschool sponsored by Best Years Ltd
We are so delighted and so grateful to all the customers of our UK wholesalers, Best Years Ltd, for collecting lots of small amounts from the retailers they supply in the run up to Christmas. All those small individual amounts have added up to enough to set up a new preschool alongside one of our centres in the Sundarbans and to run it for one year. This will make a huge difference to all the children who will attend this preschool.
The facilities in the Sundarbans are incredibly basic and the poverty is very severe. But with just GBP500, Hathay Bunano have been able to buy all the equipment and furniture, rent the space and pay the salary for a preschool teacher for one year. A little bit of money goes a long long way in Bangladesh.
Fifteen children are registered at the preschool and it will run every day in the mornings while the mummies are working in the production centre next door. This will make a huge difference to these children who will learn both English and Bangla letters and will start to learn to read and write. There are some primary schools in the area and Hathay Bunano will work with the local community once the children are 6 years old to try to get them into the local primary schools. Their eduction in the preschool will help them enormously in this process.
The money donated by Best Years Ltd and their customers is enough for all the books, pens, exercise books, posters, chairs and tables etc – everything that is needed to successfully run the school for one year, in addition to the teachers salary and the rent for the space. Currently the rented space is very basic and this is because of the general poverty in the area. Over time, as economic development occurs, with women earning money regularly, we will see improvements to the buildings in this area since this is generally one of the earliest priorities for women in rural Bangladesh to make their homes more safe, secure and comfortable.
After the first year, Hathay Bunano will continue to fund the preschool from within the profits it makes. Hathay Bunano is a non-profit organisation and so all profit made in this organisation is ploughed back into these type of community projects.
28th January 2014
New pre-school in Mudipara, Sirajganj
In September 2013 we set up a new pre-school at the HBPS centre in Mudipara, Sirajganj with the financial support of Hammem from the UK. With all the disruptions and political hartals (strikes) and oborodhs (blockades) in Bangladesh towards the end of last year, it was impossible for us to get up to the pre-school and take pictures and declare it officially open.
2014 has started more calmly and we are now able to move more easily around the country and so finally we have the update from the new pre-school. Despite all that, the pre-school has been running every day and the 20 children between the ages of 3 and 6 years who attend daily are learning and having fun. According to Jorina the teacher, 18 out of 20 children are already able to recognise all the alphabet and all the children know some rhymes and enjoy to sing and recite them.
It’s great to see the children engaged and safe and having fun while their mum’s are working next door at the HBPS rural production centre. In Bangladesh formal primary schooling doesn’t start until the age of 6 years and even then there is competition for spaces and there are not spaces available for all children. The pre-school gives these children a much better chance of getting into the local primary schools at age 6 because they are already well ahead and used to the school environment.
You can see a little video slideshow of the pre-school here.
We wish all these lovely children a joyous education and success, health and happiness in their lives.