Lessons in breaking down barriers

Blogs article written on the 21 Oct 2013

Multilingual preschools in Bangladesh are breaking down barriers to education — and helping Indigenous children attend mainstream primary schools.

The multilingual education system began when Oxfam developed a curriculum to introduce pre-primary school indigenous children to the Bangla alphabet. The program was piloted in 1999 and expanded after 2004. By 2010, the number of pre-primary schools and language centres reached 186 and eight respectively, covering 11 districts and delivered in six indigenous languages.

The long-term advantages provided ample evidence of the program’s success. Students who had completed pre-primary school (PPS) language training achieved higher grades in school-level examinations, and had a school attendance rate average of 95 per cent.

Students doing their lessons in Mominpur Preschool — one of 200 centres Oxfam supports in Bangladesh. Photo: Tania Cass

Students doing their lessons in Mominpur Preschool — one of 200 centres Oxfam supports in Bangladesh. Photo: Tania Cass

It's as easy as 'ABC' at Mominpur Preschool. Photo: Tania Cass

It’s as easy as ‘ABC’ at Mominpur Preschool. Photo: Tania Cass

Students of Muraripur Preschool line up outside the school with their teacher Sumitra Pana. "Earlier children were hesitant. They were scared...now they are more confident." Photo: Tania Cass

Students of Muraripur Preschool line up outside the school with their teacher Sumitra Pana. “Earlier children were hesitant. They were scared…now they are more confident.” Photo: Tania Cass

Rita Baroar, 5 years old with her friend, doing lessons at Muraripur Preschool. Photo: Tania Cass

Rita Baroar, 5 years old with her friend, doing lessons at Muraripur Preschool. Photo: Tania Cass

Mominpur Preschool students proudly hold their workbooks. Photo: Tania Cass

Mominpur Preschool students proudly hold their workbooks. Photo: Tania Cass

Mominpur Preschool students with their mothers and members of the school committee. "The [program] is available and accessible...After one year in the preschool the children are more confident," says Onimar Kuju (centre right, with her son Shojip Tipki). Photo: Tania Cass

Mominpur Preschool students with their mothers and members of the school committee. “The [program] is available and accessible…After one year in the preschool the children are more confident,” says Onimar Kuju (centre right, with her son Shojip Tipki). Photo: Tania Cass

Nuawati Ekha and her daughter Durga Lakma who is a student of Mominpur Preschool. Photo: Tania Cass

Nuawati Ekha and her daughter Durga Lakma who is a student of Mominpur Preschool. Photo: Tania Cass

Sumitra Pana, teacher at Muraripur Preschool with the teacher's committee in front of the school. Photo: Tania Cass

Sumitra Pana, teacher at Muraripur Preschool with the teacher’s committee in front of the school. Photo: Tania Cass