Primary schools around Tangail have begun transforming into colourful structures and each is being equipped with brand new multimedia classrooms, libraries and playgrounds.
According to officials, around one fifth of the 1,623 government primary schools in the 12 upazilas of the district have already been renovated to a certain extent. A modern classroom experience is being packaged in wonderful murals and paintings bringing life to previous dull grey walls.
The work is being done under the “Excellent Schools" project, which has the slogan "Amader Bidyalay, Amrai Gorbo (Our School, Our Pride).” The initiative which began in January 2018 is the brainchild of the district primary education officer Md Abdul Aziz.
His model has also garnered national attention. At the Innovation Fair-2018, organised by the Directorate of Primary Education, the Tangail model was selected among the best five innovations, said Merina Akter, assistant upazila education officer in the upazila.
Abdul Aziz himself was also selected at the fair as the best district primary education officer at divisional level for his innovation.
He began the project soon after joining his post in 2017, but the seeds for the idea were sown a long time ago.
"I got the idea while working as an upazila education officer at Bishwanath upazila in Sylhet. There, the local expatriate guardians approached me and offered their support for the development work of some of the local schools," Aziz said to this correspondent.
"When I joined as Tangail's district primary education officer, I motivated the local education officials, as well as the headmasters of the schools, to implement the ideas," he said.
He said the schools were being renovated through funds provided by locals and using the annual government allocation when required.
“The locals are being made to realise that they too own the schools and thus are part of its development process. They give donations while the government gives Tk 40,000 as an annual fund to every primary school, some of which we can use if needed,” he said.
Locals have responded to the initiative, as can be told by the progress of the project.
Abdul Aziz, an ex-student as well as ex-headmaster of Suti Model Government Primary School in Gopalpur, donated Tk 10,000 for giving his school a new look.
"When I was a teacher of the school, I realised that despite the will, the school authorities cannot improve the school due to lack of funds. I, along with others, donated some money for implementing the initiative to make the school interesting for the children," Abdul said.
Meanwhile, Aziz maintains though that the primary objective of the initiative is to create a sense of ownership among all the stakeholders (e.g. guardians, former students, managing committee members).
Besides renovation of the schools, new clubs have also been created, awareness campaigns on hygiene ran and awards handed out to the best student, guardian and donor, he said.
"We could install multimedia in some schools that had projectors. But since almost all the schools in the district were already supplied laptops by the government, multimedia would be set up for the rest of them by this year,” Aziz said.
Moreover, Shaheed Minars are being constructed in all the schools which did not have one before, he added.
Visiting some of the schools under the project, it is evident that the changes have brought forward a more enthusiastic and determined mood for both teachers and students.
"I am so happy to see that students liked the new look and are attending classes happily," said Anju Ara Moyna, headmistress of Noyapara Government Primary School.
Sakib Khan, a grade-three student of Berabuchona Government Primary School, said he now looked forward to coming to his wonderfully decorated school. Parents have also said their children were more eager to come to school than before.