Mobile school brings career hopes to deprived Bangladeshi children

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Students taking classes in a mobile school bus at Mirpur, Dhaka. (AN photo)
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Students taking classes in a mobile school bus at Mirpur, Dhaka. (AN photo)
Updated 23 January 2019
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Mobile school brings career hopes to deprived Bangladeshi children

  • Bus is turned into classroom for 50 students
  • First youngsters set to graduate this year

DHAKA: A bus converted into a mobile classroom is proving just the ticket for underprivileged children in the Bangladeshi capital.
Youngsters living in some of Dhaka’s most deprived areas are being given the chance of an education, thanks to the innovative learning scheme. 
Funded by one of the country’s largest business conglomerates, Akij Group, the mobile school has brought career hopes to the doors of scores of poverty-stricken children in the city.
So successful has been the program, that organizers are hoping to bring three more classroom buses into service.
The bus currently being operated, has been turned into a classroom to seat around 50 students and has its own whiteboard and other learning aids. Lessons start every morning at 9 a.m. and continue until 1 p.m., 6 days a week. 
In 2010, Akij Group launched the Akij Foundation with the aim of improving educational opportunities for Bangladesh’s poorest people. It came up with the idea of operating a mobile school in 2014. 
“Our idea was to provide quality education to those people who don’t have access to the education system,” foundation chairman, professor Jamalunnessa, told Arab News. 
He said the foundation had searched in vain to find a suitable location in Dhaka for a primary school before it hit on the idea of converting a bus to take education to the doorsteps of the children.
The bus is now a government-registered school and lessons follow the local education authority’s standard curriculum. 
“In addition, we teach mathematics and English at the elementary level in class 1 and 2,” said senior teacher, Shah Alam.
“Our focus is to make the learning process fun for the children. We teach them painting and do other extracurricular activities, and we also offer light snacks during class breaks which help to make the children more attentive in class,” Alam added. 
According to the latest figures, the dropout rate among students in Bangladeshi primary schools is 18.8 percent. In comparison, the mobile school has not lost a single student during its time on the road.
Akhi Alamgir, a fifth-grader at the mobile school, said: “I like the methods of teaching here. The teachers are very dedicated and help all of us.” She intends to continue her studies at a city high school run by the foundation, and said she hopes to become a doctor. 
Alamgir’s mother Sufia Begum, said: “I want my daughter to continue being taught by the foundation’s teachers. They are very good for her well-being.”
There are currently around 100 students attending the mobile school, which is being operated in the Mirpur and Uttara areas of Dhaka. 
Fourth-grader, Salma After, travels 2 km every day with her younger sisters Asma and Asia to join classes on the bus.
“After completing my education, I want to be a police officer. Coming to school here has helped me to feel much more confident about making a success of my life,” said After. 
The foundation hopes its mobile-school students will move on to study in one of its high schools or colleges in the capital after completing their fifth grade. 
“We will continue to support their education for as long as they want,” said Jamalunnessa. “We plan to expand the mobile school into other parts of the city with three more buses. Any help with this would be great.”


Sixteen states sue Trump over border wall emergency

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, right, accompanied by Gov. Gavin Newsom, said California will probably sue President Donald Trump over his emergency declaration to fund a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border Friday, Feb. 15, 2019, in Sacramento, Calif. (AP)
Updated 19 February 2019
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Sixteen states sue Trump over border wall emergency

  • The complaint added that the Department of Homeland Security had violated the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to evaluate the environmental impact of the wall in California and New Mexico

SAN FRANCISCO: Sixteen US states sued President Donald Trump’s administration Monday over his decision to declare a national emergency to fund a wall on the southern border with Mexico, saying the move violated the constitution.
The lawsuit, filed in a federal court in California, said the president’s order was contrary to the Presentment Clause that outlines legislative procedures and the Appropriations Clause, which defines Congress as the final arbiter of public funds.
The move had been previously announced by Xavier Becerra the attorney general of California who said his state and others had legal standing because they risked losing moneys intended for military projects, disaster assistance and other purposes.
Several Republican senators have decried the emergency declaration, saying it establishes a dangerous precedent and amounts to executive overreach.
California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Virginia are party to the complaint seeking an injunction.
“Use of those additional federal funds for the construction of a border wall is contrary to Congress’s intent in violation of the US Constitution, including the Presentment Clause and Appropriations Clause,” the complaint said.
It added that Trump had “veered the country toward a constitutional crisis of his own making.”
“Congress has repeatedly rebuffed the president’s insistence to fund a border wall, recently resulting in a record 35-day partial government shutdown over the border wall dispute,” the document read.
“After the government reopened, Congress approved, and the president signed into law, a $1.375 billion appropriation for fencing along the southern border, but Congress made clear that funding could not be used to build President Trump’s proposed border wall.”
The complaint added that the Department of Homeland Security had violated the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to evaluate the environmental impact of the wall in California and New Mexico.
Friday’s declaration enables the president to divert funds from the Pentagon’s military construction budget and other sources.