The Financial Express

Girls overcome ordeals thru’ bicycles

A Correspondent | Published: February 27, 2020 00:53:35

Girls overcome ordeals thru’ bicycles

FARIDPUR, Feb 26: At around nine in the morning, several groups of girls from remote areas start for school riding bicycles. Crossing all social barriers they now attend school regularly.

Girls from several villages of Gerda union under Faridpur Sadar upazila now attend school on bicycles without fear.

The spectacular scenes can be seen before classes start or after the school hours.

Students travel two to five kilometres a day on bicycles to attend classes at AF Mujibur Rahman High School in Gerda union.

Especially girls from different villages come to school riding bicycles including Kafura, Munshibazar Gerda, Pashra, Aliabad, Gadadhar Dungi, Bilmaudpur etc.

AF Mujibur Rahman High School started its journey with four students in 1963 but now the number of students is 530. Most of them are girl students. There are 16 teachers including six full-time ones appointed by the charity AF Mujibur Rahman Foundation.

Earlier, the attendance of students in the school was very low. Girls were regularly absent from school due to distance and absence of social security.

To overcome this situation, the AF Mujibur Rahman Foundation, under the initiative of women, provided free bicycles and free training.

Karate training has been arranged for self-defence. All of this is done in a separate playground for girls.

Regularly, after training some girls in batches for two or three months, they are being given bicycles. In the meantime, 112 girl students got free bicycles.

Shanta, a tenth-grade student, said, 'My home is at Kafura village which is about five kilometres away from the school. Once I used to go to school on foot or using vans, and due to this, I couldn't attend classes properly.'

She said, 'Then I along with my friends thought if boys can ride bicycles why can't we? We discussed the matter with teachers and parents. Later, we started riding bicycles to go to school.'

Rina, a ninth-grade student, said, 'We used vans so we had to pay extra fares daily and sometimes vans were not available. So we missed several classes but now the problem has been solved.'

Khushi said, "Students from 11 villages come to this school. Boys used bicycles for a long time but now girls started using this. At first, we felt ashamed but now we feel very comfortable using it. We are doing this to eradicate prejudice, eve teasing and oppression on women.'

Eighth grader Zui Akhter said it used to take a long time to get to school. So I could not come to school regularly. Now using a bicycle saves a lot of time. The boys do not dare to eve tease on the road as the school management committee is active.

Although parents were a bit hesitant at first, they now see the positive impact of cycling on girls. They think this is creating social bonds along with promoting women's education.

Bicycle instructor Thrishna Biswas said, 'We are training them regularly. In addition, girls are encouraged in sports, physical education, girl guiding.'

Head teacher Nazrul Islam said, "Various initiatives of the management committee and donors of the school have elicited unprecedented response. earlier, cycling was not easy. Now it has increased the number of girls attending school. Eve teasing on the road has been reduced due to girls being confident with empty-hand self-defence training".

"Now they are using bicycles and we don't think boys and girls are different than each other. Now they can reach school on time and perform better in examinations than previous years," he added. 

Lona T Rahman, a representative of the charity, said the distribution of bicycles to trained students of the school is an ongoing process. Bicycles are distributed in two to three installments. This system will continue in the future. The Foundation has appointed a female BPAD teacher and bicycle training is being provided. The results of the students' studies are showing improvement.

We hope that donors will also extend their support to the schools in their respective areas, she added.

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