Girls in rural areas in Bangladesh often drop out of school or college as their educational institutions are far from where they stay. Like the girls in Kaunia upazila of Rangpur district, who had to travel 4.5 kilometers on average every day to ensure their education. The poor girls couldn’t afford money to commute to school or college. As a result the girls get married at very early stage of their lives.
Noticing the difficult commute school and college-going girls have to make on a daily basis, Upazila Women Development Forum (WDF) came up with an eco-friendly, enjoyable solution by getting bicycles for the students.
Afroza Akter, an eighth-grader at Kaunia Mofazzol Hossain Govt Model High School, said, “I had to spend Tk 50-60 every day behind commuting. Now that I have a bicycle, I no longer have to spend extra money just to go to school.”
Many of the girls said that this bicycle has increased their attendance in school, and made it easier for them to be punctual.
This initiative was made possible by WDF through funding from Kaunia Upazila Parishad. Upazila Parishad provided Tk 4,50,00 as part of its 3% annual allocation for WDF, which was used to purchase 50 bicycles for underprivileged girls from remote areas.
The bicycles were distributed among the students on May 26, 2019. Upazila WDF President, Angura Begum and Upazila Nirbahi Officer, Ulfat Ara Begum were present at the programme among other upazila representatives.
Olyma Akter Lima, a second-year student at Haragachh Degree College said, “I use this bicycle multiple times every day. Sometimes my mother rides as pillion. I feel happy to be able to help her, and I am proud that I get to commute on my own bicycle in the village.”
The Efficient and Accountable Local Governance (EALG) project of UNDP, funded by SDC and DANIDA re-activated WDF in 2018 through Upazila level workshops. Through this project, WDF members received training on SDG localisation and leadership. A total of 551 WDFs were established in the last phase of the project.
Passionate about sustainable development goal-4 which seeks to ensure quality education for all, WDF decided to ease the burden of young girls by providing them bicycles, so that they can focus on a bright future full of learning. “This initiative will help the girls stay in school, as it eliminated added expenditure and gave them more freedom to pursue education,” said Angura Begum.