Shubha Chandra Dash, a youth in his twenties, has opened his very own Sree Shubha Chandra Primary School beside the rail lines near the station, where 20 or 30 children are taught every day
Close to Chashara rail station in Narayanganj, a tea stall vendor who only has a primary education, helps provide basic education and free school supplies to underprivileged children.
Shubha Chandra Dash, a youth in his twenties, has opened his very own Sree Shubha Chandra Primary School beside the rail lines near the station, where 20 or 30 children are taught every day.
Every afternoon, students attend school and the main attraction is: students don’t have to bring any textbooks, notebooks, pencils, erasers, or other materials. All that is provided by the school.
On a visit there, this correspondent found, alongside the occasional curious commuter, children loudly chanting out the Bengali alphabet under the open sky.
Subha said his unfulfilled dream of being a teacher and a family financial crisis in childhood–for which he was unable to continue his studies–led him to open a school for underprivileged kids.
When Subha was a fifth grade student in 2005, his mother was diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB). He said: “My father had to sell everything we own to cover my mother’s medical expenses. Thefour of us siblings started working in the garments industry at one point.
“However we failed to save our mother. Later, a home tutor taught me till class eight, ( following the government syllabus) but I couldn’t afford an education after that.”
In 2016, Shubha opened up his tea stall at the Chashara rail station, where he grew close to underprivileged children deprived of an education. He found the kids eager to go to school but unable to afford an education.
Later the same year, with 10 students and 21 books from the Apu-Dipu Library near the rail station, he started his school in a small hut. Now his school has around 60-70 students where basic literacy training is provided. According to Subha, the highest level of education his school provides can be compared to a class three formal school education in Bangladesh. After the children finish at his school they are admitted to local government schools.
With a low income from his tea stall, Shubha has been covering school expenses with great difficulty. He had to leave the hut classroom for lack of money. Very sad, he said: "Sometimes I can't buy books, erasers, or pencils for my students when they ask for them. Many times I was about to shut down the school when it became difficult for me to bear the costs."
He added that he had high hopes for the future of his students as he found them exceptionally talented. He hoped that one day his students will be well established.
"Maybe one day they will do something for the country with utmost dedication. Some of them may also teach underprivileged kids like I do. Their strong desire to learn is a great motivational boost for me."
The students said some of them want to be doctors, some of them want to be teachers. Some of the kids are orphans, some have a single parent, some have lost their parents, but all of them dream of becoming something great in life. Guardians of the children said Shubha's school is a much needed initiative for their kids as they already struggle to manage three meals a day.
Narayanganj Sadar Upazila Education Officer Monirul Hoque said he had not known about the school and praised Shubha's initiative.
He said: "Mainly government schools in Narayanganj are under our jurisdiction. But we distribute books to many private schools in our area too. If Shubha wants, we can help his school with books."