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“School has helped me to lose my fear for new things”

The early learning centres, supported by the H&M Foundation, offer opportunities to the most vulnerable children in Bangladesh. Bristy Akhter, who lives in the Baisteki slum in Dhaka, knows first-hand what it means to be able to go to school.
Bristy in the classroom. Photo: UNICEF Bangladesh
Bristy in the classroom. Photo: UNICEF Bangladesh
Bristy and her friends. Photo: UNICEF Bangladesh
Bristy and her parents. Photo: UNICEF Bangladesh

Bristy Akhter is a clever and positive young girl who attends class four in primary school in Dhaka, Bangladesh. At an early age, Bristy and her family migrated to Dhaka in the hope that her father would find more work. The family settled in the Baisteki slum, a bustling and fast growing part of Dhaka.

Bristy’s parents were very concerned about their children’s education and future. The costly life in Dhaka and the education costs made it impossible for her parents to send their children to school.

Fortunately, in 2013 an Early Learning Centre, supported by the government and UNICEF, started operating in the Baisteki Slum. Bristy was among the first children to enroll. After completing one-year early education, Bristy was transferred to primary school.

“I learned a lot of things at the Early Learning Centre and pre-primary school, like writing letters and numbers, and rhymes and songs. I always had fun and could play with my friends while learning. Our teacher was very kind, patient and loved us very much,” says Bristy.

In regard to the benefits from the early education to transition to primary school, Bristy says: “The SBK and pre-primary school helped me to lose the fear for new things. When I started primary school I was convinced I was going to do well”. Bristy is now in class four.

“If there was no early learning centre in this slum, it would have been extremely hard, almost impossible, for us to give our daughter the opportunity to fulfil her right to education,” says Bristy’s mother. She continues: “Our lives also became easier as we didn’t have to worry too much for her future. We knew she was in a good, protective and joyful environment while we were working.”

“I always tell other people to enrol their children in this type of early learning centres because they truly help children to develop their potential. Also, they provide education opportunities to children from poor families.”

Sahera Begum, Bristy’s mother

Bristy knows what she wants to do in the future: “I want to be able to help the poor. My first experience with education was very joyful and I want other children to have the same opportunity.”

The early learning centres supported with contribution from H&M Foundation, offer opportunities to the most vulnerable children in Bangladesh, mainly children living in slums.

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