by John Borst, PP Rotary Club of Dryden, ON
This June has seen another round of flooding in Dhaka, Bangladesh as the above photo from the Dhaka Daily Star of June 17th, 2017 will attest.
The slums of Dhaka are also home to a Rotary sponsored literacy and education initiative. In 2009 The Rotary Club of Belleville, Ontario learned of a unique low-cost literacy experiment being tried by a Canadian charity, The Amarok Society. It was the brain-child of Tanyss and GEM Munro.
Tanyss had been hired through the Commonwealth Foundation to go to Bangladesh to advise the government on education. What they found was thousands of adults with no education living in slums with no schools so their children were not getting an education either.
Their idea was utterly simple. Teach mothers and have them teach 5 children. For a school, rent one of the slum shanties. Forget about desks, simply use the floor. Supply workbooks and pencils. Thus, were born the Amarok Schools and “The Mothers of Intention” program.
In 2010, while my wife, Suzanne was the Dryden Rotary’s literacy chair, we held a fund-raising dinner and donated about $2000.00 to help at one of the schools.
I learned that it costs about $10,000 CDN (about $6,000 USD) per year to run one school. Now, that is low cost. Do the math. 40 mothers is a per pupil cost of $250.00 annually. But each of those mothers, in turn, goes home and teaches 5 children, either their own or their neighbors. Forty times 5 is 200 children; so in total that $10,000 educates 240 pupils at a cost of under CND $42.00 (USD $35.00) per pupil/annum.
In 2015 11 Rotary clubs from across Canada and 3 Districts (7070, 5550, and 7090) all of which are part of Zone 24, under the leadership of the Belleville club successfully applied for a Global Grant to introduce “digital skills” into both the “Mothers” program and school’ administrative needs.
Now the schools along with most of the slum are inundated with rain and sewage water. If your club has even $50 or $100 left in this years’ budget, it would go a long way in helping the Mothers get their classroom and “Simple Schools” cleaned up.
Please make your cheques out to The Amorak Society 1001-3230 Yonge St, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M4N 3P6.