Posted on February 21, 2011

ROTA has revealed the heartwarming story of one young woman who overcame seemingly impossible financial and physical barriers to achieve her dream to become a teacher.

Romana Akter Koli and her family – mother, father, two sisters (one disabled) - farm in the remote Ukhia sub-district in south eastern Bangladesh. To maintain the family’s clay and makeshift home from CGI sheets, Romana’s father cultivates the land of others – the Koli family is too poor to purchase their own.

Due to poverty and the global crisis Romana’s family had no money to continue her education when she left primary school. Romana’s village - Vhalokiya Tolatili - is situated 12 kilometres from the main highway along a treacherous mud track, and due to the long distance and high cost, most students stop studying at primary school.

But Romana remained sincere in her studies as she attended school regularly despite the difficulties, and was determined to continue her education. “If I had the opportunity, I knew I could achieve better examination results,” says Romana.

Romana was admitted to Vhaloikya High School. When the 12 kilometer journey was impossible during the rainy season, Romana persevered and successfully completed her secondary school certificate (SSC) in 2008.

Then she was ready to face her biggest challenge of all: there is no government college in Ukhiya province, so Romana needed to travel Cox’s Bazar for her higher secondary school certificate (HSC) studies. The problem: Cox’s Bazar is 50 kilometers from Romana’s village and transport costs alone come to Tk.200 (QR10) per day.

And what news of Romana? The good news is that she has completed her HSC from Cox’s Bazar College and awaits admission for higher studies. Having completed the Teacher’s Basic training course conducted by Muslim Aid, Romana’s dream to become a teacher has been realized. ROTA/Muslim Aid helped her apply for a teaching position and eventually appointing Romana as a non-formal school teacher.

Today Romana teaches at the only school in her village as well as her continuing her studies and paying her own expenses by undertaking part time tuition and private coaching.

Her school, like all the 50 schools supported by ROTA/Muslim Aid in Bangladesh, is managed by a school committee comprising the village chief, two women representatives, teacher, business person and religious leader.  “One of the principles in international development is to always involve and engage the local community in project activities.  Our projects in ROTA have strong community support.  This in turn ensures ownership of the project by the people that is crucial for sustainability of the schools,” says Essa Al Mannai, ROTA Acting Director.

Committed to supporting the United Nations ‘Education For All’ program, ROTA Muslim Aid, and UK international relief and development agency, are working in remote areas, to increase access to education, providing non-formal education in 50 villages in Bangladesh.

In addition to non-formal education, ROTA’s program provides vocational training for young people in necessary market skills and livelihood training for community members.