Hawa Begum, a proud grandmother and promoter of Community Reading Camp
Through Reading Enhancement for Advancing Development (READ) project (supported by USAID), Save the Children in Bangladesh is promoting Community Reading Camps across Bangladesh. Community Reading Camp, an open place outside schools, where the children of grade I-III can engage themselves in enjoyable and innovative learning activities in order to improve their Bangla reading skills. Besides improving children’s literacy skills, Community Reading Camps promote culture of pleasure reading. It has become popular in its locality and helping early grade students to have a better academic start. Besides children’s participation, primary school teachers, parents, and School Management Committee (SMC) members’ active engagement has increased this initiative’s acceptability.
Although parents visit Community Reading Camps with their children, grandparents are barely seen. However, an exceptional case of grandparent’s engagement in literacy initiative at a Community Reading Camps in Kurigram district has been noticed.
Accompanying two grandsons who study in grade I and II, 80 years old Haawa Begum comes to Bhogdanga Community Reading Camp located in Sadar Upazila of Kurigram. Because of her sincere commitment to promote Community Reading Camps and the joy of reading, grandmother Haawa Begum has become an icon in Kurigram district.
When she was asked that why she promotes Community Reading Camps, she said, “When I was young, I used to teach Bangla to my son by using various games, songs and rhymes. I always wondered why these innovative methods of learning are not part of primary education. When I first heard about Community Reading Camp in January 2017, I was very happy that finally children will be able to learn with joy.”
Haawa Begum was studying in grade VIII in Rangpur when she got married. After marriage, she had to move to Kurigram and could not continue her study. Now, at the age of 80, she lives with his son, daughter in law and two grandchildren. Not only she helps her grandchildren to absorb Community Reading Camp’s learnings, but also assists the Community Literacy Volunteers to conduct sessions. Haawa Begum’s contribution to the reading camp is highly recognized by the local primary school teachers as well.
When Haawa Begum was asked how she passes her days besides attending Bhogdanga Community Reading Camp, she replied, “I am too old to do house hold chores. Rather I utilize my time by thinking about my grandsons’ future and visiting primary schools around Bhogdanga village. I try to maintain a good relationship with local teachers, and attend parents-teachers’ meeting regularly.”
For grandmother Haawa Begum, once the reason behind all her effort was her two grandsons. But now her effort to promote literacy is for all children. Therefore, besides attending the meetings, Haawa Begum visits her neighbors and suggests them to motivate their children to read more at home and join Community Reading Camps.