Tomina Khatun: Leading the Change

“I love to study,” Tomina says, “And I love my school because my teachers are so friendly and I can read books all the time”

Tomina attends primary school in the community of Chariswar in south Kolkata, India. It is an area rife with poverty; small homes constructed of mud, whose residents are largely pottery makers and daily labourers. For the past seven years, Suas and our partner Development Action Society have been working in the area to provide high quality education and inclusive, safe and healthy learning environments for students.

Pictured: Tomina Khatun and Bibha Mondal (teacher)

Pictured: Tomina Khatun and Bibha Mondal (teacher)

We are improving the quality of education by providing tuition classes, school supplies and equipment, daily meals to students, establishing student leadership groups as well as training teachers to create more effective and dynamic lessons.

At only age 13, Tomina is already well on her way to being a leader. Tomina is part of the local service-leadership group called the “Children’s Parliament” where students choose issues affecting their communities and decide on strategies and activities to improve the situation.

“I love being part of the Children’s Parliament, last year we received some training and then went to each house with posters we made ourselves. We talked to parents and children about simple ways to have a healthy household. It was so great to be able to support my community”.

Suas measure results, attendance and learning outcomes in each of the centres where we work. We understand the harsh realities of families living in the area so we take a supportive approach to helping ensure that every child is staying in school and learning well.

As part of the Suas programme Bibha and her fellow teachers check-up on students when they don’t come to class – a practice done in all 14 communities we support in Kolkata. “When students are out of school for a few days, we visit their homes to talk with the parents and see what the problem is and if we can help,” Bibha says.

Through community awareness events and programmes, the project also raises awareness among parents about the importance of education and encourages their active participation in school activities.

Ruma Bhadra (pictured on right), a young mother from the community believes that education is the only way out. Her youngest son Nupur is attending one of the community schools which Suas supports.

“I didn’t have the chance to go to school, but I don’t want my children to have to work 14 hours each day on the local dump like many of the families in this community.  I want them to have something better. If you are not educated, you cannot get a good job,” Ruma remarks.

For students like Tomina Khutun, who speaks confidently about wanting to be a teacher so she can give something back to her community, a quality education is the key to enabling her to realise her potential.

Education is one of the most powerful tools in breaking the cycle of poverty.

In 18 schools across 14 villages in Kolkata, Suas’ projects are working to improve the quality of education to give Tomina and thousands of other students the chance at a better future. Education is transforming lives across the globe, but we need your continued support to ensure that we can enable more young leaders like Tomina to make a difference.

Posted in Education Transforming Lives.