One day, while reading Nick Kristof’s blog (one of my favorite Op-Ed bloggers btw), I saw that he basically devoted an entire entry to an idea he had. I then realized, I could do the same thing! I mean, thousands of people read his stuff; I’m sure some of them will have his ideas brewing in the back of their minds, and one day, POP! perhaps Nick Kristof’s proposal will become a reality! And, with all 6 of you reading my blog, maybe one day, POP! something related to this proposal will become a reality!
With that said, Bangladesh!
Located in Southern Asia between Burma and India, it is a country that is slightly smaller than Iowa. The humidity, heat, and monsoons do little to increase its attractiveness, and the droughts and cyclones that routinely inundate the country with troubles during the monsoon season are no picnic either. Other issues include:
- flood-prone land
- waterborne diseases
- water pollution
- water contamination
- intermittent water shortages
- soil degradation and erosion
- severe overpopulation
Despite its size, it’s the 7th most populated country in the world with an estimated total of 158, 570, 535 people. Sadly, a third of this population is below the age of 14, while the median age is 23.3 years. Roughly 50% of the people over age 15 can read and write, and the economy is super stinky (I know, eloquent) – basically an estimated 40% of the population is below the poverty line. *
Basically, yikes! (silver lining: Bangladesh is supposed to be the furthest along of all South Asian nations toward meeting the UN Millennium Development Goals for 2015**).
From the BBC articles I read, I was under the general impression that many young kids drop out of school, and they make about $1-2$ a day working either in factories or as hawkers.
Now, my proposal is to start a school in Bangladesh for grades K-8. I would pay the families of the students $30/month and feed the child if their child has good grades and perfect attendance. In addition to classes, there would be both art and vocational education offered. I was thinking anything from keyboarding, computer applications, photography, music, video, and web design would be great electives that would also provide students with the ability to gain upward mobility. Finally, to keep kids out of trouble and to keep them fed, they would be at school from 8-5. They would not be allowed to take jobs in hazardous conditions either.
Lastly, I hate the idea of being dependent on sponsors and grants. I really want this to be self-sustaining. So, I was thinking of some sort of kids teaching kids kind of thing, where Bangladeshi students creates an “introduction to South Asia” curriculum that could be purchased and downloaded from the internet by teachers all over the world. In general, people are generous towards philanthropy, especially if children and education are involved. I think it would be super cool, actually, to be a teacher in the States and be able to download a mini curriculum that is supervised by a credible teacher and created by student peers. What an awesome way of encouraging global stewardship and international awareness!
Yeah, yeah, yeah, there’s no way I’m going to sustain a school with peanuts from the internet. So, I’m hoping that the first school that I would have already started before moving to Bangladesh would be balling enough to support this one.
Okay fine, maybe I’m hoping for a rich benefactor.
And no, there’s no reason for Bangladesh except the BBC focused on them and I got interested. And yes, I could go anywhere. It’s just… you have to start somewhere!