“NETZ is one of the European Union’s key partners in giving opportunities to the most marginalised and extreme poor in Bangladesh. Through joint projects to support sustainable livelihoods and primary education, NETZ ensures that thousands of families can live in dignity and see a real future for their children.
I personally witnessed how NETZ closely works with local civil society organisations to advocate for better policies for the poor in Bangladesh and stand up for their rights.
I wish to encourage NETZ staff, volunteers and supporters to continue working hard with and for the people of Bangladesh.”
William Hanna, European Union Ambassador in Bangladesh from 2011 until 2014
Rumya Parvin is 21 years old and a pre-school teacher at the Shankardaka Public Primary School in Rangpur. "I am very happy that there is a pre-primary school at our local public school finally. I think it is important to prepare young children for their school life." Rumya is originally from Rangpur and glad that she found a job close to her home. She takes care of 25 children. "What I like about my job is that I can be very creative. I teach the children by using lots of different playing and teaching materials. In addition I conduct regular dancing and singing classes. This is what I and the children love most." Rumya very much interested to participate in the monthly refresher-trainings, where she learns new teaching methods and has the opportunity to exchange her experiences with other pre-school teachers.
Rumya Parvin, teacher at the Shankardaka Public Primary School in Rangpur
Shamsul Islam works as Education Support Organizer at the Shankardaka Public Primary School in Rangpur. One of his responsibilities is to give additional support to slow learners, during school breaks and after school. Another important task is visiting households in the area in order to identify school age children, especially from extreme poor families. "Sometimes it is challenging to motivate parents to send their children to school. I try to raise their awareness on the importance of education for their children's future". He conducts regular home visits when children are absent from school. "Parents often expect that children contribute to the family income or they have to look after younger siblings and do household work. The older students of grade 4 and 5 are particularly affected." Beyond that he supports primary school graduates to enroll in the nearby high school. Last year he succeeded to convince the headmaster of the high school to exempt children from the poorest families from enrolment fees. "I try to maintain a good relationship with parents and communicate regularly with high school teachers to follow up how my students cope with their high school life. This goes beyond my job description, but it is my personal interest."
Shamsul Islam, Education Support Organizer at the Shankardaka Public Primary School in Rangpur
During the last years the government was very successful in scaling up enrolment rates of children, but the drop out rates are still high. One of the challenges is to ensure regular attendance of students and teachers. Moreover, school committees are often inactive and do not fulfil their roles and responsibilities. "Now that the enrolment rates have improved we have to take care of the quality of our public schools. A crucial problem we face is that we can hardly provide education for children living in char areas. It is very difficult to motivate teachers to work in char areas and school supervisors would not be able to visit and monitor these schools regularly. We have to develop a common strategy how to improve the education infrastructure at chars together with NGOs. These areas are very often affected by floods and people have to take a boat or walk far distances to reach them."
Ahmed Talukder, Deputy Director Rangpur Division
Ahamim Akter appreciates the contribution of NETZ and its Partner-NGO JCF for the provision of education to children, especially children from remote char areas. Their work goes hand in hand with that of the local government. There is a regular communication and exchange of experience. "Unfortunately, the government is not able to set up enough schools in char areas. It is impossible for us to monitor those schools, since it is very difficult and time consuming to visit them regularly. We simply do not have enough personnel. Another problem is that it would be hard for us to recruit teachers who are willing to work in these remote areas." Ahamim is in favour of the concept of Anandalok schools. Especially because mostly teachers from the same area are recruited and trained. He also appreciates the support given to public schools, since the number and attendance rate of children has increased, especially regarding children from extreme poor families. Furthermore, pre-schools and school libraries were established and teachers receive continous trainings. In return the government supplies Anandalok and NFPE schools with free school books. Ahamim underlines that NFPE schools still are an important part of the education system in Bangladesh, as it would be impossible to build a permanent schools in some of the remotest areas.
Ahamim Akter, Assistant Upazila Education Officer in Rangpur district
Shamon Karmikar owns the land, where the Belamla NFPE school building was established. It is important to him that children of his village have access to education. He is glad that his now 13-years-old son Taposh had the opportunity to visit the school. He graduated in 2011 and is now in class 8 at the local high school. It is difficult for them to pay for his son’s school uniform, learning materials and exam fees at the high school, especially during Monga, a famine-like season. But his son’s education is his priority. “Nowadays we have the opportunity to send our children to school. We have to embrace this opportunitiy for our children.” Shamon Karmikar encourages his son every day to do his homework and study for his exams.
Shamon Karmikar, owner of the land, where the Belamla NFPR school was builded
Anowar Hussein is the chairperson of the School Management Committee (SMC) of a NFPE school in Dalimba village in Joypurhat district. To ensure good teaching quality at the school is very important to him. His son Naimen is a student there. He would like to become an engineer. "I am very thankful that this school was established in our village. Before we were not able to send our children to school, because the next primary school is too far away." From the very beginning he was involved in the management of the school. He helped selecting the land for the school construction and in the recruiting of teacher. Together with the other members of the SMC he regularly monitors the attendance rates of children and the teacher. Moreover, he is responsible for looking after the school building. "Jonata Rani is a great teacher and very educated. We are very satisfied with the quality of her teaching and her teaching methods. Our children make good progress thanks to her efforts." The members of the SMC meet at least once a month. "Sometimes we discuss on health issues of the children. We talk to their parents, when we see that a child does not look well or that does not attend school regularly."
Anowar Hussein, chairperson of the School Management Committee (SMC) of a NFPE school in Dalimba village
Kumari Sujita Rani is 14 years old and lives in Belamla village in Joypurhat district. She went to primary school at the Belamla NFPE school and graduated in 2011. Her mother Laboni Rani encouraged her to continue her education at a secondary school. Currently she is attending class 8. Her favourite subject is English. After graduating from secondary school she would like to become a nurse. Her mother has five other children and sometimes it is difficult for her to afford exam fees, school uniforms and learning materials. However, she wants a better future for her daughter. She is participating in the Sustainable Livelihoods Programme of NETZ since 2007. The additonal income she gains from her cattle and chicken she received from the programme allows her to send Shapla to a secondary school.
Kumari Sujita Rani, 14 years old, student of the Belamla NFPE school
Nurnakar Begum is glad for having the opportunity to send her 8-years-old daughter Shapla to school close to their home. The small village in Rangpur district is located at a char, a remote river island, and regularly affected by floods. Here schools are usually rare. The NFPE school enables children of her village to access primary education. The nearest public school is 4 km away and it would be unsafe and wearing to send them their. Nurnakar herself is illiterate and had never the chance to visit a school. She and her husband work in acriculture. In addition, she established a small business. She sews hats with other women from the village, which provides a small additional income to the family.
Nurnakar Begum, mother of a NFPE-student
“To reach the age of 50 feels special. Life and lifetime feels more valuable than with an age of 30 or 40. Questions like how I will spend my time, my energy and my money arise. In 2012, both of us reached the age of 50. We are thankful for the past years and we look forward to future full of hope. This is a great occasion to celebrate with friends and companions, to share our gratitude and our hopes for the future. We want to share not just with our guests but with other people as well. Therefore, we asked our guests to give us a gift in form of a donation to the primary education programme of NETZ. We are convinced that school education is fundamental for people to participate actively from an early age on in the development of a social, ideal and financial perspective for themselves and others and to shape the future. NETZ creates a solid basis for this for children and adolescents in Bangladesh. We are glad that we are able to contribute to the work of NETZ via the donations from our guests.”
Antje Günter and Dieter Eilert from Gelsenkirchen, Germany
“The education projects of NETZ are really great! They are perfectly tailored to the local situation, just as we from Weitblick imagine it. To support such projects and the connection to development education are very motivating for our charity work as students! We are looking forward to further years cooperating with NETZ.”
Daniel Sommer, Deputy Chairperson of the students’ initiative Weitblick Duisburg e.V.
“One year of volunteering in Bangladesh – I never would have thought it possible to learn and experience so many new things. That it would be possible to have so many interesting and hearty encounters. That it would be possible to immerse in a society and culture, which seemed so different in the beginning, and to find a place in it. I am thankful that I could make this experience and to have the possibility to give something back to the people here through my work, exchange and shared experiences.”
Anna Gäßler, NETZ volunteer 2012-2013
“In 2011 NETZ provided a perspective to tens of thousands of families in Bangladesh through projects on sustainable livelihood, primary education and human rights. Even today, after 40 years of independence, millions of extremely poor families, women and girls continue to be denied acces to those basic rights. Ain o Shalish Kendra and NETZ work in close partnership to ensure people become aware of their rights and act to have them enforced.
I am very impressed by the enormous commitment and creativity of NETZ staff, partners, young volunteers and supporters in Germany, in our joint engagement against hunger and for justice in Bangladesh.
I wish NETZ and all its supporters continuous success in this important work!”
Sultana Kamal, Executive Director of the NETZ partner organization Ain o Salish Kendra.
“I regularly support parents from our parish who want to have their children baptised. Together we plan the ceremony, and we feel grateful for the joy brought to us through those children. At the ceremony, we usually want to express what we feel and share this spirit of joy with others. Thus the donations collected at the baptism service are given to mothers who equally love their children but are very poor and do not know how to get food for them. Parents here believe in the long-term prospects that the NETZ livelihood programme offers to those mothers. And parents here are glad to share their joy by supporting families they do not even know. It is also very good to know that our money really reaches the people and will be spent to help them help themselves. At least once a year we celebrate the Day of Hope in our parish. We learn about the projects supported by NETZ and look at the happy faces far away where our contribution has arrived. And their joy radiates back to us.”
Gabriele Medam is a teacher from Rottenburg, Germany and member of the Bangladesh Group in Tuebingen-Hirschau, Germany.
“In 1998, we initiated charity cycling at the Deutschorden Grammar School (“Deutschorden-Gymnasium”), Bad Mergentheim, Germany. Since 2004, our students have cycled to raise funds for Bangladesh. Organised and actively supported by many teachers, large groups of people who are eager to ‘let off steam’ before the end of term get on their bicycles. Each year, the organisers motivate many people to join in. This has created a unique joint experience along the lines of ‘think globally, act locally’.
We can rely on the support of NETZ: At ‘information day’, the junior and intermediate classes get an enormous boost in motivation when they listen to the lively and authentic presentations about the people and culture of Bangladesh, given by people who are engaged in NETZ. One of our colleagues puts it this way: ‘I am pleased to give our students the chance to look a little further than the end of their nose and to learn something about the living conditions in Bangladesh. The presentations by former NETZ volunteers help a lot to achieve this.’ And learning that our cycling helps more than 80 children, most of them girls, to go to primary schools for a whole year, inspires us most. We support them to have a better chance in life.
The transparency, openness and willingness to help that NETZ shows towards us, contributes to our motivation to continue supporting the people in Bangladesh.”
Josef Knoblauch (photo: 3rd person from left) is Deputy Headmaster of the Deutschorden-Gymnasium, Bad Mergentheim, Germany
“Fascinated, deeply moved and full of ambition I returned from a school exchange visit to Bangladesh to my familiar surroundings in 2007. Very quickly, I realised that I wanted to get to know this fascinating country with its rich culture and cordial people. During my voluntary service with NETZ in Bangladesh in 2010, I was moved by people’s fates, and by encounters and friendships that all left a deep impression on me. I learned about the causes of poverty and ways to overcome it. I admire people’s will-power and perseverance, and through my commitment to NETZ, I can contribute to supporting them. Through my active engagement, people in Germany also get an insight into Bangladesh, with all its fascination, but also with its difficulties. When I run development education events in Germany, people’s participation and interest show me that problems in Bangladesh do concern us, too. We do not have our hands tied – every single one of us can contribute.”
Regina Breg, NETZ volunteer in 2010. Since returning to Germany, she has been an active member of the working groups “Development Education” and “Voluntary Service” at NETZ.
“For more than 30 years, a countless number of dedicated people have been working with NETZ as employees, donors and volunteers for the extreme poor in Bangladesh especially in the areas where cooperation between governments cannot reach directly. Since then NETZ has provided perspectives to hundreds of thousands of families through projects that include sustainable income-generating activities, access to health services and human rights issues with special focus on rights of women and marginalised communities.
The improvement of the educational situation for children from poor families is outstanding – as an indispensable requirement for an independent life in dignity. There is no alternative of this for the development of the whole country.
During my visits at the NETZ Country Office in Dhaka and to the supported projects with extreme poor people, as the German Ambassador in Bangladesh, I have witnessed the deep solidarity of the people at NETZ with the hardship of the marginalised. I admire your great commitment to alleviate the people’s hardship a bit on a daily basis.
I wish NETZ and all its supporters continuous success with this important task.”
Holger Michael, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany in Bangladesh from 2009 until 2012.
Bangladesh has immense potentials. Over the last decade the country has made tremendous progress in life expectancy, education and economic growth. The main strength of the country is in its younger generation, more than 30 million of them go to primary and secondary schools. If we can just properly educate them the country will be one of the most successful countries in the world, in a very short period of time. The other side of this fact is also a bit saddening, if only a few percent of our children cannot make it to the schools that implies over a few million children will have no access to education, and these children are definitely from the poor families in remote areas. Although the government had promised to spend 6% of the gross domestic product in education, the present education budget is less than 2.5%, and the most alarming fact is this number has decreased over the years. So our dream of sending every child to a school may not be fulfilled very soon.
Since the Government cannot do it alone, it is important for private organisations to extend their helping hand in education. One such initiative is the Anandalok Schools of NETZ. I had the opportunity to visit a few of these schools and I was mightily impressed. The schools are based on the philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore, which is putting the children’s capacities and needs in the centre. One of the schools was even named after Jahanara Imam, whom we call as the mother of all martyrs in our liberation war. I believe NETZ is sincerely trying to provide modern and secular quality primary education to the children mainly from extreme poor families.
I wish them all the success and am waiting to see a significant impact due to their sincere efforts. I hope everyone will come forward to join them in their heart-warming initiatives.
Muhammed Zafar Iqbal, Bangladeshi author of science fiction and children's literature and professor at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology in Sylhet, Bangladesh.
”Helping where the need is greatest! This is what we decided for at the High School at St. Michael in Schwaebisch Hall and made a donation to the livelihood programme of NETZ. The NETZ approach of providing sustainable support to the poorest with the goal of enabling self-help has led us to this decision. With the collective effort of 1,300 students, we succeeded to generate a handsome amount of money at our Christmas bazar to give 85 of the poorest families in Bangladesh the opportunity of a better future – without hunger! We are very proud that we jointly achieved so much, thus making a small contribution to a fairer world.“
Members of the student's council at the High School at St. Michael in Schwaebisch Hall (left to right): Tabea Kirschbaum, Mario Baumann and Nina Balta.
“More than 100,000 people in Bangladesh were able to overcome hunger with the support from Germany through the livelihood programme of NETZ. With the support of our partner organisations, women from the poorest families now design family development plans. They receive training as small-scale entrepreneurs and an initial capital, for instance, cows, goats or seeds and leasing land for the cultivation of rice, fruits and vegetables. With the sales profit they can again buy livestock or take lease of new land. In this way, their standard of living changes fundamentally and definitely in a sustainable way. However, the programme changes much more than just enabling people to feed themselves and their families.
Ossified power structures and conflicting political conditions as well as economical disadvantages create poverty and preserve it. If a tragedy occurs, poverty becomes life-threatening. Only when many affected people combine their efforts, change will be possible and the struggle against poverty will succeed sustainably. These changes are often invisible in the beginning as they progress in small steps. But little by little they change a society so that the poorest can get justice. That is why we initiate self help that sustains after the period of a project. Women organise themselves in the livelihood programme of NETZ independently and stand up for each other.
“We can make it too” – that is the translated name of the federation of women's groups in Darshana, in the western part of the country, where we have been cooperating with our partner Jagorani Chakra Foundation since 2002. Meanwhile, the federation consists of 5,670 members and more than 65 employees, who are financed from their own resources. The federation manages the savings of the members and is responsible for the awarding of small loans. They also look after 35 pre-schools, which were built up and maintained by the women. Three women already got elected into the local Union Parishad, i.e. Union Council, and advocate the rights of the poor.
The children of these women will grow up in a changed situation. Because their mothers were struggling for their survival and their rights.”
Manfred Krueger, Chairperson of NETZ Bangladesh; here together with Anzira Khartun, Chairperson of the women's federation in Darshana.
"Students and parents sell home-made sandwiches to the students and teachers every day during school break. With the sales profit, we support non-formal schools in the Northwest of Bangladesh. We are glad that we found a partner in NETZ that transparently and comprehensively shows how support works. “WeltKlasse!” is a coherent concept that enables active exchange with schools in Bangladesh as well as with NETZ itself. Personal reports and visits by NETZ members enrich the every-day school life for our adolescents. During their lessons and in the “one world” working group they are dealing with global issues and receive feedback on how they can contribute to a fairer balance between the North and South."
Boris Couchoud, teacher and head of the “one world” working group at the Otto Hahn High School in Bergisch Gladbach.
“The hustle and bustle in Dhaka was exotic and at the same time strange to me in the first weeks of my voluntary service in Bangladesh. But in the following months, I became more familiar with this country. The encounters with people moved me deeply; many of them encountered strokes of fate and suffer from hunger and unjust living conditions, but still did welcome me warm-heartedly with big smiles. These encounters developed into friendships and along with them my connection to Bangladesh and to everyone, who has made my voluntary service an unforgettable part of my life.
I went to Bangladesh to contribute together with others to a just world. Through my work in Bangladesh and my support for NETZ in Germany, I hope to come closer to this goal. I want to give back a little bit of the warmth of the people in Bangladesh and let people in Germany take part in this as well.”
Felicitas Qualmann, NETZ volunteer in 2010 and member of the NETZ working groups “Development Education” and “Voluntary Service” since her return to Germany.
“The prospect of an intensive, lively cultural exchange was essential for our decision to take part in the partnership programme! The students of Wichterich primary school are enthusiastic and proud that through their support 30 girls and boys from Bangladesh can attend school. To make this possible they sold their craft work during an event on St. Martin’s Day. Many donations were collected at the open day at the end of a special Bangladesh week at our school. Together with NETZ, we created a lively partnership with the Uttor Kalir Khamar primary school.”
Gabi Hilsenbeck-Fischer, Head Teacher of the primary school in Wichterich
“During my voluntary service in Bangladesh I got to know the many different aspects of the country. I experienced the hospitality of the people, immersed myself in the country’s colours and fragrances, but I also had to experience the poverty of a lot of people. However I could see the determination and strength in the faces of many women and men that enables them to fight for their families.
Education, a stable income and a nonviolent environment are the most important preconditions. Through my educational development work with NETZ in Germany, I can help to support them. I can bring young people or adults a bit closer to the life of the people in Bangladesh. Their interest strengthens my conviction that the problems of the people in Bangladesh concern us as well and that all of us can contribute to solving them.”
Corinna Brandenburger, NETZ volunteer in 2009 and a member of the development education working group of NETZ since her return to Germany.