READ book corner has changed children reading habits in Kukichhara Government Primary School.

Kukichhara Govt. Primary School is a READ project mediate school. The school is in Bhaibonchhara Uninon under Sadar Upazila of Khagrachhari Hill District. It is about 10 KM distance from Khagrachhari town. READ project is implementing in this school since 2015 funding by USAID and technically supported by Save the Children. Zabarang is the implementing Local NGO of READ in Khagrachhari.

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There are 145 students in this school. Among of them 61 are boys and 74 are girls. All the students of the school are came from Chakma and Marma community. Most of the students of this school didn’t have any chance to read any books or other reading materials except text book. The traditional teaching method of the school is also do not inspire them to read. So their reading skill was really poor. Lots of students were irregular to school because of no fascination with classroom.

Most of the students do not have the opportunity to read anything outside of the school. The school’s traditional teaching method also do not encourage them to read other books. So their quality of reading is poor. As a result, many students are irregular in the school due to lack of attraction.

Moreover, traditional teaching in Bangla language is considered as the reason for students’ unwillingness to read. They do feel interest in reading any other books beyond the textbooks. Meanwhile, the quality of the Kukichhara Government Primary School like many other schools of the district is in the lower level of national reading standards.

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In view of the above situation, this school was included in the READ project. Teachers are trained by READ to improve student learning skills. Along with this, there are 245 types of interesting leveled books delivered to the school children to improve their reading skills. Students are encouraged to read in many ways. Students started reading colorful books during the leisure time. Gradually they started to have fun of reading. Their ability to read continues to grow. Reading fluency comes, the vocabulary increases. Learns to understand by reading. As a result, their comprehensive skill also improves. Now they take the books to their house. They read the books to their parents and siblings at home.

The interest for reading increased student’s reading habit and reading capability. And this improvement is consistently reflected in the quarterly assessment of the READ project. It is seen in 2015 that in Grade-III, where the reading fluency was 38%, they came in 65% in the year 2017. Teachers are very happy to see improve student’s capability.

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Mr. Sumana Chakma, Headmaster of the school is very happy about the activities of the READ project. She herself supervised the reading of the students’ books and encourage the students for reading. She said, I asked the students to read books during the break. In many cases, I used to call backward students to read different books. Help them out. They also encouraged and increase their reading skills. She said, we should pay more attention to improving the efficiency of Bengali reading. Because, the mother tongue of the students is not Bengali. So they need skill development in Bangla language. Besides, in addition to the Bengali language schools, most of the subjects are in Bengali. Thus, I help and encourage students to read leveled supplementary materials to help in ensuring competency-based learning in the class.

Anuching Marma, assistant teacher of the school, said, “If the students read stories, their interest in reading increases. In this, their vocabulary increased in Bengali. They become fluent reader and learn to understand. Their skills are also reflected in the learning process. That’s why I let my students to read READ’s books every Thursday. “

It is seen in the assessment of students’ reading skills that the grade-III student Priyanti Chakma has regularly read books. She is also the book captain of her class. As well as distributing books of classmates as Captain, she herself has taken books. She says, “In school, I regularly distribute the books of my classmates. I myself read books and every Thursday I brought a new book home. By reading books I tell stories to my parents at home. They are very happy. I love reading books with friends at school. Lily Marma, Tathwoi Chakma, Arpita Chakma, Swimraching Marma are my reading partner in school.

It is to be noted that Zabarang distributed 14000 books at 45 schools in Khagrachari district under the READ project. 5000 students are getting the chance to read these books. According to the teachers of the school under the project, these books of READ are increasing the daily practice of reading and skill to students.

The women of Lachari Para can give more time in the family than before.

Government of Bangladesh and Asian development bank is implementing CHTRDP-2 project in eight upazila at Khagrachari District. Trinamul Unnayan Sangstha is a local implementing leading partner working jointly with other four local organizations in 200 para/villages at Khagrachari district. Zabarang kalyan Samity is working at 43 paras/villages in Manikchari, Ramgarh & Laxmichari Upazila among them. Lachari Para is one of them in 1 no. Ramgorrh union under the project area. It is located at the border of Bangladesh and India. It is 80 K.M from khagrachari sadar and 26 k.m from Ramagarh Upazila. Due to lack of socio-economic condition in the village and deprived from the first phase of the CHTRDP project, this village is recommended to select for the second phase by the local community leaders and local administrative institutions.

This village is in a hilly area where is 76 HH from Marma community. Along with the male there are 10 female led families in the village. There are total 305 people in which 154 male and 150 female. Most of the community in this village is dependent on agriculture and along with it they are day laborer and rare domestic animal for their livelihood. There are 3 classes of family according to the socioeconomic condition. Middle to higher classes are 06, poor are 25 and the poorest are 46 families. Supports from the Government and non government organizations hardly reached to the community due to remote and border area. Only a para center for pre primary education support for children from the Chittagong hill tracts development board in the village. Due to this sort of situation, there are many problems including the lack of communication, lack of safe drinking water, lack of irrigation channel and agricultural equipment’s for cultivation. It was difficult for the school and college students as well as the pregnant women in the village to take supports from GoB and NGOs, access to local market and the education due to lack of road communication. Safe drinking water was also a

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Villagers collecting water from wells at before

major health problem in the village. Though there were 3 deep tube wells but it was difficult to meet the want of safe drinking water for the huge number of people in the village. They have to depend on the water sources from wells and the river to wash clothes, take bath and the irrigation of cultivable land. So water born diseases like cholera, diarrhea and typhoid breakout every year during the rainy and dry season. Women had to collect water from the long distances which need 30 to 40 minutes additionally from normal. The villagers could cultivate the land in the less area due to not having available shallow pump machine in the village during the dry season. So they don’t get expected crops due to less production from the agriculture. Only 50-60 Aries of rice could produced in a year. The production could not sale in the local market due to bad road communication between the village and the market and the cost of transportation was high and hard.

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Women collecting water from tube well for safe drinking water

Zabarang Kalyan Samity facilitated the community to take project according to the needs assessment. The undertaken projects are shallow tube well, irrigation channel, pump machine, power pump and road construction. Zabarang facilitated to form a Labor contractive society in the village and involved them during the road construction in the village. Total 75 working days in which 10 no. of male and 10 no. female worked during the construction. The labor costs were equally paid to the both male and female labor.

This village is now changed significantly than before while taking several projects for development of the village. Due to installation of sufficient number of deep tube wells in the village, time has been consumed for collecting safe drinking water than before. The women can collect it within 10 minutes while it was required 30-40 minutes more in before. They can give sufficient time in the household as well as to take care of their child which contributed to increase income in the family. Additionally, water born diseases are reduced for using safe drinking water from the tube wells. Installations of irrigation channels and shallow pump machine at the cultivable land and distribution of agricultural equipment’s have created opportunities to cultivate the lands in due time. They can now cultivate it in two seasons and the two seasonal cultivable lands are increased in the village along with it. The villagers use the agricultural equipment’s properly through

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Production of paddy in the field after construction of irrigation cannel

their own management committee regarding it. If they utilize and mange the resources properly they will be benefited in future which will impact to develop their socioeconomic conditions.          .

Monghla para villagers are now more secure with health and foods in the village.

Monghla Para is in the hilly and remote area at Laxmichari upazila in Khagrachari district. Its geographical area is about 360 acr. It is located at 75k.m. long from Khagrachari district at beside the road of Laxmichari upazila. This is an old village where the Marma community has been living from 115 years. Most of the community in the village is less educated and very few are economically solvent among them. There are total 88 no. families in which 06 no. women led families, 22 no. landless and 58 no. familes who have cultivable land. This village is at the most disadvantage area in 1 no. Laxmichari union. So, this village is selected as the most priority basis for the second phase by the local community leaders and local administrative institutions. As the part of social mobilization, Zabarang facilitated the villagers to select some project activities on need basis.

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Villagers used to collect water from well at earlier

The villagers of Monghla para used to collect water from nearby small cannels and wells for their daily use including drinking of water. It was not safe to drink specially at the rainy season. So, they suffered from many water borne diseases and had to spend a lot of money for the treatment of it every year. Even few of them had to take loan from micro finance institutions or had to mortgage the land property to the lender for it. It needed 40-50 minutes to bring water from wells and cannels for the villagers as well. The village women had to engage in collecting water for most of the times rather than involving themselves for very few moments in other domestic work at home.

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Now the villager using the safe water for daily use

There were some cultivable lands in the village which were cultivated only once in a year due to not having available advance agriculture machineries and irrigation support. The farmer had to hire pump machine and power tiller from other places with costly price to cultivate their land. Few of them had to lease the land to other as well. So, it didn’t meet all of the food requirements for a year in the village. There was always shortage of foods in the village in every year.

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Now the villager cultivating the two seasonal crops with power tiller.

Zabarang mobilized the Monghla para community to take several projects in order to reduce all sorts of problems that exist in the village. The projects are the tube well for safe drinking water, power tiller for cultivation and power pump for irrigation. They have now 4 tube wells for safe drinking water in the village which reduced dependency on cannels and wells at 100%. The family members from 88 households have been ensured safe drinking water through it and changed a positive attitude among the women for using safe drinking water. The women can now involve in more domestic work due to reducing of time in collecting water from nearby tube wells. Moreover, the villagers can also cultivate their land two times in a year with power tiller and power pump. A villager Mr. Aungojai Marma said due to giving water in the crops with power tiller and pump machine production of paddy have increased 11-13 arries more than before in this year. Community people become more aware and producing more vegetables during winter season than before.

About Zabarang

Zabarang Kalyan Samity (ZABARANG) today, is the organization standing at the forefront of community development at the Chittagong Hill Tracts in the 21st Century.

Founded in 28th January, 1995 at Khagrapur village of Sadar Upazila under Khagrachari Hill District by progressive-minded citizens, ZABARANG has a come a long way from its modest beginnings, to an unprecedented track record of significant achievements in the last ten years. That ZABARANG has brought a positive change in development perspectives in Khagrachari Hill District cannot be denied, given the impact of its programs in the lives of the people.

Now, more than ever, ZABARANG is even more vibrant in its pursuit of genuine development for the disadvantaged, the discriminated, and the marginalized sectors of hill district society. ZABARANG aspires for a society free from exploitation, deprivation, malnutrition and oppression. The organization’s underlying strategy to address the need for elimination of poverty, illiteracy, injustice, and discrimination against indigenous people is community involvement. ZABARANG believes that the citizens themselves have the right to decide, to choose, and to uphold what development directions they wish to undertake.

Steering the organization to the right course, and never veering away from his commitment to bring ZABARANG towards the fulfillment of its goals, is the multi-awarded and charismatic Executive Director. Fresh from being proclaimed by the United Nations as one of the most outstanding young leaders of Asia, Mathura Tripura has proven what it takes to run an organization like ZABARANG, and is ably assisted by qualified men and women who are as motivated and inspired to do their best in their particular responsibilities.

Recognizing the inherent management capability of ZABARANG in implementing its programs and projects, the International Aid Agencies such as United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), Save The Children, VSO International, WFP, Action AID Bangladesh, and other leading private corporations entered into partnerships with the organization to carry out their mission in uplifting the communities in the district.

ZABARANG works in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT). It is situated in the southeast region of Bangladesh, bordering Tripura and Mizoram State of India and Myanmar (Burma). This is the only region of Bangladesh where the indigenous peoples are a majority. It is unique for its mountains, forests, lakes and ethnic diversity. Eleven different indigenous ethnic groups live in the region. Although original settlers in the hill tracts, the people have long been deprived of basic needs such as potable water, health, sanitation services, as well as electricity. Where formal development projects were undertaken, very little benefits have accrued to the local people. The situation of Chittagong Hill Tracts was exacerbated by political unrest, armed conflicts, displacement and huge waves of out migration.

Zabarang believes that the negative consequences on the lives of the hill people were caused by inappropriate development projects, formulated and implemented without consultation with the locals. As in any development endeavor, the projects conceived from without did not succeed and subsequently wasted.

Since Zabarang believes in a more contemporary approach to development which involves people in decision-making processes, the organization plays a major role in strengthening community participation to build an active citizenry.