No Longer Different

Nurjahan Mitu is a lively eight year old girl who loves to talk and play with her friends.Three years ago the picture was quite different: she had great difficulties with talking because of her speech disability.Mitu's parents, Miss Beauty and Mr. Ekramul, noticed that their daughter has problems with speech when she was just one year old.

A physician meant that care, exercises and opportunities to talk would help in developing her speech abilities. Mitu felt lonely at home since her mother was often busy with household chores. Other children avoided her because of her speech problems which made her very shy and withdrawn.Her condition was deteriorating day by day.

In 2011, PROTEEVA, an early childhood development project implemented by Save the Children with the support of USAID, started ensuring pre-primary education for all children in Thataripara village in the Gopalpur Union of Badargogn Upazila in Rangpur.

PROTEEVA staff convinced Mitu's parents of the program and parents enrolled Mitu in the PROTEEVA pre-school. A trained teacher involved Mitu in making friends and enjoying the fun of child friendly activities at the PROTEEVA preschool.

The teacher made peer pairs to help Mitu in the class and at home. The teacher gave her extra tuition which made a difference in Mitu's academic achievements and social skills.Having attended parenting sessions Mitu's parents learnt to treat her equally with other children without special needs. "I didn't think my daughter would be able to speak, go to school nor read. I feel very proud when I see her playing with friends and people understand her speech”, said Mitu’s Mother.

Mitu is prepared to move on with her education. The school opened a new door for her to proceed forward. She is in Grade III now.Since 2011 thousands of boys and girls like Mitu have got learning opportunities and been able to use their right to education. Pre-primary centers play a significant role in ensuring education to differently abled children.

About 2.6 million children between the ages of 3 to 10 suffer from different forms of disabilities. 89 per cent don't attend any form of schooling. The Government of Bangladesh is working on a plan to introduce inclusive education which is also a mandate of PROTEEVA.

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