* meeting with the participants of project “IT4Women”

Last winter I went to visit girls at the Adhunika Bangladesh Society’s office at Azimpur, Dhaka. I was joined by Sharmin Banu who also flew there from USA.  We had been involved with Adhunika’s activities and programs for several years especially in the Adhunika blog , that was aimed towards raising awareness among girls.  Therefore, I was looking forward to seeing how the programs were impacting girls who were being trained at the ABS’s computer training program.

From Left Anamika Sarker, Moushumi Acharya & Ferdous Oneza There were about 20 girls and ABS’s staff Md. Ali – the Information Technology Coordinator, Moushumee Acharya & Anamika Sarker – IT Instructor, and Shahinoor – the office assistant present.  The aim of the visit was to hear from the students how the program was working out, how it could be more helpful for them. Sharmin and I both shared our work, lives and struggles in USA. We shared how our  hard work,  life and education to get to where we were and it was constantly evolving.  No one whether in USA or in Bangladesh could achieve success without proper training and hard work.

ABS Participants We saw bright promising eyes around the room full of energy and enthusiasm. These girls shared their experience at ABS and at work, education and society. They expressed how helpful the computer training programs had been as it gave them a competitive advantage in the job market.  But they expressed concern that sometimes they felt without guidance at their education in colleges or universities. They also shared their concern to deal with the society and work environment which were still not very conducive to women employees.

From such discussion, it appeared to us that some may need guidance on setting a life goal. For example, if someone was studying geography while the jobs on demand were for business major, what kind of opportunities the non-business graduates could find.  Sharmin’s suggestion is to bring guest speakers, self-made people who can motivate these young minds. We assured them that if they focused, any major in education could have potential; also that it was important to develop job skills side by side education.

Out of the discussion regarding ABS’s program, we found the following issues to be considered:

·         How to involve past graduates. How to give them opportunity to learn new things that were added later on.

·         Expansion of the program that would require additional funding.

·         Course design – some students said if the course could have been made longer in duration, such as 4 months instead of 3 months.

·         Instead of 4 days a week they suggested it 3 days a week

Sharmin Banu with ABS participantsSharmin and I asked students if they could be accountable and give something back to the program after they graduated. We saw some excitement from the past graduates as they were willing to give back to the program, helping new students to train at no cost or minimal cost. We saw this as a benefit for ABS in terms of expanding the training without much cost and making the program more self-sustaining. At the end, we came back with a good experience and hope in mind.

~

Ferdouse Oneza, Friends of Adhunika since 2005

Photo Courtesy: Sharmin Banu

 

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Adhunika blog is launched with a mission to share knowledge among women from every walk of life. Sometime it would be in the form of sharing experience to find a feasible solution of a problem; sometime it would be in the form of professional consultation, which Adhunika group will arrange for its bloggers. Nevertheless, the intent of this blog always remains the same - to help and empower women through a common web-based platform....read more

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