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Mrs Demetriades visits Bangladesh

Mrs Demetriades writes:

Hello, I have just returned from an amazing eight day trip to Bangladesh as part of a Connecting Classrooms programme paid for by the British Council.

The idea is that teachers visit another school, and look at different teaching and learning in classrooms in a very different cultural setting from our own, and also learn about the social, cultural and religious lifestyles of the people.  Hopefully it increases understanding and global responsibility between teachers, which will then become integrated into our teaching in school. 

I have had the privilege of visiting Ichapura High school in Bangladesh and it has been an eye opening and inspiring visit.

I was treated as an honoured guest everywhere that I went; the staff and pupils welcomed me with generosity and openness.  Bangladesh is a developing country, and the people there own very little in comparison to us, however everywhere I went, I was showered with food and gifts from whatever they could afford (I even planted a mango tree in the school in honour of the visit).

The school building and facilities can only be described as basic, in comparison to what we are used to here.  However, the positive nature and enthusiasm of the students to learn was overwhelming; they all wanted to improve their own life chances and the chance of Bangladesh itself to grow and develop.  Class sizes of 60 - 70 did not put off the pupils, who each brought an exercise book and pen from home and did all of their lessons in this one book.  The Head Teacher wants to improve the technology in the classes, in order to develop the way that the students learn, so he was keen to show me the teachers using power points to teach, even though only a few classes had projectors which were focused on the wall as they had very few white coloured boards.

I was lucky enough to be taken to local areas of beauty, the River Padma, the very fertile fields of potatoes and rice, with women, children and men working hard, picking produce by hand.  Most people lived in one room homes, many of which had no electricity, and in many areas the only place to wash you or your clothes or pots and pans was the local pond, (Bangladesh has many ponds due to the monsoon rains each year).

It was an experience that I will not forget. It made me very grateful for the comfort that we live in here in the UK, but also very humbled by the warmth and generosity of people who had almost nothing in the way of consumer goods.  They were loving, and generous and welcoming in a way that we do not demonstrate in our culture, and also very determined to improve the life of themselves and their country. I think there is a lot we can learn from them.

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