3RD ROCK: GIVE BACK FRIDAY
Join us for a thought-provoking dialogue between our Founder, Jessica Mor, and Nazeem Azim, factory owner and GLP board member and volunteer, as they delve into the profound impact of our collaboration with the Gulshan Literacy Programme (GLP) Foundation.
Our commitment to donating 25% of our Black Friday profits to the GLP Foundation echoes our passion for fostering meaningful change. Discover how this initiative plays a pivotal role in supporting underprivileged children in Dhaka, Bangladesh—home to one of our factories.
Through GLP's tireless efforts, they've championed the cause of free, high-quality education, providing a beacon of hope to kids who would otherwise navigate the harsh labour market, risking their well-being. These young learners face the daunting challenges of socio-economic vulnerability, amplifying the risk of school dropout rates. With two urban schools under GLP's wing, situated in Mirpur and Badda, they offer educational sanctuary to around 450 children annually. Each child nurtured through GLP's compassionate guidance marks a milestone in the journey toward a brighter future.
This candid discussion between Jessica and Nazeem unravels the profound impact of our partnership and how your support on Black Friday directly contributes to a cause that transcends the Black Friday frenzy.
Around 450 students in total
with 230 students in each campus
Maximum class size of 25 students
The GLP employs 15 full time teachers
It costs $250 to send a child to school for a year
So I would like to share with the 3RD ROCK Community an insight into the charity that we are supporting this Black Friday and the charity that we've chosen is very close to both of our hearts.
It's the GLP Foundation. This charity gives the gift of education to those who wouldn't normally be able to access it. Nazneen is a passionate advocate of this wonderful charity and is a chairperson for the committee. So Nazneen, I wanted to ask you; why are there so many huge challenges for the Bangladesh government in providing education to all children?
In a densely populated area like this, with a surge in population due to refugee influxes, the government shoulders a massive responsibility. They provide free books and Bengali-medium education in schools, addressing some educational needs. However, numerous challenges exist in a third-world country with an overflow of people and various slum areas. Many migrate from villages seeking city jobs and settlement, adding to the population in these areas. Our efforts aim to enhance the city and education through our school, contributing our part to the community.
Amazing! And what exactly is the GLP Foundation?
The GLP, Gulshan Literacy Program Foundation, originated from a Dutch woman who initially educated local children, including her workers' and street kids, in her garage, providing education and food. With the support of international women, they expanded, renting two locations and forming a school.
As a volunteer from the British Women's Organization, I supported this school. When the foreign helpers withdrew, a few volunteers like Razia and myself, both married to Bangladeshis, stayed to support the school. With about 400 children initially, we increased the number to 430 to 450 due to growing demand. The school is renowned for offering quality English education, rescuing children from potential street life or abuse, especially vulnerable girl children when parents work.
Despite limitations, the children tutor others in the community, sharing skills and earning a bit. It's amazing to see how respected the school and its students are, creating positive impacts by teaching and learning.
So the GLP Foundation is run on charity donations?
Absolutely, our operational costs don't include office expenses; we handle all administrative work as volunteers. Our committee comprises nine volunteers, and we welcome local volunteers occasionally.
Thrive, another international organisation, provides food, offering meals to the children several times a week, based on their funding capacity. It's a stretch to fund meals for 420 children monthly, aiming to maintain nutritional balance and improve the health of these malnourished children.
So the GLP Foundation has two schools in two different sites within Dhaka and it's funded with charity donations and it gives the gift of education to those who would normally not be able to access it. Where do the majority of the students come from and how are they selected?
Most of our students are from the local areas, mainly from diverse slum areas we've chosen. If you ever visit Bangladesh, I'd gladly take you to both schools to show the difference. One school is in a significantly poor area with a lot of garment industries nearby. We aim to support the community by fundraising and donations for the school.
Our goal is not only to educate the children but also to create awareness programs for parents, teaching them about hygiene and nutrition. We ensure equal treatment for boys and girls at our school, encouraging girls to pursue full education till Grade 8 and beyond, even into technical schools. We've also navigated the complexities of government programs to provide free evening classes and curriculum courses, including computer education, emphasising both English and Bengali national curricula. Maintaining and upgrading the computers for quality education is challenging but vital.
So how old are the students when they start? And How do you select your students?
We admit children at the kindergarten or first-grade level, typically around 5 years old. Parents bring their children for a test, guided by the teachers, as we wish to accommodate all children, but due to space limitations, we can only enrol 25 to 30 students per batch. The admission process is fair and transparent, ensuring no favouritism. Dedicated teachers from local areas, who might not otherwise afford to come, also contribute to our educational efforts.
Do you also have in the selection process the financial capability of the parents of the household?
We have specific criteria to consider, including the area's living conditions, earning capacities, and a household income threshold. Initially, the income threshold was around 5,000, then increased to 7,000, and presently stands at approximately 10,000 for household income. When enrolling a student, the household income must be below this threshold. However, if the parents' income increases later, we can't remove the child from the program.
We select children based on stringent criteria, prioritising those from impoverished backgrounds, particularly girls with a single working mother. The selection process prioritises children with the greatest need. The program typically starts around four and a half years old.
What age do the students graduate?
Class 8 students are around 14 to 15 years old and afterward, they take the SSC or HSC exams. These exams serve as a progress check. Previously, a mid-exam at fifth grade showcased good results, but now only exams in class 10 and 12 exist.
After attending these schools, students' prospects hopefully improve. Some alumni have opened businesses, graduated, worked in various fields, or pursued higher education. Some NGOs provide technical training like mechanics or paramedics alongside SSC and HSC education.
Encouraging top-performing students in class 8 or 9, a few get additional vocational training. Financially, it costs about 25,000 takas ($250) per year per child, covering teachers' wages, school rent, maintenance, lunches, books, and school bags.
There's a hope for future scholarships for deserving students facing financial barriers to continue their education. Currently, sustaining the school's day-to-day expenses remains a major challenge.
Our expenses cover rent, electricity, and maintenance. Special donations help provide food, including milk, fruits, and occasional eggs, along with peanuts, taking care as the children do not have allergies. These snacks are a rarity for them and contribute to their health.
We previously discussed the challenges faced by the children and how the GLP Foundation supports them. In their English lessons, the children create plays that often reveal their real-life issues. These dramas provide insights into the challenges they encounter, such as exposure to drugs or early marriages.
Twice a year, once in December and another in February, we organise picnics for children and teachers. These picnics are special occasions where they go to recreational grounds, play, and bond. We arrange transport and cover the expenses through fundraising. While we encourage creating programs in their language, we provide formal English education through locally educated English teachers.
Thanks for your time, Nazneen. I've really enjoyed talking to you!
I'd like to say I'm very proud that Nazneen's family business, Azim and Sons, produces 3RD ROCK’s trousers in Dhaka in Bangladesh and we've chosen to support this charity as it positively impacts disadvantaged children in the area, and we know that having access to quality education massively positively impacts people's lives and we can 100% guarantee that the funds raised go directly to this charity and are deployed in the best way possible.
We really want to give the gift of education to those who wouldn't normally be able to access it and our Black Friday SALE can become light for children. 3RD ROCK is really excited to be able to contribute to your really great cause, Nazeen.
Thank you! It's a pleasure. I'd love 3RD ROCK to get more involved and witness the impact on the children. Your participation now is a great step, and I hope for more Black Fridays, bringing light to more children. You're most welcome, and thank you very much for taking this step. I warmly welcome 3RD ROCK into my donor community.