Nine year old Raju stopped attending school because his classroom education was not engaging. His parents persuaded him to go back to school but he kept on refusing and so they stopped pressuring him. As a result, Raju finally dropped out of school and started working in a store to support his family financially.
In Bangladesh, children who continuously drop out of school like Raju is a common phenomenon. This remains to be the case despite the government financing primary school education. It is likely that around 3 million children in Bangladesh which is equivalent to the entire population of Finland, will drop from school at a very early stage in their education. This is because kids like Raju don’t find school engaging and their parents who come from low socio-economic backgrounds don’t consider education as something valuable.
Back in 2013, Md. Waliullah Bhuiyan and his two friends Nasimul Islam Maruf and Md. Asaduzzaman Shoeb won 3rd place in the Dell Education Challenge. The worldwide competition aimed to inspire innovative ideas from around the world that would help solve the biggest issues in education today. Their idea was originally developed back in 2009 when Md. Waliullah Bhuiyan was working on a rural project for BRAC, an international NGO, in the small village of Patuakhali in Bangladesh.
In 2014, with the grant they received from the competition and an amount they gathered from crowdfunding, they established Light of Hope – a social enterprise that makes learning interesting, engaging and fun for children around the world.
LoH believes that ‘schooling’ is like ‘cooking’. They aim to provide the exact ingredients to make school ‘tasty’ for children. They develop interesting learning materials and support schools to develop the right resources at affordable costs. They also aim to help schools develop a pool of passionate and skilled teachers.
Photo from Light of Hope
As LoH is working on developing the education system, they came up with great impactful solutions to different problems.
Sputnique, is a solar-run low-cost Multimedia Classroom Solution for rural off-grid schools. Surprisingly in Bangladesh, there are at least 30,000 primary schools that don’t have electricity. LoH developed the world’s lowest energy consuming solar-run multimedia classroom solution for these schools. The classroom is equipped with a laptop, a projector, a sound box, and a whole range of learning content. These classrooms provide engaging, interesting and fun learning experiences for children.
Porua is a venture that works with schools in setting up libraries with age-appropriate books. The goal of this project is to create readers among children who have a thirst for knowledge but cannot afford books. LoH collects used story books and maintains partnerships with social organizations for book donations. The project is currently running the largest private-run school library program in Bangladesh where more than 50% of libraries were supported by individuals.
Kids Time is a program that offers fun-filled and activity-based after-school courses to children to help them become critical thinkers who are creative and emotionally intelligent. In this program, the kids learn creative writing, story telling, puppet making, role playing, crafting, and different brain development activities.
Photo from Light of Hope
To bring system-level change in education, two groups are very important —the parents and the teachers. Through the Teachers Time, parents are taught skills in helping improve their children while teachers are trained in their professional development capacities so they can bring teacher-led innovations in schools. Over the last year, Teachers Time ran amazing workshops and training sessions with parents and teachers. Today, it is bringing those courses online so that parents or teachers from anywhere can access these courses. There are over 30 million young parents and 1 million primary school teachers in Bangladesh and these are the people who help out in determining what schools should look like.
Two years ago, LoH was working with a couple of schools impacting about 500 students. As of April 2018, LoH is working with 130 schools all over Bangladesh and impacting more than 50,000 children with school libraries, science labs, and solar-run multimedia classrooms. LoH is seeing more children attending and enjoying school.
In recognition of its amazing work, Lights of Hope has been gaining awards such as the Jolkona Catalyst Program-Social Entrepreneur Award in 2015, Spark International Changemaker-Bangladesh Chapter Award in 2016, and Energy Globe National Award in 2016.
Photo from Light of Hope
Hope for the Future
CEO Md. Waliullah Bhuiyan shared that they are confident that LoH will be able to develop a scalable school model that will help children unleash their true creative potential. He also envisions that children like Raju will come back to school with the hope of gaining interest in learning his lessons and engaging with the classroom environment.
Light of Hope is proof that if people have enough courage and determination to solve a problem and accomplish it, success is infinitely possible.