The Azad Choudhury Academy
The Rotary Club of Birmingham is proud to have as one of its main projects the Azad Choudhury Academy in Sylhet, Bangladesh.
The Azad Choudhury Academy is situated 16km east of Sylhet City. It was founded to provide an excellent education to some of the poorest children in the world. Schools and colleges in rural Bangladesh tend to get neglected with very little support.
Originally donating £500 towards books the club went on to purchase computers for the students. Over the years the club have donated several thousands of pounds towards equipment for the school, as has the Rotary Club of Solihull and through match funding Rotary International. Private donations and several fund raising events that take place throughout have also supported the building development.
The School is named after Azad Choudhury, who ran Regards Restaurant in Edgbaston. After inheriting land from his grandfather and discovering there was no high school in the district where he had been born, be sold the land in order to build the school. Mr Choudhury, who came to Birmingham as a student in 1973, said most of the parents are farmers and day labourers, barely earning £2 a day to meet their needs.
The Academy opened its doors to the children of this region in January 2008 and is now teaching 650 pupils and has 23 teachers. The school offers Kindergarten, Primary and Secondary education with pupils gaining qualifications to GCSE standard. Currently, four pupils are studying at university for courses including medicine and business studies. The Azad Choudhury Academy is the first school in Bangladesh to provide vocational courses alongside academic subjects. The school has changed the culture surrounding education in the local area. Education was maybe for boys, but education for girls was unheard of. Today, 50 per cent of the pupils at the Academy are girls.
The children at the ACA do not have much. Their school uniforms, which are the only decent clothing these children have; are provided by the school. The Academy also funds projects within the local community, providing flood shelters, home improvements and clean free water access. These works directly benefit the local community where the children live. The aim is to not only provide a good education but to provide a safe environment for all the children to live and play in. Many people in Bangladesh have little access to clean and safe drinking water. The Azad Choudhury Academy aims to provide free safe drinking water to all its students.