Bangla Language and Cultural School
Association's Bangla School
The Bangla Language and Cultural School operates under the umbrella of the Bangladesh Australia Association Canberra Inc. and Canberra Ethnic Schools Association. The school endeavors to expose children to the Bangla language and Bangladeshi culture through a formal curriculum and community based activities.
To provide children with a positive and enjoyable introduction to the Bangla language and Bangladeshi culture.
In the mid 1980’s the Bangladeshi community in Canberra felt the need for a community school in the ACT. They established the 'Nabaroon Bangla School' with a view to imparting Bangla teaching to children and to providing awareness of the rich cultural heritage of Bangladesh. The activities of the school went smoothly for a while, however, due to the smaller size of the community and the shortage of adequate number of children the school could not operate and had to be closed for a year or so. With the increase in the number of Bangla speaking families living in Canberra, the community members felt the need to reopen the school. The school reopened in 1992 with reinvigorated enthusiasm and was named the Bangla Language and Cultural School.
The school has developed different programs to teach Bangla language and culture. Apart from textbook and classroom teaching of the Bangla language, the children are taught various cultural activities, such as songs, dances and drama. To meet parent requests for Islamic education, the school also holds religion classes, where children are taught to read and learn verses from the Koran. Modern teaching aids such as audiocassettes, videos and Internet are also used as a form of communication to the students of the school.
The weekly classes strongly emphasizes formal reading and writing, however, this is done through stories, poems, games and other material relevant to the interests of the different aged students. One of the highlights of the school every week are the lolly bags – chips, chocolate and juice – which no child refuses. All this emphasis on fun and enjoyment may appear unusual to the traditional educationist but goes to the heart of the school, which is to provide children with a positive and enjoyable introduction to Bangla and Bangladeshi culture. And it appears to work – most students look forward to the weekly classes (how else would they get the lollybag) and all of them apply themselves to the learning process with a great deal of enthusiasm.
This year the school has 15 to 20 students and eight regular teachers. The students range in age from around five to 13 and are divided into classes of similar skill levels. There is no minimum (or maximum) age for students, although between the ages of four and five appears to be a good starting age.
Over the last few years, the Canberra Bangla Language and Culture School has become an integral part of the Canberra community. Children from the school participate in the Canberra Multicultural Festival every year, entertaining Canberrans with Bangladeshi songs and dances, while both teachers and students come together to form a lively and colourful core of Bangaldeshis who march at the Multicultural Parade at the end of the Festival.
The school also has a regular presence at the Canberra Ethnic Schools Language Day, where for the last few years, the Bangladeshi samosas have been outselling other varieties of food from all the other stalls! The school also hosts an annual picnic (bonbhojon) for the school children and their families as well as planned excursions during the school year.