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“Active Citizens are the agents of change”
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“Active Citizens are the agents of change”

Bushra TabassumStudent members of Active Citizens are building a better future, writes Bushra Tabassum, 22, a Correspondent from Dhaka in Bangladesh, through projects as diverse as providing birth certificates and raising awareness about conservation.

Podokkhep – A Step Ahead is a group of Active Citizens and a platform to lend a hand for social work. 

The British Council runs Active Citizens program in different countries including Bangladesh. The motto of this program is to promote leadership and the skill of youths for the betterment of society. 

Members of Podokkhep – A Step Ahead completed the  British Council Active Citizens Youth Leadership Training Program in October, 2012 through Democracywatch and formed a group centred on their community-based Social Action Project (SAP). All the members of the group are students. The group emphasizes the topic “Building Future, Creating Awareness”, and our concerns are children, education and the environment. 

In keeping with the motto “Building Future, Creating Awareness”, Active Citizens Podokkhep- A Step Ahead has taken the initiative to provide birth certificates for underprivileged children. A birth certificate is a very important document, enabling a person to access his or her rights and facilities as a citizen of a country.

As underprivileged people lack awareness and also lack knowledge about the procedure of getting a birth certificate, Active Citizen Podokkhep- A Step Ahead has worked to provide birth certificate to almost all the children of a slum at Agargaon. The team acquired birth registration forms from the authority and conducted field work such as collecting information and filling out the forms. The forms are submitted to the office for further procedure, and later they collected the completed birth registration forms and distributed them among slum children.

Their first SAP was ‘Birth registration for slum children’ which is also recognized in the British Council Bangladesh Active Citizens Annual repost of 2013 titled ‘Dhaka: Claiming rights step by step’. The mission of the SAP are promoting and ensuring birth registration among under privileged children; awareness about citizens’ rights and duties; ensuring sustainable development; birth registration in Bangladesh; and social and economic development of communities. 

Their next SAP was to promote social awareness about citizens’ rights and duties, and to create environmental awareness about power savings and sanitation among the children and school students by running one- to two-hour workshops on in different schools. A session for students of class three of the UniversityLaboratorySchool and College (ULAB), IER, University of Dhaka included a presentation, game, cartoons on energy savings, discussion and a mock session all designed to make students aware and motivate them to meet their duties.

While the prime concern was to raise awareness about their duties, we designed the program to be interesting and enjoyable to the students. Objectives were to make children eco friendly, organize events for sustainable development, raise awareness about citizens’ rights and duties and ensure sustainable development. Follow up included feedback and distributing chocolate among the students as a gift.

Active Citizens are the agents of change. The Social Action Project (SAP) “Building Future, Creating Awareness” can have a positive and productive impact on society and our community. Look for more information at www.podokkhep.weebly.com

Photo: Podokkhep

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About me: I am from Bangladesh, the land of rivers and green. Currently I am a student of Economics at the University of Dhaka. I am interested to learn about different cultures and also interested in development issues, photography, publication, oil painting and research. 

Other than these, I love to spend time with my family and hanging out with friends.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response.
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

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