Yatim and Hafiz Khana, an orphanage and Islamic school situated by the famous
Hazrat Shah Amanat Shrine in Chittagong, claims to have mentored thousands of Hafiz (one who memorizes the holy Koran) since
its establishment in 1970. Over 200 students share the same wooden bench for
eating, sleeping, and studying–and all share a single washroom.
Orphans and the
homeless receive free food, shelter, and education, and can be admitted to
another madrassa or
high school later. It takes 15 months to 4 years to become a Hafiz,
says a mentor at Tannjimul Muslemin Yatim and Hafiz Khana. Lessons begin right
after fajr (dawn)
prayer up to dinner, with two short breaks for supper and chores. Without any
playgrounds, students usually play indoor games.
According to UN
statistics, 6 million students are enrolled in the madrassa system
in Bangladesh. With an illiteracy
rate of 48 percent, Bangladesh’s poor are provided
educational opportunities at the madrassas. According to a World Bank study,madrassas have
helped to achieve some UN development goals, such as improving equality between
boys and girls.