Enamul Haque

Deputy National Director SOS Children's Villages in Bangladesh

Quality youth integration. Opportunity comes only once in our lives!

As an SOS co-worker, guiding and assisting young people is the main aim. Being an SOS adult and holding a position in the National Office, SOS young people have immense expectations of me. It is not always possible to make everyone happy by fulfilling his or her desires. The young people who have grown up in SOS Children’s Village should be able to live on their own. From the day a child is welcomed into an SOS family or programme, they are supported to develop their potential and become self-supporting and participating members of society.

Decisions on care, accommodation, education and career path are always taken together with the young person and are based on their development needs and best interests.

The path towards an independent life
In order to improve youth care and employability, we take decisions in the best interests of the young person. We provide personalised youth services that enable the young person to succeed in life and we take specific steps to prepare them to enter the job market.

When young people over 18 years of age try to start semi-independent living, we make sure they are visited once every month by a youth care co-worker, village director or mother to play a counselling and advisory role. We also thoroughly plan and implement the process of leaving care and aftercare. We have specific plans for this which we follow in all our youth care programmes. Even after independence, young people can come back home to find support.

Education guideline
We have a specific Education Guideline for the children and young people in SOS Children’s Villages Bangladesh. The major aims and objectives of the guideline are as follows:

  • To encourage children to explore their full potential through education.
  • To clarify and create a common understanding amongst children and co-workers for achieving the educational goals of every individual boy and girl in line with their wishes and capabilities.
  • To develop an attitude in children and young people and prepare them to make a reasoned decision on general or technical education.
As per the guideline, we maintain two types of educational plans. The first one is the Child Development Plan for children up to grade eight, which is updated every year. The second one is the eight-year Educational Development Plan for young people which are prepared when a young person has passed the junior school certificate examination (grade eight). This plan is prepared on the basis of the young person’s academic results and interests.

The guideline presents details of the scope of educational support available to the children and young people in SOS care and eligibility for admission to different educational institutions.

Youth employability programmes
Our youth employability programmes build on three pillars: 
Coach: We ensure career orientation and coaching for the young people.
Train: We try to strengthen their vocational, employability, and entrepreneurial skills.
Practice: We ensure their access to work experience and training in partnership with the private sector.

Choosing the right career path during education
Our education system in Bangladesh is highly competitive in nature with limited job opportunities. Each individual has different goals, talents, interests and values. In other words, there are certain careers which not every individual should pursue and others where they could excel and be satisfied. We create opportunities for young people with career assessments, career counselling and thorough self-evaluation so that they can determine what they would enjoy and where they could shine. However, developing the right career path during schooling is not an easy task.

Supporting the right decision
I received a phone call from the village director of SOS Children’s Village Dhaka, Bangladesh around March 2012 to talk about Liza1, a talented, ambitious young person. She completed her secondary school certificate examination in the science group with a good result. However, at higher secondary level she changed educational track and applied to a college in the business studies group, which was very difficult for her SOS mother, the village director and all the teachers to accept as she had the talent to pursue a future in medical science or engineering.

We showed her different paths
After passing the higher secondary certificate examination, Liza expressed her desire to obtain admission to a professional certification course in chartered accountancy. Failing to convince her in favour of higher education in a public university, the village director asked me to join a meeting with Liza. We sat in my office and had a detailed discussion with her. I gave the example of my childhood days in SOS Children’s Village and tried to link this to the situation she was now faced with. The first meeting passed with no result. After one week we met again with the young person and tried to get her to understand that life doesn’t provide many chances, unlike in a film, and that opportunity comes only once in our lives. We showed her different paths to succeed in life. Even then, she was confused and felt in a dilemma. We suggested she take time and reflect upon it. After a few days, we sat down with her for the third time, seeing her firm determination for her personal goal. Pointing out her abilities, for example her good communication skills, ability to make a good impression, her skills in sports and music, we showed her choices in higher education at public universities which could ensure better future prospects and would keep the door open for her to realise her potential in co-curricular activities.

In the end Liza appeared for the admission test to public universities and got the opportunity to study for a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in English at the University of Rajshahi. She has now completed the Honours degree with a decent result and has since finished her Masters in the same subject. During her university life she won several medals for her outstanding performance in games, sports and cultural activities. Liza is now trying to get a scholarship abroad to study for an MBA.

“Choosing the right career path during schooling is crucial,” says Liza. “I’m really thankful to my guardians at SOS Children’s Villages Bangladesh: they helped me to choose the right one. They secured my education which will secure my future.”

1 Original name has been changed to maintain confidentiality

Enamul Haque

is Deputy National Director of SOS Children’s Villages Bangladesh in Dhaka.

He has held this role since 2005. In his leadership position he believes it very important to treat co-workers as valued individuals. As a medical graduate he started his career in the humanitarian sector and received the 7th Hermann Gmeiner Award in 2002. His main motivation is to enable young people to succeed in life by strengthening youth care and employability.

In his limited leisure time, Enamul likes reading books, listening to songs or travelling with his family.
His country is Bangladesh - a land of amazing natural beauty! It is one of the world's most densely populated countries and shares land borders with India and Myanmar (Burma). Dhaka is its capital and largest city. Bangladeshis include people of different ethnic groups and religions. The low-lying country is vulnerable to flooding and cyclones and is at risk of being badly affected by any rise in sea levels. Poverty is serious and widespread.