In the warm of winter morning, two siblings Tashfin and Tanha arrived at their school on Monday in Savar’s Bypile area like any other normal day with their mother.
After attending their first-hour classes at GM Model High School, which also runs a primary section, the fifth and nursery grade students rushed to their playground adorned with concrete showpieces of animals and began playing with their classmates.
Donning white and blue school uniforms, students gathered around a concrete sculpture of giraffe. A majority of them attempted to ride on it. Some others began playing with a deer.
“They barely want to miss school as they get a joyous environment with regular academic activities,” said Rokhsana Akhter Srabon, a mother of two.
In order to provide both amusement and teaching, Golam Haider Khokon, the founder of the school, has decorated the school with concrete statues of penguin, wagtail, deer, and giraffe.
“It is essential for children to receive an education that is enjoyable too. In a village school, I rarely see education and amusement coming together.”
He bought some concrete statues from Savar, keeping in mind the pleasure of his pupils.
Many eye-catching concrete statues, like in this school, can be found in various locations, such as amusement parks, markets, or even restaurants. Many people also use concrete structures of flowers, fruits, birds, and animals to decorate their homes, private plots, and gardens.
During a visit to Savar recently, it was found that a huge numbers of concrete statues of elephants, horses, birds, dinosaurs or even the Statue of Liberty are on display for customers alongside the road on Thana Stand, Genda, and Bismile gate.
Although the cement creatures are considered as a means of beautification, there are stories of entrepreneurs behind them. There is also business potential.
One of the entrepreneurs is Md Saidur Rahman Jibon, the owner of SA Traders who claimed to be the first entrepreneur to introduce the trade in the area.
After quitting the profession of a contractor registered with Savar municipality, he built two elephant calves with concrete in 1991, although he did not have the educational qualifications to make them.
To his surprise, the two cement creatures were sold quickly. Buoyed by the success, he injected some fresh capital to start it full-fledged.
It expanded his footprint, and soon Jibon started supplying the products to various parks across the country.
Gradually, he began to receive orders and his team visited under-construction parks and successfully constructed concrete animal statues.
“The showpieces represent natural things, and we have close ties to the beauty of nature. We simply teach the children with wildlife or natural contents so that they can learn, understand, and enjoy,” Jibon said.
The entrepreneur plans to decorate the parks and tourism attractions across the country with his concrete creatures.
Jibon is pleased to be able to contribute to the state by launching the unique initiative and expressed his joy as he pays value-added tax and tax on a regular basis.
He currently employs 15 artists and labourers, some from fine arts departments from reputed institutions.
The cost of statues ranges from Tk 1,500 and Tk 1 lakh. At least four small shops have sprung up in Savar to meet rising demand.
However, according to academics, the principles of the statue industry have been overlooked in many cases, but these sculptures have gained a strong reputation in the field of practical art. They also see a business opportunity here as well.
Md Shamim Reza, an assistant professor of the fine arts department of Jahangirnagar University, said, “When aesthetics and functionally side come into the art, we call it crafts or industrial art. Though they compromise with the grade of art, it has a good commercial market.”
“That market is expanding day by day.”