Education is fundamental to the Camellia Duncan Foundation School's (CDFS) vision of sustainable social progress. Duncans is an example of providing education to make a real difference to community development in Bangladesh. In the 16 group gardens there are 26 garden run primary schools in addition to 15 government aided primary schools with 60 teachers teaching 3,250 students operating a morning and a afternoon sessions for classes. A secondary school for the workers’ children of the Group was established by converting the old Lungla Central Hospital for this purpose. Considering the long term objective of bringing up students in a conducive environment it was decided to make the school fully residential to ensure all round development of the students. Ground breaking was done by P. A. Leggatt on February 1, 2003 and the CDFS was inaugurated by Gordon Fox on March 26, 2004 including a residential facility. The school building has a area of 12,675 square feet accommodating two blocks for classrooms, laboratory, administrative functions and three dormitories for the students to live in.
The inauguration of the school created a sense of pride and confidence in the tea community within Bangladesh and this was echoed by the then Chairman of the Bangladesh Tea Association, in his inaugural speech, “We in the tea industry view this as a bold venture. I personally see it as a project with a vision. A Vision for uplifting the sections of our comunity.”
The school started in 2004 with 37 students in three classes – VI, VII and VIII. A group of 15 fulltime teachers look after the academic and extracurricular activities such as debating, drama, art and sports. The result of this initiative was first seen in 2007 when 12 students graduated successfully in the Secondary School Certificate examination. Each year about 17 students are enrolled at the entry level of class VI and in 2008 the first class of girls was admitted with a separate dormitory for them.
The Group hopes establish secondary schools in other valleys. CDFS was the beginning of a new era where the workers’ children, with a good foundation, would have the opportunity to be provided with an excellent secondary education and to establish themselves in society. Efforts undertaken by the Group have yielded dividends as former students of CDFS are now pursuing their higher studies in the leading educational institutions of the country. One of the students, Rubel Ahmed has entered Barisal Medical College through a very competitive national level admission test. He is the first one. There are many more in line to follow his example to become doctors, engineers, teachers or the career they choose contributing towards society and of course pride of their parents.