The journey of UCEP Bangladesh started when the cords in the heart of one person, a New Zealander, Lindsay Allan Cheyne, was struck by the plight he witnessed of children during the devastating cyclone in 1970 and the ravages of the War of Liberation in 1971 of Bangladesh.
In 1972, Cheyne came to newly liberated Bangladesh as an employee of an international organization to look after some development work. As he came to Dhaka, he saw children of 8 to 10 years engaged outdoors in risky occupations at different locations. He felt deeply shocked at this sight. He thought he must do ‘something’ for them. Around that time, Dr. Ahmadullah Miah, Assistant Professor, Institute of Social Welfare and Research, University of Dhaka published a study titled ‘Child Labour in Dacca City’. Based on the contents of the study, Cheyne prepared a project proposal that included hands-on training for children with provision for basic education.
The program initially started with 60 learners at the Institute of Social Welfare and Research, University of Dhaka, which was known as the first ‘afternoon school’. In 1973 he opened the first UCEP General School upto class VIII in a rented house at Segunbagicha, Dhaka. Here it is relevant to mention that the house he took was the house where the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman used to stay when he was the Chairman of Pakistan Tea-Board. Cheyne opened the first UCEP Technical School at Mirpur Dhaka in 1983 with three trades- electric, tailoring and carpentry.
Cheyne dreamed that UCEP would grow up as an international organization in South Asia and it would be extended from Bangladesh to India, Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal & Maldives. But this dream of his could not be realized. UCEP’s extent of operational areas were limited to Bangladesh & Nepal.
Allan Cheyne passed away all on a sudden on September 15, 1986.