How long education in govt primary schools will remain neglected

EditorialProthom Alo illustration

To call the depiction of 40 educational institutes from the capital, portrayed by Prothom Alo on 4 May, worrying, would indeed be an understatement.

On the many, land and buildings of some schools have been unlawfully occupied while some don’t even have classrooms for the students or teachers’ common room. There are no playgrounds, toilettes or drinking water supply either.

Walls and roofs of many schools have collapsed and the floors get waterlogged during the rainy season. Deadly accidents can occur at any moment. Meanwhile, WASA’s water pumps have been installed on the grounds of many schools.

According to ministry data, there are currently 65,620 government primary schools across the country. Of them, 342 are located in the capital. The news of the land and buildings belonging to 21 of those schools being dispossessed astounds us.

Being under the wings of ruling power it is the local influential people who commit the encroachment. If there was a rule of law in the country, none could have occupied government properties like this.

We don’t want to hear statements like we are hearing of many encroachments or promises like efforts are on to recover them, from the officials.

Let them prove that they do have a responsibility towards the country’s education and students indeed by recovering the dispossessed land and buildings.

The report also states that in 2015, the then primary and mass education minister while visiting a government primary school in Wari had promised to construct a new building there soon.

That building hasn’t been built even now. Students attend classes there taking risks. One minister replaces another; one secretary comes in place of another but the miserable condition of the primary schools in the shimmering city of Dhaka, don’t change.

Primary education was made elementary and compulsory in 1973. But now it has been commercialised excessively.

The rich and well-off people send their children to private schools spending huge amounts of money. However, the poor and low-income people don’t have the chance to go beyond government primary schools.

Basically, there are two reasons behind the deplorable condition of the capital’s government primary schools.  

Firstly, poor children study in these educational institutes. Therefore, the primary and mass education ministry as well as the government has limitless negligence towards the schools of the poor.

The minister and officials of this ministry would’ve paid more attention if their own children or wealthy children in general studied in these schools.

Secondly, local influential people don’t want the government primary schools located there to run smoothly. If the government schools get closed, they will be able to easily occupy the land and the buildings.

So, the lands and buildings of those government primary schools in the capital which have been dispossessed have to be recovered fast. And, minimum infrastructure for the educational institutes has to be ensured.  

The government has taken a project at the cost of Tk 11.6 billion (1,160 crore) for the construction of impressive school buildings, the project period for which is from January 2020 to December 2024. But the project has begun only in 10 schools till 2023 and that’s extremely frustrating.

It must also be pointed out that only 342 government primary schools are in no way enough for this capital city with millions of population. Let the number of schools be increased even more.

An example of city dwellers being driven to send their children to government schools for education by improving the quality and environment can easily be found in Delhi, the capital of our neighbouring country.

From seeing this miserable condition of the government primary schools in the capital it appears that the condition in the majority of the primary schools in other areas of the country, especially, in the remote rural areas, isn’t that good either.

Hopefully, the government will take sustainable and effective steps in solving this basic problem of the education sector. The policy makers too have to understand that it’s impossible to improve the quality of education by keeping the government primary schools in poor condition.