Ten million kids will not return to their classrooms after the coronavirus pandemic, a research of the UK-based Save the Children has revealed. This is a grave concern, not only for the whole world, but also for Bangladesh as well.
According to Save the Children, it will be caused by increasing poverty and shrinking funds to promote education. A number of studies carried out by government and private organisations reveal that the COVID-19 situation has left middle class families as lower middle class and lower middle class families as poor.
The poverty rate has also jumped to 35 per cent from 22 per cent. If the deadlock continues for long, many more will be affected. However, we have the consolation that Bangladesh is not among the top ten countries that are the most vulnerable as determined by the Save the Children. The most vulnerable countries are Niger, Mali, Liberia, Afghanistan, Guinea, Mauritania, Yemen, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal and Ivory Coast.
The pandemic has not only hit the education sector, but it has also been a threat to children’s healthcare and nutrition. The government needs to consider these issues very seriously. Although the nation had pledged to ensure the basic rights for all, she could not do that even almost 50 years after the independence.
People who cannot manage a square meal, how will they send their kids to the school? The government has taken a few steps to contain dropout but still they could not ensure primary education for all. Although admission into the schools has a near 100 per cent record, a big number drops out of the school before completing primary education.
Now the government needs to take steps so that not many students drop out after the pandemic. If some of them do, they need to think of ways to bring them back to school. They can design new campaigns besides continuing the existing ones to this end.
One of the reasons behind the recent decrease in dropout rate was giving the girls stipends and providing the students with lunch. Government data say the literacy rate in the country is 72 per cent, which means 170 million people are deprived of the fruits of education.
As per the SDGs, education for all is to be ensured by 2030. The government may undertake aid programmes for guardians that will only be available to those who send their children to the school. More funds will also be required to design plans to draw more students to the schools. We should try to ensure that no students have to drop out because of the pandemic.