Children of the char are left out of alternative learning

In the wake of the ongoing pandemic, education institutions will remain closed nationwide. A report published recently in this daily depicts how the lockdown has affected students living near the char areas of the northern districts.

With the gates of the schools shut, the students are deprived of daily lessons. Most parents in the char region don’t have the necessary education and expertise to teach their children as a temporary measure.

Before the lockdown, many people on the char benefitted from agricultural development but this is not the case anymore. Amidst the pandemic, the children are either playing in the fields or loitering around their neighbourhoods while their parents are busy trying to source food and make ends meet.
We are concerned that this lack of schooling will result in higher dropout rates in the near future. Earlier, the government introduced education through TV for students to help them complete lesson plans, while many schools made similar arrangements online to continue the flow of learning.

However, as internet and television networks are poor or nonexistent in island and coastal areas, the children there are miserably deprived of such alternative facilities.

To make matters worse, the recent cyclone Amphan damaged many schools in the coastal belt. With schools remaining closed, experts estimate nearly three million children living in the country’s char, coastal and low-lying areas might suffer and will not be able to finish their yearly academic syllabus.

Last month, the European Union (EU) transferred EUR 46.125 million to the Bangladesh government to support key national reforms in primary, vocational and technical education sectors.

We believe that the government should allocate the fund strategically, especially towards the children in such char areas, where alternative means of education cannot be accessed.

The authorities can identify the underprivileged students and find ways to improve their internet access in collaboration with telecom companies.

They can further coordinate with experts and implement wide-ranging plans on addressing the long-term impacts of the ongoing crisis.

It is important to develop innovative ways to engage these children in learning and make sure they are not falling behind in their studies.

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