Over 15,000 kindergartens have so far shut down due to Covid-19
The government has decided to reopen the primary, secondary and higher secondary institutes across the country from September 12.
The move – putting an end to a nearly 18 months long Covid-19 closure – comes after the country is seeing a steady decline in its virus cases and deaths.
However, unlike government-funded institutions, owners of kindergarten schools fear that they will fail to resume operations due to a lack of funds and acute manpower shortage.
According to Bangladesh Kindergarten Association (BKA), there are around 60,000 kindergartens in Bangladesh, employing nearly one million teachers.
Around 90% of the schools run in rented houses and are dependent on tuition fees to manage expenditure.
Over 15,000 kindergartens across the country have so far shut down due to the financial turmoil caused by Covid-19.
Teachers changing profession
Having gone unpaid for many months, teachers were forced to change their profession and search for alternative sources of livelihood.
Mohammad Kibria, a former teacher of the Brilliant Residential Model School in Dinajpur, is one of them.
He now works as a carpenter in Gazipur in a desperate attempt to accommodate his higher studies and provide for his family.
“I came to Dhaka in search of work. I was completely broke and had no food for my old parents at home. Thus I had to take up the job of a carpenter to support myself and my family,” Kibria said.
His school, which taught 300 students and had 17 teachers, has now been turned into a coaching centre like many others.
Nur Akhter Dolly, once the owner of the Green Leaf International School, a budget kindergarten at Adabor in Dhaka, now sells toys to earn a living.
Over 400 students were taking classes in the school. Its finances are now in shambles due to the pandemic, she said.
Owners urge govt for financial assistance
Nazmun Nahar Rekha, the owner of Inspire Model School and senior vice chairman of Bangladesh Kindergarten School and College Oikya Parishad, said: “Most of our teachers have returned to their villages for survival.
“Even after the government announcement on the reopening of educational institutions many of us are skeptical whether we would get enough students to keep things running.”
Iqbal Bahar Chowdhury, chairman of Bangladesh Kindergarten School and College Oikya Parishad, echoed Rekha.
According to Iqbal, over 20% of the kindergartens in the country are unlikely to be able to reopen.
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He urged the government to provide the owners with financial assistance so that they could continue serving millions of students.
“The government is yet to decide on this issue. All we want is some help. Many of us were forced to stop the schools due to the financial crisis.
“We have submitted memorandums to the authorities demanding support. But any assistance is yet to come,” Iqbl added.
Contacted, Md Faruk Alam, assistant secretary of Primary and Mass Education (PME), said: “We are not yet considering any assistance for the kindergarten schools.”