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School shutdown hits Khagrachhari students hard

  • Published at 08:20 am June 19th, 2020
A Government Primary School in Alutali area of Khagrachhari Sadar upazila Dhaka Tribune

Children in remote areas have no access to electricity or TV for distance learning

Owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, all educational institutions across the country were closed on March 17 to rein in the spread of the deadly virus. To minimize academic losses, the government started airing classes on Sangsad TV for secondary and primary schools, as well as for technical and madras students.

However, a large number of students in remote areas of Khagrachhari district have been missing out on this opportunity due to the lack of television, electricity, and the internet.

According to the District Education Office, there are 706 primary and secondary schools in Khagrachhari, where around 2 lakh students are currently studying.

Educationists and teachers of the district said that for lack of access to television and the internet , some students will drop out and some will lag behind in their education when schools reopen.

Moni Boisnab, headmaster of Hamachang primary school, said every year many students routinely drop out from school at an alarming rate in remote areas. On top of that, this year schools have remained closed indefinitely, and students in remote areas have no access to digital education. He says:'The dropout rate will increase."

On a recent visit, this correspondent saw many children from primary to secondary level are whiling away their time playing with friends.

Shreya Chakma, an eighth grader of Munigram High School, and Anjuman Akhtar, a fifth grader of Panchhari Model Primary School said they have been missing classes due to the lack of television and internet.

Schools have remained closed and teachers even are not tutoring us in their homes due to the coronavirus. "As a result, we face problems when we try to read an English book or solve complex mathematical problems." they said.

Many children from primary to secondary level are whiling away their time playing with friends | Dhaka TribuneMeanwhile, poor guardians who dreamed of educating their children in order to bring their families out of poverty, are also disappointed.

Mongshu Marma, a vegetable seller in Khagrachhari Bazar, said his daughter who is in Class VI, has stopped reading and writing since the school closed due to Covid-19. "I can’t afford my child a television set.''

"We have to rearrange two academic years in the coming days to minimize academic losses. We need to turn 24 months into three academic years to cover the losses, said Binodon Tripura, coordinator of the NGO, Zabarang Kalyan Samity.

Educationist Mathura Bikash Tripura, a panel member of NCTB (National Curriculum and Textbook Board) said, not only in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, but also many students in coastal and char areas lack access to a digital education.

"If we want to recoup academic losses, we have to think about examination and evaluation systems after schools reopen."

Contacted, Khagrachhari District Education Officer Fatema Meher Yasmin said that upon the directives of higher authorities, upazila education officers are holding online classes on Facebook and Youtube for primary and high school students in the district.

Asked about students who have no access to television or the internet, the officer said she has nothing to do with that problem.

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