Jakir Hossan :
Think about a sapling which has just planted. It requires deep care. Spreading water, checking soil moistures, removing harming weeds and keeping concerned eye so that no animal can harm to grow. Such carefulness results the strong foundation of this small plant to be a big one next. These early cares are undeniable if someone want to have better outcome otherwise it will be destroyed soon after the plantation.
Children in our society is like a sapling. Like a sapling, a child also requires deep care. Child education is a part of whole care that they required. It is the core which builds the foundation of future leader, entrepreneur or a good man indeed. That's why child education is also a matter of importance which cannot be denied.
Child education is not focused in usually developing countries. And one of them is Bangladesh. From the very early of the life, children are used to experience the traditional approach of learning which has no strong capability to offer them holistic development which includes intellectual, social, emotional, and moral and physical education. This is resulting poor performance in the next few steps of education as they are not properly managed to learn previously and thus country face the burden of unskilled manpower.
According to UNICEF, currently 40% of Bangladeshi's population is children and statistics indicates that 600,000 out of school. Primary education in Bangladesh is free for all children which includes the grades class 1 to class 5. In laws it is also emphasized by making it compulsory for children ages six to ten must attend school. However quality education still remains a goal yet to achieve.
From Tech for Bangladesh; a US funded organization working for child education in Bangladesh-The government of Bangladesh currently spends 2% of its total GDP on total education which is the second lowest level of spending in South Asia and lowers than most countries at similar level of development.
Now we can realize what a tiny portion is spending on child education! On the other hand teachers that are employed to teach the children enrolling these classes are the lowest qualities. Statistics shows that, more than 40% of government primary school teachers have no university degree at all and only secondary or higher-secondary graduates are working there.
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This is not the end, if we observe the student to teacher ratio it is also horrible. In government primary school the average student to teacher ratio is 1:50 and in each class room number of children are getting lesson is on an average 150 and this is basically in rural areas.
The above discussed facts and figures are all about children who are able to access education naturally. Moreover access to education remains a big challenges for some vulnerable groups which includes working children, physically-challenged children, indigenous groups and children from the remote areas suffering extreme poverty and unfavorable geographical conditions. Among them those who are living in slums in big cities including Dhaka, nearly half of them can access education just because of the effort of various non-government and voluntary organizations.
The major factors that are acting as the barrier for holistic child development identified are extreme poverty, lack of awareness basically in regards of female education, lack of specialized educational facility for vulnerable groups, lack of skilled and proper educated instructors and lastly lack of standard curriculum for child education.
According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), the current rate of extreme poverty in Bangladesh is12.9%. The members of these families are highly disconnected from the awareness of having education and surprisingly they are unwilling to send children to schools as they think education is expensive. Typically female education still under superstition although the rate of women participation in all types of professions is increasing. Most of the families in Bangladesh think that, female should not be provided with higher education and females are considered to work for family only.
Vulnerable groups including physically-challenged, children from remote and unfavorable geographical locations, drop-out and working children and indigenous groups are lack of special educational care. Likewise physically-challenged children are considered as burden for family and they see no hope get education, working children suffering from extreme poverty and for this why sales physical labor denying going to schools and indigenous children are also suffering from racism and nationalism.
Although some non-government and voluntary organization showing the light of hope. Revolutionary initiatives like Boat Schools for Rural Children, BRAC Urban Slums School, Children's Learning Centers, Education for Out of School Children in Bangladesh and Teach for Bangladesh impacting a lot to move forward the child education of Bangladesh.
Organizations like BRAC (Building Resources Across Communities) together with EAC (Educate a Child) are working at remote areas using boat school those are disaster prone, located at challenging geographical locations, unfavorable infrastructure and negative consequences of extreme weather.
In addition to that BRAC Urban Slums School initiative taken by BRAC with financial cooperation of EAC has established 2,000 single classroom schools in the urban slums which is covering 62,000 students under child education in Bangladesh. In the same way Children's learning centers, EAC and Dhaka Ahsania Mission (DAM) through the use of non-formal primary education has reached more than 40,000 children of numerous district. Beside all these effort, The Reaching Out-of-School (ROSC) aiming to reduce the number of drop-out children through ensuring access, quality and efficiency in primary education and providing disadvantaged children an opportunity to complete class 5 at least.
To speak the truth, all these efforts are still less comparing to the numbers of student currently out of child education. More and more governmental efforts need to come out. Government should take special care for those who are not out of school due to poverty, being in vulnerable areas and those are out of access to education.
Above all giving access to scholarship for those under extreme poverty, establishing more boat and temporary schools in disaster prone areas, providing school materials free up to secondary level, funding and cooperating with non-government and voluntary organizations working in slums, creating accessible educational institutions for physically-challenged children and motivating communities can reduce the current rate of drop out children from the early life of education.
(Jakir Hossan is a student (3rd Year) of University of Dhaka)