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Dropout prevention is a major challenge now

Published : Sunday, 19 September, 2021 at 12:00 AM  Count : 676
Anik Ahmed

Dropout prevention is a major challenge now

Dropout prevention is a major challenge now

I noticed an auto rickshaw driver speaking English fluently a few days ago. I asked him how he learned English. He replied that he was an English teacher at a non-MPO school. Because the school was closed during the Corona period, his income dried up. As a result, he has been driving an auto-rickshaw for a while.

This is only one example of the education sector's plight in the face of coronavirus. So, we congratulate the decision to open educational institutions. The government has made a decision regarding the SSC examination in November and the HSC examination in December as well.

There is concern that even if the educational institution's bell rings after nearly a year and a half, many students will be unable to hear it. Many students are already involved in various activities due to their inability to combat poverty in Covid-19. Many young girls have been compelled to child marriage. The government is now facing a significant challenge in preventing students from dropping out.

Prior to the Corona situation, the country's poverty rate was 20.5 per cent, according to a survey published in January by the South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (SANEM). During the Corona period, however, this rate has risen to 42 per cent.

The greatest increase has been in extreme poverty. It has now more than tripled to 26.5 per cent. 57 per cent of families claim that their income has decreased during the Corona period. They have dealt with the crisis by borrowing, depleting savings, and cutting food costs. Poor families do not care about their children's education anymore because they are running their families on credit. Many children from poor families have been involved in child labour and may not be able to return to school.

According to a survey conducted by the Manusher Jonno Foundation, 13,006 child marriages occurred in 84 upazilas of 21 districts of Bangladesh between April and October of last year. 50.6 per cent of child marriage victims are married between the ages of 17 and 18. 48.7 per cent are married between the ages of 13 and 15. And 1.6 per cent got married between the ages of 10 and 12.

According to a UNICEF report published in October last year, Bangladesh ranks eighth among the top ten countries in the world in terms of child marriage, and ranked first in South Asia. Bangladesh had made significant progress in reducing child marriage prior to Covid-19. During the Corona era, however, this success came to an end. Most students who have been victims of child marriage are unlikely to return to school.

Teachers and students in kindergarten and non-MPO schools have faced the worst situation during Covid-19 pandemic. Most schools have had no contact with students over the last year and a half. Many students from these schools have been involved in various works, and many have been transferred. As a result, many teachers and students at these schools will not return to class. While the announcement of the opening of educational institutions is not by chance, it remains to be seen how prepared the educational institutions are for class activities.

For a long time, there has been discussion about ensuring vaccination of students in the case of opening public universities. Unfortunately, progress has not been satisfactory. However, in light of the situation, it is important for the universities to decide to open on the same date without waiting for the vaccine. Private universities maintained their normal online education and examinations during the Corona period. They were not harmed as a result. Meanwhile, students at public universities have fallen behind because the exams have not been administered. The government must also take action as soon as possible to ensure vaccination for Students, teachers, and staffs who have not yet been immunized.

Even though the syllabus has been shortened this time, the class final examination is required. The way all the students were given 'Autopass' in the last academic year, it is better not to repeat it this time. A campaign is needed to bring all the children back after the school opens. Student-parents must restore both awareness and confidence. In addition, the government must provide an incentive. It could be a mid-day snack or a hot lunch. In other words, the government must take major steps to ensure that students do not drop out in any way.

Private initiatives may emerge in the local areas to ensure that children from troubled families have access to the necessary learning materials, masks, and other materials to return to newly started classes. Teachers must take an active role in bringing students back to school if they do not arrive in the classroom within two to three weeks.

Fear of dropping out can be alleviated through combined efforts. However, if the rate of infection rises in a specific area following the opening of educational institutions, the decision to close should be based on the specific area as well. We all hope that schools will not close across the country in future.
The writer is pursuing LLB at Department of Law, Rajshahi University

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