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9 January, 2021 05:19:13 PM

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Consider to reopen the educational institutions

When the first wave of the pandemic hit the country in March this year, one of the first acts of the government was to shut schools to protect the children
Anwar Faruq Talukder
Consider to reopen the educational institutions

The COVID-19 pandemic has, according to the United Nations, created the biggest disruption of education systems in history, affecting nearly 1.6 billion students in more than 190 countries in all continents. The closure of schools and other learning spaces have impacted 94 per cent of the world’s student population, up to 99 per cent in low and lower-middle-income countries

Research carried out by the World Health Organization has shown that children and adolescents can be infected and can infect others.

It has also shown the virus can kill children. But children tend to have a milder infection and there are very few severe cases and deaths from COVID-19 among children and adolescents. The data has revealed that less than 10% of reported cases and less than 0.2% of deaths are in people under the age of 20. 

However, although children have largely been spared many of the most severe health effects of the virus, schools have been closed and led to a disruption of essential services such as nutrition and immunization programme which were carried out via the schooling system. Even worse is the fact that millions of children have missed out on months of schooling. COVID-19 has disrupted education systems around the world, pushing the majority of children temporarily out of school. With close to 40 million children enrolled in school, Bangladesh is among the countries most affected by a complete shutdown. When the first wave of the pandemic hit the country in March this year, one of the first acts of the government was to shut schools to protect the children. 

In an effort to ensure that student education would not be badly disrupted, the government also launched a number of innovative initiatives to minimize the disruption caused by the closure of schools through distant-learning programme carried out via audio and video communication systems. Unfortunately, all students in our country do not have equal opportunities in the field of education. This means that levels of learning, literacy and achievement can be very low in areas of acute poverty. Meanwhile child marriage is growing due to coronavirus.

Many schools have been conducting online classes via Zoom and Google Meet and WhatsApp applications. But the situation remains grim in many less-affluent schools, where parents, many of whom are daily wage earners/low income group cannot afford smart phones needed to download these Apps today they have lost their wage-earning capacity/jobs.  

However, amongst the lowest socio-economic groups, the number of households with access to internet connectivity dropped significantly.  For the children in rural communities, access to e-learning during the COVID-19 school closures has simply not been viable. Now, once again with the second wave of the virus hitting Bangladesh in November, all schools have been closed till January 16, 2021.

The WHO itself insists schools should only close as a last resort (www.who.int). Yet, our country seems to be taking the easy way out and closing down schools as a first step to halting the march of the virus. The all other activities remain as usual. It is here mentionable that the affected rate of the children and youth is low, even affected it not go to so serious. Therefore, authorities may rethink to open the educational institutions as early as possible.      

The writer is a banker & economic analyst. E-mail: [email protected]

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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