Knowledge for Progress

Why Support Island Chars Schooling

Advancement of education sector in Bangladesh is praiseworthy, particularly the developments of pre-primary and primary is notable. Currently, in the country, there are 85,000 government and non-government registered primary schools (D.S Aug 17, 2012), 40,000 BRAC schools, and 20,000 kindergartens (D. P. E 2008) are found. Besides, there are a good number of schools run by different government bodies and NGOs. Around 80% children are served pre-primary and primary education by the institutions and most of the children live in different cities and structurally a bit developed rural areas. The remaining 20% deprived of education live in the chars/ island chars, haoar, coastal areas and in the remote hilly areas which are environmentally, ecologically and socioeconomically lagging behind than the urban parts.

A study in the 51 north island chars has found that 56% children of the areas do not attend school as there is no school(s). Financial inability is another cause for giving up school. Around 85% of the households cannot bear the educational expenses of the children and majority of the char dwellers do not have the solvency to continue their children’s educational costs. However, some of the parents send their children to school for a better future. The study reveals that 100% households in Nilphamari district, 85% in Lalmonirhat district and 70% households in Pabna district living in island chars do not possess the solvency to meet the educational expenses of their children. The scenario is shocking who are continuing their studies. On average, they spend only Tk 56 monthly for primary and secondary education which is only 1.5% of the total income of the char dwellers. Unfortunately, they cannot spend the meager amount for their education as their whole earnings is spent to get foods.

On the other hand, those who are not attending school, the study has found that 49% of them are drop out and 51% of them never went school at all. Among the girls, 41% are drop out and 59% never attended school. Insolvency is the key fact behind their dropping out, they allege. Besides, among the boys, most of them had to get engaged with wage earning activities. Regarding the girls, the cause is different as parents feel insecurity for them when they get matured. Miles of walking needed to reach the nearest school in the char. So, the parents stop their education in the mid way, and early marriage is another considerable issue that causes the drop out.

The scenario of the Northern chars that we discovered in different times in different ways and direct conversation with them is highly vicious. The scenarios are the same in the other char areas of the country. To provide educational service to the char people, we need cordial assistances from both private and public level.

Although Bangladesh has gained notable success in the past one and half decades regarding poverty reduction particularly education and health, some of the parts of the country still remained ignored and around six million people dwell on the island chars of Bangladesh. Among the 51 chars of the Northern part, around 77% households are hardcore poor. Natural calamities like floods, droughts, river erosion etc. are their constant companions. Lots of people become destitute, lose their belongings forever. Even they cannot manage a full plate meal for the household members after the day-long hard work. The char living deprived people are highly familiar with the inhumane faces of poverty. Most of them live on agriculture and river but they do not have any specialized or planned knowledge over their profession. Thereby, they remain unemployed for eight to nine months of a year. Males of the char population migrate to places as seasonal labours and even the children are also engaged into the wage earning. Almost all of the young children are working hard for meeting the basic needs of their families, but they do not know that they do have the right to access education like the other children.

The island char populations of Bangladesh live their lives under such deprivations and calamities. They are the subject to turn victim of natural calamities and post-calamity consequences. Even the char dwellers are out of the radius of different supports by the public-private bodies. Education is a must for the thousands of the char living children to utilize their potentials. Only education can flourish the potentials of the char dwelling children and thus, pre-primary schools are needed to assist them in thriving.

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