Summer vacation drags on over safety concern | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 04, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:20 AM, August 04, 2016

English-Medium Schools

Summer vacation drags on over safety concern

Rimon has not concentrated much on his studies lately. The third grader at an English-medium school in Dhanmondi spends most of his time playing mobile games and watching television. He has got plenty of free time as his school is yet to reopen even after a long summer, Ramadan and Eid holiday.

“No matter how hard I try, I can't make him focus on his studies,” said his worried mother, Rubaiya Islam.

Rimon's school was closed after the session examinations in mid-June. The classes were supposed to resume on July 28 but the school authorities have extended the holiday instead until further notice.

"Children usually don't want to study if their school is closed... The school should reopen quickly as our children's studies are being hampered,” added the mother.

Like her, many other guardians are anxious about their children's studies as several reputed English-medium schools in the capital are delaying their reopening in the wake of last month's Gulshan and Sholakia terror attacks.

The back-to-back attacks have apparently raised deep concerns among the guardians and the school authorities, particularly those of English medium and missionary schools.

Besides, they found themselves in an uncomfortable situation after the government high-ups warned about further militant attacks. Some schools reportedly received threats as well.

Contacted, the authorities of some of the schools said they have temporarily kept their classes shut for increasing security on the campus. The schools also keep the parents updated about the likely date of their reopening through text messages and emails.

"A number of schools, which have foreign teachers, are assessing their security systems following the terror attacks, and that is one of the reasons behind the delay in reopening," GM Nizam Uddin, secretary general of Bangladesh English Medium School Association, told The Daily Star yesterday.

He said some schools are observing the situation while vacation in a few others is yet to end.

They are likely to resume classes in the first week of this month.

Several schools have already increased their security systems. Again, some are installing additional CCTV cameras, increasing the number of guards, using metal detectors and other security equipment on the campus, said Nizam, who is also the managing director of Cardiff International School Dhaka.

Vacations in Scholastica, one of the premier English-medium schools in the city, began in mid-June. It was scheduled to reopen on July 24 but it did not.

In emails sent to guardians on Tuesday, the school authorities said they were expecting to hold a Parent Orientation Program on the campus on August 16-20 and resume classes after that.

The email talked about the security measures taken by the school, a guardian told this correspondent.

Contacted, Zia Hashan, coordinator, communication, Scholastica Limited, said they have tightened security measures on the campus and hope to resume classes in mid-August.

Over 6,000 students study at five branches of the school in Uttara, Mirpur, Dhanmondi and Gulshan areas, he said.

Sunnydale School in the city's Dhanmondi area was supposed to resume classes on July 31, but the school authorities on July 28 sent text messages to the guardians, saying as per parents' request, the school would remain closed until further notice.

However, the school had an orientation programme of senior section students on July 28, said guardians.

The school is giving homework to its students through emails, said Sumina, mother of a standard-VIII student at the school.

Contacted, Yasmeen Habib, vice principal of the school, said they had reopened the school on July 28. Parents came and saw the security measure on the campus on that day.

"Although the parents were happy, they wanted the school authorities to have more security and we are working on it," she said, adding that they expected to resume classes on August 7.

Sunbeams School reopened and held an orientation programme for students on July 16. However, it was closed again.

Later, the school authorities informed guardians through emails that the classes would begin from July 24 but that did not happen as well, said Ali Reza, father of a student of a junior section at the Dhanmondi branch.

The school authorities then sent another email to the guardians, saying they could not bring children back to classes until they ensure proper security, he said.

Mastermind School was supposed to reopen on July 24 but has changed the date twice, said guardians.

"We don't know when the school will reopen. We're a bit concerned," said Sajia, mother of grade-2 student at its Dhanmondi branch.

However, an official of the school, wishing not to be named, said classes are likely to resume on August 7.

Frustrated with the delay in reopening SFX Greenherald International School, another English-medium school, a guardian in a Facebook post said: "Really upsetting! My children's school is closed for an indefinite period following the recent spate of Islamist militant attacks. Where the country is heading to?"

Sources said the school might reopen on August 16.

Talking to this correspondent, several guardians said closing down schools' activity for security reasons is not a solution to the current crisis.

"Security can also be beefed up keeping the schools open. Otherwise, it will be difficult for the students to complete the syllabus later,” said a mother of a fifth grader.

"Also, there will be a huge pressure on the students once the schools open," she added.

Education ministry data show, there are some 160 English-medium schools in the capital and they have over 65,000 students.

However, the real number of the schools and the students would be much higher, according to officials concerned.

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