A new survey by South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (SANEM) and ActionAid Bangladesh conducted on four selected districts found that digital devices required to participate in online education was absolutely unavailable for 70.35 percent of students in Kurigram.
This is followed by Satkhira with 60.24 percent, Barguna with 54.16 percent and Rajshahi with 43.87 percent.
The survey was jointly conducted by South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (SANEM) and ActionAid Bangladesh, after interviewing 1,541 people from four selected districts--Kurigram, Satkhira, Rajshahi, and Barguna.
The findings were shared today at a webinar, titled "Pandemic and the Youth in Bangladesh: Findings from Four Selected Districts", jointly organised by SANEM and ActionAid Bangladesh.
Since the start of the pandemic, online classes have been most frequent in Rajshahi (37.8 percent) and least frequent in Kurigram (16 percent).
Only 13.1 percent male students and 11.8 percent female students reported attending online classes frequently, while 49.9 percent male students and 56 percent female students reported that they had never attended any online class. Device unavailability, poor internet connection, high price data, lack of mental preparation, lack of technology, among others were the major reason for attending online classes.
Wages, businesses and economic fallout
The survey also found wage of 69.76 percent people of Barguna, Kurigram, Rajshahi and Satkhira was reduced in November last year due to Covid-19 pandemic. At least 81.76 percent of self-employed people also faced profit reduction compared to November 2019, the survey findings revealed.
Almost one-third of households also said their businesses had to be closed either permanently or temporarily since March 2020.
The economic lockdown, lack of demand, fall in prices, increased cost of production, Covid-19 related additional costs and so on contributed to these closures.
According to the survey, only 10 percent of people received benefits from the new programmes initiated to tackle Covid-19 induced shocks, and of them, 68.8 percent were new recipients.
Mental health services ignored in pandemic
Mental health services were also ignored in Covid-19, as 63.83 percent of respondents said mental health service was not available from the local healthcare service providers.
Overall 87.89 percent of 1270 women aged between 15-35 said they faced some forms of violence in the pandemic while the spike was highest in Barguna 97.34 percent).
40.88 percent of women in Kurigram said they faced violence in the past 12 months, while 55.06 percent said they faced both physical and sexual violence.
Only 4.96 percent of women took legal action after experiencing any type of violence, and the reasons were lack of awareness regarding where to complain, shame, fear of household members, financial constraints and much more.
In regard to youth civic engagement, the survey revealed that only 7.62 percent youth from the surveyed regions participated in local decision making.
Only 2.59 percent females participated in local decision making compared to 10.85 percent males.
Dr Mohammad Abu Eusuf, Professor, Department of Development Studies, University of Dhaka was also present at the webinar as a panellist and he expressed his concern about the unavailability of a special package designed for the education sector in Covid-19.
Dr Sanzida Akhter, associate professor and chairman, Department of Women and Gender Studies of DU said that it's high time to incorporate mental health and sexual and reproductive health services available at the local health center.
Farah Kabir, country director, ActionAid Bangladesh chaired the event.
Deeba Farah Haque, chief of party, Gender Responsive Education and Skills Programme in Chittagong Hill Tracts, BRAC, Dr Selim Raihan, professor, Department of Economics, University of Dhaka and executive director, SANEM, secretary, among others, spoke at the event, moderated by Dr Sayema Haque Bidisha, professor, Department of Economics, University of Dhaka and Research Director, SANEM.