Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today said her government has been working for equal opportunity for every person irrespective of their creed, colour and caste and none would be neglected based on topographic feature of any area.
"No people in any region would remain neglected . . . development of each and every person is important for the real and balanced development of the country," she said while awarding scholarship among meritorious students of minor ethnic communities of the plain land at Prime Minister's Office (PMO) here today.
The premier said her government was opposed to the idea of creating any extra- privileged group, to ensure balanced and equitable development of the country.
The prime minister said Bangladesh is a land of multi-colour, languages and ethnicities. So development of every ethnic person is important to take the country forward.
She said her government took many measures so that people of the ethnic groups can practice their culture and language and have access to educational opportunities. The prime minister said cultural centres were established in ethnic group inhibited regions to promote their culture, impart education and extend opportunities to take elementary education in their mother languages.
Sheikh Hasina said out of 160 million people only 3.87 million are members of small ethnic groups. Half of them live in the Chittagong Hill Tracts and others reside in 55 districts across the country, she said adding the government gave utmost priority to education of every child.
A total of 350 students were given the onetime scholarship of Taka 25,000 for their studies.
Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid was also present on the occasion chaired by Principal Secretary Dr Kamal Abdul Naser Chowdhury. Director (admin) of the Prime Minister Office (PMO) gave welcome address.
Lima Toppo of Oraon community, a student of law department of Bangabandhu Science and Technology University, Goplagonj, spoke on the occasion on behalf of the scholarship recipients.
Raju Deshwara, a visually impaired student of BBA of Dhaka University who received the scholarship last year, also shared his feelings on getting the scholarship through a video presentation.
Sheikh Hasina said assuming power in 1996 the Awami League government had identified the national problems on priority basis. The conflict of two-decades in the CHT was resolved restoring peace which was a big step for development of the ethnic people.
She said special funds were allocated for development of the CHT and the government offered them all facilities for socioeconomic development to bring them into social mainstream.
Sheikh Hasina said education is one of the basic rights of people and the government gave utmost importance to education. She said free textbooks and stipends are being distributed among students from pre-primary to secondary levels.
Sheikh Hasina said the government distributed textbooks in five ethnic languages and took steps to distribute textbooks among ethnic children from Class-I in their own languages from next year.
The government is trying to encourage the children of small ethnic groups to start their education in their mother language.
Urging the scholarship recipients to avail the opportunities of the science and technology based education the prime minister hoped that their education would help them change their life as well transcend their culture.
Sixteen students received cheques of scholarship from the prime minister. Most of the students joined the programme attiring their traditional costume.