Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said educational institutions will not reopen before the pandemic is contained.
Inaugurating the distribution of free textbooks for all school students, she also asked everyone to strictly adhere to the health guidelines when they hand out the textbooks.
Instead of celebrating the Textbook Festival on January 1 like the previous years, the government decided to distribute the books among students in phases so that the schools do not get crowded.
National Curriculum and Textbook Board Chairman Professor Narayan Chandra Saha told The Daily Star that the distribution of textbooks would start today.
However, about 30 to 40 percent of the 24.1 crore copies of secondary school textbooks has yet to reach a number of upazilas as of yesterday, NCTB officials said.
Education Minister Dipu Moni on Tuesday said the books had not reached certain places because of a paper crisis caused by the coronavirus restrictions.
Government is expected to hand out textbooks among 4,16,55,336 primary and secondary students.
"If the situation improves by this time [January 15], we will reopen the educational institutions," Sheikh Hasina said as she inaugurated the textbook distribution from the Gono Bhaban.
"No one knows when the world will be free from the coronavirus," she added.
The Education Ministry and the Primary and Mass Education Ministry organised the programme at Bangabandhu International Conference Center in the capital in the presence of about 300 primary and secondary students.
Educational institutions have been closed since March 17.
The PM said the situation was unfortunate, but the decision was made to keep the children and parents safe.
TV and online education can keep the students in touch with their lessons. "These will continue…" she added.
Students suffered the most due to the pandemic as the closure put mental pressure on them.
She urged parents to spend more time with their children and make sure they take part in physical activities.
Hasina said education is the most important thing for developing a country. "We want to free the country from poverty. It is impossible to make a country poverty-free without education."
She said for that reason the government has given special attention to education, and since 2010, the government is providing free textbooks among students.
She congratulated everyone engaged in the textbook printing and distributing process amid the pandemic.
The NCTB chairman told The Daily Star that 100 percent of the primary text books have already been printed.
But about 80 percent of the secondary textbooks have so far been printed.
"The work of printing textbooks and reaching it to the upazila levels is progressing fast," he said.