Govt mobilises funds to rebuild damaged schools
The government yesterday mobilised funds to rebuild the damaged primary and high schools in the Sidr-ravaged coastal regions and resume classes there.
Education Secretary Mamtazul Islam during a briefing on post-Sidr rescue said the government has allocated Tk 2 lakh for rebuilding every fully damaged high school, and Tk 20,000 to repair every partially damaged high school in the cyclone affected areas.
In addition to this, every fully damaged high school will receive Tk 50,000 to purchase furniture.
Meanwhile, Primary and Mass Education Secretary Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan told the Daily Star yesterday that the government has already distributed Tk 45 crore among the upazila nirbahi officers (UNOs) for repair of the partially damaged primary schools in the coastal region.
Education Secretary Mamtazul Islam in the briefing said funds for 2,546 partly damaged high schools were released yesterday so that students in the coastal districts can resume classes and examinations in two weeks time.
He told reporters that building of six rooms with tin roofs would be built in place of schools that have been totally damaged in the cyclone. If the six rooms fail to accommodate all the students, classes will be held in two shifts, he said.
Cyclone Sidr has left 13.27 lakh primary and secondary students of 12 southern districts in total ruins. The damage has also left many schools bereft of teaching materials including books.
According to reports from Sidr-affected areas, many students are trying to work as day labourers and the like to arrange money to buy books and pay their SSC exam fees.
The government yesterday also declared that said it would give each student a set of schoolbooks. Each UNO will receive Tk 2 lakh to buy books for the cyclone-affected students, the secretary said, assuring availability of more funds for this if required.
“In places where damage has been extreme, SSC (secondary school certificate) examinees will not have to pay board fees for the exam, the government will pay the board,” Mamtazul said during the briefing held at food and disaster management ministry.
The government has meanwhile issued an order for extra classes to be held for 2008 SSC examinees.
Asked whether the government would postpone or defer the SSC examination considering the situation following the cyclone, Mamtazul Islam said, “”We haven't taken any such decision as yet.”
New buildings will be built later which can also be used as cyclone shelters, he added.
The government has also decided to reallocate funds for the maintenance of government primary schools, towards repairing damaged ones in the coastal regions. Out of 4,500 damaged primary schools in the coastal regions, about 800 have had more extensive damages. The education ministry is preparing a project proposal for reconstruction of those ones.
Primary and Mass Education Secretary Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan told the Daily Star that out of the 4500 damaged primary schools in the costal area, 800 schools have suffered more extensive damage.
He said that government is considering developing a project proposal for reconstruction of these schools. Regarding the distribution of the TK 45 crore for repair works, he mentioned that no school would receive more than Tk 2 lakh each for repair works.
The secretary also said that students of primary schools would also receive new books from buffer stock.
“A large number of books are left over after distribution of free books at the beginning of the year,” he said, adding that this would now be made use of by distribution in Sidr affected regions.
Food and Disaster Management Secretary Ayub Mia told the briefing that the government will soon distribute Tk 10 crore among Sidr victims in four districts from the Disaster Risk Reduction Fund.
“Each family will get between Tk 5,000 to Tk 20,000," he said. Twenty per cent of this amount will be considered as a grant and each family will have to pay four per cent interest on the remaining amount, he added.
“The amount is returnable in two years and the proceeds will then be put into a similar revolving public fund, to be distributed among people again,” the food secretary said.
Secretary Ayub Mia also said Tk 1 crore has been allocated distribution of for baby food. Also in a fresh allocation for housing, Tk 30 crore was allocated yesterday from the Chief Adviser's Fund in addition to previous Tk 50 crore.
Primary, junior scholarship exams rescheduled
The primary and mass education secretary told the briefing that the government has deferred the primary scholarship examinations scheduled for December 17-18 to January 14-15.
The junior scholarship examinations have also been deferred to January instead from December. The exams will now begin on January 8, an education ministry official told The Daily Star.