Schools in Dhaka
Recently, I went through the cover story of the November issue of PURPLE magazine. I came to know many surprising facts about our schools--private and public. Many amused me but most were frustrating.
Until then my experiences were related to my school-going children's daily plight of going to their school at Dhanmondi and coming back home. My job is to drop them at the school gate and my wife's to bring them back. Our daily struggle with the CNG and cab has never been sweet to recall. Piles of rubble or a running sewer pit or an open drain are parts of my memory. A gas burner with large frying pans with ''paratas' on them or hawkers vending summer delicacies at the school gate, the horn loving cars, rickshaws crammed at the gate and cars clustered all around the school were all a familiar sight. We always ask ourselves why there was no school bus, no safety concern, and no decency and why everyone keeps on increasing school fees; asking for tissue and toilet papers at the beginning of each year. But after reading an article in that magazine, many other things concerned me. Schools in Dhaka are not equipped with many vital services they ought to provide. Primary and secondary schools really suffer from lack of efficiency and long time planning. The issue revealed many facts about our schools. It is painful to know that only one in every five schools has transports facilities. The parents are left in total despair to find a cab or rickshaw while the more fortunate drive their cars thus occupying the road just to drop one child while thirty to fifty children could be carried by a single school bus. It is thus a complete shame that only one in every 42 students has access to school transport. Twenty percent schools operate with no libraries at all, while 54% of the libraries hold only 50 to 300 books.
Why do almost all students from kindergarten to graduation have to go to private teachers? Only 60% of the schools have playground facilities for junior classes only. Ninety-one percent schools manage their database manually. No schools have sick rooms within their premises while only 20 percent have contact with nearby clinics to accommodate emergencies. None of them teach their students basic life saving techniques and only 6% schools have trained personnel to handle physical emergencies. What surprised me the most was that only 24 out of 68 schools were even willing to answer questions asked by the magazine, considering them to be Gestapo!
A lot of thanks go to Purple magazine and its reporters who laboriously worked and revealed many facts, which would otherwise have been unknown to us.
We sent our children to schools and they came back home without complaints except on one occasion when my son came back with blisters and rashes. I finally decided to survey his classroom and found that it is a mere concrete room with a tin-roof with no insulation underneath. This is apparently a very common occurrence in the junior classes.
Mr. M Seraj, Engineer and agro entrepreneur