Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Sunday stressed changing the fate of marginal people for the country’s overall socio-economic development.
“If we want to make our country economically self-reliant one, then it’s very much important to develop the socio-economic status of its people, including the marginal ones,” she said.
The Prime Minister was addressing a function marking the distribution of stipends among students of Small Ethnic Groups under ‘Development Assistance for Special Areas’ programmes at her office in the capital.
She said the more the development of the marginal people will be ensured the quicker the country will get rid of poverty. “And the future generation will grow up as educated one.”
Sheikh Hasina said it is not possible to develop the country by ignoring anyone. “We’ll have to look after those who’re passing their days in negligence and living a marginalised life,” she said.
The Prime Minister asked the authorities concerned to find out the way for developing the fate of these sections of people and thus ensure their better social standing.
Held with PM's Principal Secretary Abul Kalam Azad in the chair, the function was addressed, among others, by PMO DG Kabir Bin Anwar.
Ministers, PM’s Advisers and high officials concerned were present on the occasion.
The Prime Minister's Office took the project in 1996 aiming to enhance social, cultural, economic and educational development of the small ethnic communities living in plain land of the country.
Some Tk 70 lakh are being distributed this year among 350 poor but meritorious students from minor ethnic communities as stipends under the project.
Of them, 20 students received stipends directly from the Prime Minister today with each getting Tk 25,000.
The Prime Minister regretted that the project undertaken by her government in 1996 term was shelved by the then BNP-Jamaat alliance government during its 2001-2006 rule.
Returning to power in 2009, the project was reintroduced by her government as part of an initiative to develop an educated society and bring those lagging behind in the mainstream.
In this regard, the Prime Minister said the activities will continue and the amount of the stipend and number of students will be increased in the future.
Sheikh Hasina said her government has attached the highest importance to education to build a modern and science-based educated nation as well as establish a poverty and illiteracy free, prosperous country in South Asia.
Steps have been taken for the development of all groups irrespective of religious faiths, cast and creeds, including small ethnic communities, to ensure the balanced development of the country, she said.
Hasina said her government framed Small Ethnic Community Cultural Institutes Act, 2010 aimed at preservation, development and flourishing cultural tradition of various small ethnic communities of the country.
Referring to the historic Chittagong Hill Tracts Treaty signed in 1997, Sheikh Hasina said it has ensured permanent peace and sustainable development of the small ethnic groups living in the CHT region.
About 80 to 90 percent of the clauses mentioned in the CHT accord have already been implemented by the government, she said adding that the process is on to implement rest of the clauses.
In this connection, Hasina mentioned that the formation of Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs Ministry and Chittagong Hill Tracts Regional Council.
Sheikh Hasina said various development programmes are being implemented in education, health, power, communications and infrastructure sectors under the Ministry and the regional council.
The Prime Minister said the people of the entire hill tracts are now partners of development and progress of the country.
Narrating various measures implemented for the development of education sector, the Prime Minister said the government is distributing free textbooks, providing stipends to poor meritorious students up to secondary level.
Besides, the government has also been providing assistance to poor talented students for their higher education from the Prime Minister's Education Assistance Trust Fund.
The Prime Minister said Bangladesh is marching and will further go ahead and there will be no place in Bangladesh for terrorism and militancy.