Brac Executive Director Asif Saleh recently gave a few reasons as to why educational institutions should reopen from October
Educational institutions in Bangladesh have been closed since mid-March to contain Covid-19 transmission.
Globally, many countries have already started reopening their educational institutions in line with different strategies, as many argue that keeping them closed was doing more harm than good.
Different studies conducted around the world suggest that children and teenagers are less likely than adults to develop severe Covid-19 symptoms and die from the disease.
In Bangladesh, too, the least hit by the novel coronavirus are people under 20 years of age, according to an age-wise analysis of official data.
People under 20 account for less than 2% of Covid-19 deaths, says the data compiled by the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
Children are at extremely low risk. Only 0.46% of the deaths occurred for people under 10, and the death rate is 0.80% for children aged 11-20, the age wise analysis shows.
But if the schools are to reopen, experts say there will have to be proper health guidelines in place to avoid Covid-19 contraction and they will have to be implemented without compromise.
In this situation, Brac Executive Director Asif Saleh in a post on Facebook recently gave a few specific reasons on why educational institutions, particularly schools, should reopen in the country from October.
A rough translation of his post is given below:
1. Online education has not been a success across the country with the exception of a few schools in the cities. As a result, the risk of seeing more dropouts has seriously increased among many students who go to schools outside cities.
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2. Number of child marriages in villages across the country is on the rise again.
3. Frustration, crime and drug addiction are increasingly gripping young people in urban areas.
4. The loss from six months of closure is not limited to the absence of new lessons only. The learning loss is more than that. Students risk forgetting a large part of the lessons they received before the last six months, when the institutions were open.
5. Despite the auto promotion, the reality is that it is a year of loss for our children. This year's loss in lessons and knowledge has to be restored in the near future. Otherwise, inequality in education will deepen again.
6. A part of our economy revolves around education. Many financially constrained students manage their educational expenses by providing private tutoring. They have lost their income now. On the other hand, their own institutions remain closed, depriving them of education, leaving them facing the risk of perpetual unemployment. Owners have sold many private schools, leaving their teaching staff in destitution.
Also Read - Dhaka schools: To open or not to open?
7. Almost all prohibitions and restrictions imposed by the government to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic have been lifted by now. Even the cinema halls are scheduled to reopen from October 16. In this situation, it is urgent that schools should start reopening gradually, making sure that proper hygiene measures are maintained. Rural schools should be reopened first and the rest should gradually follow.
The loss can be managed to some extent if the current academic year of 2020 ends in March next year. As safety measures, masks can be distributed to students for free, and rotation can be introduced for attendance. But further delay in reopening educational institutions may lead to severe social disorder. We all should give serious thought to this issue.