Experts suggest emulating area-based education models being adopted in advanced countries
Working parents in Dhaka city typically start their day in a rush of activity enough to send anyone's blood pressure soaring. Probably the most time-consuming component of all is also the most essential - that is to drop their children at schools, after which it is a battle to get to their own offices on time amid perpetual gridlock on the way.
This everyday picture of struggle would have been different if children could be admitted to schools that serve specific geographically limited areas allowing them to be located at walking distance from students' homes in the city.
Experts emphasized "area-based education" in cities and urged the government to increase the budgetary allocation in this regard. They recommended the system in Dhaka and other metropolitan cities to ease traffic jam and ensure children's security, reports UNB.
One of the challenges in implementing an area-based education system would be to ensure that irrespective of where they may be located, a certain standard needs to be maintained throughout.
Tania Akter, a resident of Old Dhaka, said: "I was forced to resign from my job only to drop my two daughters at school."
She said: "My daughters go to Ideal School and College Motijheel in Dhaka. I have to take them to school from Old Dhaka regularly. I worked for a private company but had to resign as I could not manage time to drop them at the school and attend office in time."
Tania said: "If the government takes initiatives to launch area-based education that would be a great help for us."
Mohammad Abu Awal Hossain from Keraniganj said he drops his sixth grader daughter Asma at Azimpur Govt Girls School and College every day.
"I got my daughter admitted to this school due to the absence of any better school in Keraniganj area. We face enormous problems on the way to school and back home daily. I would appreciate the authorities if they introduce area-based school in the city."
Professor Emeritus of Dhaka University Dr Serajul Islam Choudhury said: "We must not tag schools as good or bad. That differentiation affects the whole education. All the schools of villages and cities should be developed equally and be of the same standard."
He said an area-based education system will be great if it can be implemented. "We have been creating inequality in education in many ways. We must bring equality among all people through education.
"Examination is the other name of 'panic' now. Coaching centres and private schools are doing business with this. I think there should be no examination at the primary level. The elementary or primary students will only read and play."
Prof Serajul furthered: "There is no need of pre-primary system. Now children are admitted to schools through lottery system. Where will the students get admitted who are not allowed in lottery system? Every child has the right to equal standard education."
Professor Syeda Tahmina Akhter, director at the Institute of Education and Research of Dhaka University, said: "Area-based education system should be implemented in the country soon. It is really tough for job holders to carry children to far away schools amid regular traffic in Dhaka.
Dhaka will get rid of traffic jam if the system is once set. Parents in the city will not have to worry if their children get admitted to the schools near their houses."
Prof Dr Mijanur Rahman, vice-chancellor of Jagannath University (JnU), said area-based education system is very essential for the country as everyone will get benefit from the system.
Jahangirnagar University (JU) vice chancellor (VC) said the administration should stress guardians to admit their children in nearby schools.
Sharing his experience of Finland, Denmark, and Norway, Dr Mijanur Rahman said: "They do not create any pressure on children."
He added: "There are many street children who do not go to schools. The government should bring those floating children to schools."
He suggested the authorities to ensure equality education in the schools of Dhaka so that nobody can differentiate the schools of Keraniganj, Badda, old Dhaka, Jatrabari, Gulsahan, Banani, Dhanmondi or Gulshan areas with one another.
Standing Committee member of Primary and Mass Education Ministry Shirin Akhter, MP, said the area-based education system would be a better choice for the country.
"If the system can be introduced, traffic jam will get reduced, time will be saved, children safety will be ensured, and above all the guardians will be free from anxiety over their children," she said.