Rajuk is planning to establish these zones in Gulshan, Banani and Dhanmondi
Urban planning experts have expressed doubts regarding the feasibility of a plan to create education zones in residential areas—as they believe the initiative would only lead to traffic congestion in Dhaka.
Rajdhani Unnayan Kartipakkha (Rajuk) has recently adopted a plan to centralize the systems of all educational institutions. However, experts fear that it may create the opposite effect.
They say the education zones can be established outside of Dhaka where land is available. If the same plan is taken up for Dhaka – which is already overcrowded – it will not only create traffic chaos in residential areas, it will also increase hassles for parents.
Rajuk recently planned to build education zones in Dhaka’s residential areas, primarily in Gulshan, Banani, and Dhanmondi—said Rajuk officials.
Rajuk, the capital’s development authority, is revising the Detailed Area Plan (DAP), for the upcoming 15 years, to include dedicated education zones in residential areas.
However, urban planning experts pointed out that Dhaka has been developed in an unplanned way. Now, if all the schools or colleges are transferred to a fixed place, it will create traffic chaos and indiscipline in those areas.
They, however, are in favor of setting up such zones, particularly for colleges and universities, outside of Dhaka.
They also emphasized the need to have primary and secondary educational institutions inside the residential areas.
Buet’s Department of Urban and Regional Planning (DURP) Professor Dr Sarwar Jahan thinks that Dhaka's educational institutions, which are now inside residential areas, are scattered and create traffic chaos.
Also Read- Rajuk plans education zones in Dhaka
“These institutions do not have playgrounds or other facilities but the people will face trouble if we ban schools from residential areas as they will have to travel further to get an education,” said the professor of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet).
He also suggested that the government allow popular schools to open branches in different areas to help people access better educational facilities.
“There is no empty land in Dhaka's residential areas where such an accommodation can be made. Now, the question arises as to how the authorities will implement it.”
Member Secretary of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA) Architect Iqbal Habib said transportation and plans for residential areas need to be kept in mind before setting up education zones.
“The residential areas are already losing their character because of illegally-built commercial firms—but educational institutions, hospitals, and food corners are also essential in these areas,” he said.
The BAPA official added: “The main challenge to creating education zones in Dhaka is to find land. Making parking space available and providing separate transportation services for these zones will also be a challenge.”
Professor Nazrul Islam, chairman at Centre for Urban Studies (CUS), believes separate education zones are better for higher education as the universities are now being set up in a haphazard manner inside five to six-storey buildings in residential areas.
“The plan can be made for higher education and the zones can be established far away from Dhaka—where land is available. But, to make this plan effective, the government will also have to ensure transportation,” he added.
Citing examples, Professor Nazrul said: “Collegiate School, Muslim Government School, Islamia Government Muslim School, St Gregory’s School, St Francis Xavier’s School and Pogose School were some of the best schools in Old Dhaka and all of them are situated near Victoria Park and Bahadur Shah Park. This entire area is considered to be an education zone for the old dwellers of Old Dhaka.”
Rajuk increased its activities against the opening of commercial organizations, including hospital and schools, in Gulshan—after the July 1, 2016 attack at Holey Artisan Bakery. Twenty-two people, including two policemen, were killed in the attack in Dhaka’s diplomatic zone.
Since the attack, the Rajuk has conducted several drives against commercial organizations in residential areas. However, they have been lenient towards some schools and hospitals as these organizations provide essential services to the residents.
Now, schools will also be included in the new policy which is to be enacted for residential areas.
Rajuk Chairman Abdur Rahman told the Dhaka Tribune that they will sit with stakeholders, including experts and authorities concerned, before finalizing the draft of the education zone policy.
“Through surveys, we are already collecting data for education zones and we are also looking for available land,” he said—adding that the survey would end in December.
“We have already found some places suiting our demands, but no concrete decision has been made yet. Basically, Education institutes in Dhaka rarely have playgrounds or open spaces, so we are planning to develop the zones in different areas to help people access quality educations and proper facilities,” he added.