The four schools established by local initiatives 20 years ago went completely unnoticed by the authorities, as the schools had never been enlisted under the government's Monthly Pay Order (MPO) system
More than 800 students of four primary schools in the hilly areas of Lama upazila in Bandarban are being deprived of quality education, due to lack of support from the authorities concerned in the Ministry of Education.
The four schools established by local initiatives 20 years ago went completely unnoticed by the authorities, as the schools had never been enlisted under the government's Monthly Pay Order (MPO) system.
In this regard, students, teachers, guardians, and locals of the upazila want to draw the attention of Bir Bahadur Ushwe Sing, Bandarban MP and minister for Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs for taking the necessary steps.
Teachers, students, and few employees are conducting school activities without any financial assistance from the government. Teachers don’t receive salaries, and meritorious students get no scholarships.
This being the present situation, frustrated teachers are trying to switch jobs, and if they do so, it will cause an abrupt halt for these students from getting a proper education.
How the four schools started
Locals, determined to ensure education to the children of the rural villages of Lama, formed these four private schools at their own cost, and initiative around 20 years ago.
Nunarjhiri Non-Government Primary School was established at Lama Municipality in 2001, Mirinja Non-Government Primary School at Lama Sadar Union in 2000, Dhuilyapara Non-Government Primary School at Sarai Union in 1998, and Community Non-Government Primary School at Fashiakhali Union in 2011.
Road full of thorns
With no help from the government, 16 teachers have been voluntarily teaching hundreds of students for the last 20 years.
Frustrated teachers said, the poor students only receive government allotted free books, but are deprived of any scholarships, midday meals, and other facilities. So it is difficult for the guardians living below the poverty level to let their children continue with schooling.
With an increasing number of dropping out students, and less eager teachers, the overall standard of education has fallen drastically.
A fourth-grade student of Mirinja Non-Government School, Menai Murung expressed his frustration over the matter and said: "Our livelihood depends on the yearly Jhum harvest. So it is already a big deal for us to allocate our time for education."
"So when students of other schools get scholarships but we don't, it becomes more frustrating, and impossible to continue our studies."
Headmaster of Dhuilyapara Non-Government Primary School Md Jashim Uddin said: “Our finances are limited, and it is not possible to run the schools for a long-term without any governmental or non-governmental support.”
He also pointed out that with the decreasing number of teachers, and without scholarships, many students were dropping out of the schools as well.
Putting foot in the right direction
Expressing the urgency of bringing these schools under the MPO program, Lama Upazila Education Officer Tapan Kumar Chowdhury said: "The Primary Education Completion (PEC) results of these schools are satisfactory through the unconditional efforts of the teachers. We would be making a proposition to the authority soon."
Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Nur-E-Jannat Rumi said: "These four primary schools are the only hopes of education for the students of Lama Upazila. To ensure education to the students of these schools, they should come under government facilities as soon as possible."