The introduction of a class six at certain primary schools is facing stumbling blocks, as most of the schools do not have enough classrooms or logistical support for the move, said teachers and officials from the primary and mass education ministry.
Schoolteachers said two classes often have to be put together due to a scarcity of classrooms, and it would almost be impossible to spare a classroom solely for the students of class six.
The government introduced a class six to 491 government primary schools across the country in January 2013, as part of its free and compulsory primary education extension programme.
Primary schools usually stop at class five, but the National Education Policy 2010 recommended that compulsory primary education be extended to class eight. The move came into effect on January 8 this year.
A recent report obtained by the Dhaka Tribune from the directorate of primary education, documenting the progress of the scheme in 10 schools, showed that only 147 out of 476 class six students had received textbooks.
In East Alipur Romanath Sen Government Primary School in Patuakhali, none of the 44 students got textbooks. This school has only six classrooms, of which three are unsuitable for holding classes. The report also found that the school has only 92 benches, and that most students attend classes standing.
According to the report, out of the 10 schools, four could not spare a separate room for class six and students of seven schools did not receive any textbooks at all.
The directorate of primary education attributes the difficulties to the suddenness with which the move has been made, and lack of planning.
Educationists agree that the sudden and unplanned implementation is problemtic.
“Students admitted into the newly introduced class six will have a negative experience if they do not get classrooms and other sorts of support,” said Dhaka University Institute of Education Research Prof Siddiqur Rahman.
“Extension of primary education is an important task to bring about a qualitative change in the education sector but the unprepared start may do just the opposite,” he added.
When contacted, Director General of Directorate of Primary Education Shymal Kanti Ghosh said the scheme is in the pilot phase.
“We will solve all the problems by next year,” he said.