'Reopening of educational institutions now will be suicidal'

Md Solamain Salman

31st May, 2020 09:58:40 printer

'Reopening of educational institutions now will be suicidal'

Noted educationists have suggested for not opening educational institutions right now amid the high infection and mortality rate by the coronavirus in the country. 

If the educational institutions reopen, ignoring the ongoing situation, it will be a suicidal decision and the students will be put at high risk. Besides, the parents also may not send their children to the schools and colleges in fear of the infection by the covid-19, they said.

Educationists have suggested that the government should not allow any educational institutions to reopen unless the worsening Covid-19 situation improves in the country.

Beside, the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, World Bank and health department of Bangladesh must be implemented before opening the institutions, they said.

Many guardians, however, alleged that they do not repose confidence in most of the teachers in the educational institutions regarding ensuring health safety. It is not to be expected that teachers will ensure safety and keep students safe in this situation.

There are also allegations that there are not enough preparations at the schools and colleges across the country to tackle any possible spread of the coronavirus.

Rasheda K Choudhury, Executive Director of Campaign for Popular Education, said, “My opinion is that the situation should be closely monitored before taking any decision. We have to make plan now on how to complete syllabus in the remaining time of the academic year.”

She said, “In case of reopening, the necessary guidelines regarding Coronavirus should be followed in the educational institutions. We have to focus on ensuring the safety of the students for a long time considering the nature of this virus.”

The educationist said the syllabus must be shortened as a long time went by due to the coronavirus. Most of parents do not want Primary Education Completion (PEC) exam.

Rasheda K Choudhury also a former advisor to caretaker government said the authorities may keep the Junior School Certificate (JSC) exams. But there may be a brief assessment in the subjects for this year.

She, however, said HSC exam can be taken at once by skipping SSC exam following the education policy-2010.

Educationist Prof Syed Manzoorul Islam said, “It would not be right decision to open educational institutions right now in this situation. In this case, I will support the opinion of the Prime Minister. She (PM) has said that the educational institutions will not open before September.”

He said the government should devise a plan focusing on identifying what can be done to minimize loss caused by the current shutdown in the education sector.

Syed Manzoorul Islam said, “About 20 percent of students may not return to school as parents of many students may be jobless due to the effect of coronavirus. We have to think about it. The government can give scholarships to these students so that they do not drop out.”

He also stressed distance learning, saying that the academic activities can be carried out through video-audio, online and television-radio during the shutdown period.

Former Dhaka University Vice-Chancellor Prof AAMS Arefin Siddique said, “There is no scope of opening educational institutions before the coronavirus situation becomes completely normal.”

He said: “This is because the size of the classroom is not wide in proportion to the number of students in educational institutions and maintaining social distancing is not possible.”

The educationist also said the academic activities should continue online to minimise the loss of students and taking additional classes after the improvement of the situation.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on April 27 said all the educational institutions might remain closed till September if the coronavirus situation does not improve in the country.

But, allegations are rife that a section of people involved in education trade are pressuring the government frequently to reopen the educational institutions immediately for their own interests.

Primary Education and Mass Education Ministry Secretary Akram Al Hossain said there is no decision of opening schools because children’s lives are first priority, then education. He said it would not be possible to open the primary level schools by June.

He said they will monitor the situation in June. In addition, they will prepare guidelines for the schools following the guidelines given by WHO and other agencies.

Education ministry’s Secondary and Higher Education Division Secretary Md Mahbub Hossain said that the government will take decision, considering the safety of the students.

He said the education ministry is observing the ongoing situation. Besides, they are planning what should be done to minimize the loss of students for the shutdown.

After the first detection of Covid-19 in Bangladesh on March 8, the Education Ministry kept all educational institutions closed from March 18 to till date to combat the spread of coronavirus.