Friday, 17 September, 2021

Can’t We Do Anything for Kindergartens?

Masum Billah

Can’t We Do Anything for Kindergartens?
Masum Billah

Popular News

The closure of educational institutions saw its crossing of 500 days on 29 July 2021 when we came to learn further extension of closure till 31 August that clearly means the doors of our educational institutions will remain shut for 533 days. We don’t actually know what is going to happen after that. The kindergartens of the country have seen the signal of being closed being unable to cope with this long closure for eighteen months and already half of the kindergartens have already been closed. These institutions seem to be guardian less as the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education says these institutions don’t belong to them and similar is the case with the Ministry of Education in case of the kindergartens giving education beyond grade five  and above. However, these institutions have been established responding to the needs and calls of the society and definitely our children are going there and their number is around ten million. So, how far it is reasonable to say these institutions don’t belong to MoPME? 

Kindergarten schools need to register with the government that many kindergartens did not follow and probably the ministry has some anger over this community. However, we think kindergartens accommodate ten lakh teachers and with these teachers minimum forty-fifty lakh people get their bread. Their way of teaching may have some questions and doubts but they are not solely responsible for this. The miserable picture of our entire primary education system gets reflected here. So, only kindergartens cannot be held responsible for that. We rather want to say that many people adopt very unfair means in the society and they are affluent and rich but the people working in kindergartens don’t get themselves involved in those types of corruption; rather they are disseminating education to our ten million children. They obtain very poor salary and to supplement their income they do private tuition which stands as a common affair in the flourishing schools and government schools even. Due to Corona pandemic that area of income has also stopped leaving them in an extremely difficult situation. Many have already changed their profession and have resorted to such kind of jobs that don’t go with their degree and status. This year only 30 per cent students have got enrolled in KGs and all of them are not giving tuition fee. Half of these institutions will not resume their activities, that means, five lakh teachers are not coming back to this profession. 

‘Bangladesh Primary Education Statistics-2020’ mentions that we have nine types of primary schools which accommodate   one lakh 332 institutions with more than 2 crore 15 lakh 52 thousand students and 7 lakh 40 thousand 471 teachers. Out of them KG schools are 29 thousand 897 that accommodate 40 lakh 75 thousand 533 learners and two lakh 847 teachers. However, the leaders of KG schools claim that the number of schools would be more than sixty thousand and teacher and staff about ten lakh. We also think so. We always get a confusing picture about the number of KG schools, their teachers and students as the Thana Education Offices hardly bother about the existence of KG schools and this is why we don’t get the exact number. We need to depend on the KG school leaders to learn about the number. The available sources say that we have more or less one lakh 33 thousand primary schools and out of them 65 thousand 620 are government and the rest are run privately where about one crore students study. These figures don’t allow us to say that kindergartens should not belong to any ministry.

It is a reality whether we agree it or not that it shows a very difficult task or a little bit impossible to run very smoothly all the primary educational institutions absolutely by the state. A portion of primary education can be run by some other entity/entities other than the government. However, teachers engaged in either government or non-government institutions, their financial security must be maintained by the state either from the state treasury or combined management by state and community/guardian. Teachers must be exempted from the tension of earning their bread if we really want their dedication towards teaching. We cannot afford to make our future generation crippled by giving them poor quality primary education. Primary education must be up to the age standard and for ensuring it, all who are involved in it must have financial security irrespective of their being government or non-government teachers. But it is the responsibility of the government to ensure quality education for the children getting enrolled in either type of primary school. 

For homeless, helpless and shelter less children ‘Reaching Out of School Children (ROSC) Project’ established Ananda Schools in more than one hundred fifty Upazilas. 22 thousand of such schools accommodated six lakh twenty four thousand children. However, many of these schools have been closed due to corruption. The children of the rest of the schools have got seriously disconnected from the schools and from their teachers. They have probably involved with activities or hazardous works that go against child labour policy. What will happen to these children in these long eighteen months closure of the school? Mind it, the children that used to come here are basically parentless who have been hit by extreme poverty and cruelty of the society. Don’t we have anything do for them?

 ‘Global Partnership for Education’ conference decided to develop a fund for reforming the education system of the poor nations of the world. The conference was held by the initiative of UK and Kenya and within the next five years this fund would be spent. It will give educational opportunity to extra nine crore children of the world and educational environment will be created for 17 crore children. Interested countries have agreed to the point of collecting the amount. The chairman of GPE Julia Gillard, the ex-Prime Minister of Australia expressed his firm belief to collect the money but I get astonished to see the role of our rich Muslim countries who misspent a huge amount of money for leading luxurious life without giving even a little thought to the education of poor children of the world.

In response to the deplorable condition of the kindergarten schools, the government could advise the guardians to pay at least half of the usual tuition fee to ensure that the schools can continue their academic activities online or using mobile or home schooling system. This decision would be better for all concerned as students would be in touch with education and the guardians would be relieved of the tension they undergo as students keep glued to mobile or TV screens or loiter here and there unprotected. This would save the families of kindergarten teachers from starvation and social security would have been restored. We must remember that it is our collective responsibility to save these social institutions. We can in no way ignore or try to avoid such a reality of kindergartens which ten million children belong to.


The writer works for BRAC

Education as a specialist and is

the President: English Teachers’

Association of Bangladesh (ETAB).

Email: [email protected]