Millions of slum children out of education system
Getting involved in crimes
Golam Mostafa Jibon : Millions of children resided in different slums in the capital city Dhaka have remained out of education and are getting involved with different types of criminal activities including drug peddling due to lack of proper patronization by the authorities concerned.
As a result, the number of killing, robbery, snatching and abduction is increasing day by day. The recent Coronavirus situation has made doubled the rate of dropout from the primary level of schools as all the educational institutions had remained closure for a long time, experts said.
Babor, an eight-year-old boy begs alms in Mohammadpur area in Dhaka. His two sisters Lima and Bina are also beggars. They live in a slum in Rayerbazar embankment area along with their mother, who carried livelihoods by collecting abandoned plastics. As Babor’s father married another woman and left them, his mother fell into trouble to carry expenditure of the family. Finding no way, she was forced to send her children to beg instead of sending to school. Like Babor, Lima and Bina, millions of children living in slums of the capital, are deprived of education. Despite various initiatives of the government, it is not being possible to bring them to school. Ifsome of them come, many of them becomevictims of dropout before crossing the boundaries of primary. Later, these children are involved in horrible crimes including robbery, snatching, raping, kidnapping and drug dealing.
Employees of various non-government organizations (NGOs) involved in teaching in slum areas of the city said that, there is a lack of education techniques, management and adequate facilities for slum children. For this reason, despite public-private efforts, success is not being achieved.
BRAC Education Program’s Mahmud Hasan said, “A large number of slum children are dropping out due to poverty. These children need special care education. But, it lacks everything it needs. Parents cannot keep their children in school even if they want to. This is accompanied by various social crimes. The government must have a special plan for education by tackling all these challenges.”
According to the Department of Primary Education, the total number of government primary schools in Bangladesh is 65,566. A total of 4,27,52,156 students are studying in these schools.
According to the department’s 2019 annual primary school census, more than 1.5 crore students are eligible to go to school every year. The report does not say how many children are not attending school at the age of admission.
However, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), there are about 50 lakh children and adolescents in Bangladesh between the ages of six and 15, who are out of school.
A large number of them drop out before completing primary education. Around 20 percent of the students, who cannot cross the primary boundary,are in the country. When the school reopened after a closure for one and half year due to Corona pandemic, at least 20 percent more students were absent from school, the Department of Primary Education said.
There is no government primary school in the vicinity of intellectual slum adjacent to Mohammadpur embankment. Speaking to the slum dwellers, it is learned that before Corona, several NGOs used to run a few schools. At that time, almost all the children, who were fit to go to school, were admitted in the school. But, the NGOs tried to run the school in various ways during the Corona pandemic. But when most of the students drop out of school, they close the school.
Parents said that, due to lack of schools, children eligible for admission are not able to go to school and are involved in various crimes. Young children are involved in the drug trade. There are at least 50 children in the intellectual slums who are eligible for school admission.
Zafar Ahmed, another slum dweller said, “I can’t find a school for my child. Government schools are far away. Besides, I have no capacity to send my child to any school located out of my jurisdiction.
Regarding the non-attendance of slum children in schools, KM Enamul Haque, Deputy Director of the mass literacy campaign, said, “SDG-4 (quality education for all) will be hampered. The slum environment is not compatible with normal areas. As a result, special education system has to be introduced here.”
It is seen in the slums from Rayerbazar to Mohammadpur embankment, there is no minimum living environment for people. In crowded slums, toilets and sewerage system are very fragile. Slum houses are submerged in light rain.
The slum dwellers said, these slums have become centers for selling various drugs including Yaba, hemp and heroin. School-going children are also getting involved in this work after falling into the hands of drug trader parents. In this way, the children once stopped going to school.
Alamgir Muhammad Munsurul Alam, Director General of the Department of Primary Education said, “The government has taken up a project for the drop-out children through the Sub-Formal Education Bureau. Besides, NGOs are running schools with government support. Slums are not like other normal areas. So, it will take time to get success here.”
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