Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Quality education in disadvantaged areas in Bangladesh depends on addressing equitable issues

Md Bayazid Khan
Education not only develops morality but also build human being as productive workforce. Education is also the most influential tool required to break the vicious cycle of abuse, malnutrition, poverty and oppression. A country’s economical, social, cultural and overall sustainable development depends mostly on education. Realizing the importance of education, the government of Bangladesh is lavishly contributing to ensure inclusiveness in education as well as providing qualitative education to all students at primary, secondary and tertiary tire of education. Government has chalked out multifarious & multidimensional digitalized plans with a view to provide qualitative education to make country’s future leaders as productive youth workforces who will be the key contributors for making government vision toward 2021 and 2041 a success. So, success of government’s vision thus requires a lot of attention in education.
But flat or uniform policy in education sector may be the hurdle as the country has hard to reach areas all over the country like low lying haor (low lying wet lands) areas, tea gardens, hilly areas etc. Uniform plan can never create all underprivileged and disadvantaged children’s smooth access to education as well as ensuring of providing them the most demanded education for livelihood. Uniform idea in education sector helps only to remain drop out, absenteeism, out of education and inadequate learning for employment in the most interior parts of the country. On the other hand, flat policy may hinder to remove vacancy of teachers, supervisory officers, office staffs as well as to appoint qualified teachers for educational institutions in above mentioned disadvantaged areas of the country.
This is absolutely true that quality education is the key to overcoming poverty. The term quality education means achievement of an acceptable level of reading, understanding and writing in Bangla & English language and solving simple problems in basics of arithmetic with need based learning for livelihood even the students depart education. So, quality must require suitable knowledge & skill based education for livelihood. Unfortunately, a significant number student in disadvantaged interior parts of the country fails to receive a quality education. Various studies of students’ learning achievement indicate that the situation is actually grim regards to attain quality education.
This is irony of matter comparing to government’s huge investment in primary education that only a few can read simple text fluently or answer questions from the text and do basic arithmetic sums. In addition, still some children simply do not have access to education in the underprivileged haor areas, tea gardens, char areas, hilly areas and slum areas. Those fortunate enough to enroll often drop out owing to poverty, malnutrition, poor communication & inadequate transport facilities, absence of student friendly school infrastructure and disinterest in participating teaching-learning activities in the classrooms. These are the massive challenges in primary education management of disadvantaged areas and definitely have some root causes that must be uprooted. Similar sorts of challenges like poor quality learning, drop out, teachers & students’ absenteeism, inadequate skill-based learning for livelihood also prevail in secondary and tertiary tier of education. So, considering the above mentioned prevailing hindrances towards imparting quality education to the students in the most disadvantaged parts of the country, the government must be chalked out area friendly suitable plans in lieu of flat plans to address equitable issues towards ensuring of quality education. Thus government vision regards to ensure equality in imparting quality education to entire students might be achieved.
Absences of qualified and committed teachers associated with huge number of vacant teachers’ posts are the main problem in haor districts and other disadvantaged areas. Shortages of qualified local personnel competent for teachers, communication problem with non-availability of transport facilities, absence of accommodation facilities at institutions’ campuses, existing primary school teacher appointment policy of keeping provision of appointing female teachers etc are the root causes of the problem. Vicious cycle of inadequate learning in all tiers of education must be broken by motivating teachers, parents and students as well as strengthening monitoring of teaching-learning system by supervisory offices, managing committee members, local public representatives & elites to get available teaching aspirant qualified local personnel. To the contrary, the government might be appointed required number of male teachers for a time being in disadvantaged areas’ government primary & secondary schools and colleges considering female teachers’ transfer tendency.
Teachers’ absenteeism is an acute problem in smooth running of classrooms teaching-learning activities and the problem certainly creates disinterest among students in attending schools/colleges regularly. So, residential or accommodation facilities for teachers might be ensured at educational institutions. The government may think of establishing teachers’ dormitory at a suitable place in each union. Moreover, the government may think of launching “Teachers Boat” for each & every union to ensure teachers’ timely arrival and departure. Management of the boats may be organized by the teachers. These boats might be used too as resource centers for teachers’ professional development. Teachers’ legitimate absenteeism due to enjoying various leave and temporary shortages of teachers may hinder smooth running of regular classroom activities. The government may form retired teachers’ pool at upazila level and hire them for mitigating temporary teacher crisis.
Poor attendance is a big concern towards continuation of students’ learning. Poor communication and lack of transportation hinder regular attendance of students at educational institutions of haor and hill districts. Moreover, absence of taking food during leisure, come without taking food, malnutrition etc also create disinterest among students of poor families to attend regularly or participate classroom activities actively. So, establishment of residential primary & secondary schools and colleges, launching of mid-day meal/school feeding program, providing small boats for students facing difficulties by the collaborative initiative of government and community people may remove students’ absence at schools. Beside government contribution well-off community people may be involved to bear the huge expenses of providing residential students with food or regular students with mid-day meal. During harvest haor people may contribute in cash or kind like giving rice, egg, fish and duck meat to supplement the government contribution.
Earning for families or helping to household activities/families’ income generating activities by children of ultra-poor families remain a reality in the aforesaid areas in Bangladesh. Many families don’t have a choice – they depend on the income earned by their children to keep food on the table. Because, even if most parents want their kids to go to school, poverty makes that impossible. In extremely poor families in Bangladesh, everyone has to earn something – even the children. Considering economic condition of ultra poor distressed families and geographical condition of the locality, second chance alternative education for out of school and dropped out children might be started with GO-NGO collaboration by establishing multi-graded learning centers or floating boat schools at hard to reach corners of the said disadvantaged districts keeping the provision of providing food, school dress, teaching aid etc and running the teaching-learning activities with flexible timetables. Other types of running GO-NGO schools aiming to same target might be brought under the flagship of second chance alternative education programme by making a convenient policy or guidelines.
To dispel another vital challenge of absence of adequate number of supervisory officers and office staffs at education offices because of huge number vacant posts, the government might be taken different policy for appointing or transferring them in haor districts and other disadvantaged areas. Haor allowance, better rate of TA/DA/Fixed TA (only for academic supervisors) than plain areas rate, fixing up maximum service duration, assurance of price posting after stipulated duration etc. might be inspired government officials to work with commitment at said areas. Workplaces at haor districts and other disadvantaged areas might not be identified as dumping station for punishment posting. There must have a mandatory policy for government officials to work there once in their total service time. Otherwise, they should not be considered for promotion.
As poor people of haor districts mostly depends on single crop paddy cultivation and fishing from natural source to earn their livelihood all the year round, therefore establishment of technical and vocational institute of fishery & fish processing, duck husbandry, agriculture, marine engineering etc. must encourage people to continue their offspring’s study. Continuation to study rather than dropping out also needs establishment of agro based industries like fish and dry fish processing factories, factories of frozen fast foods from fishes & ducks (nuggets, burgers, hot dogs, balls, fingers, rolls, patties etc.), factories of frozen fishes & duck meats, animal feed industries, rice product industries etc. in potential areas of haor districts. On the other hand, institute of tourism and hotel management also remove drop out from education as haor districts have potentiality on tourism expansion.
All the educational institutions in haor districts might be multi-storey and constructed or re-constructed by keeping the provision of using as flood shelters too. Hill areas schools also should be multi-storey. There should have separate wash blocks for boys & girls and electricity or solar panel facilities. Accommodation facilities for teachers may inspire teachers to stay at workplaces.
Last but not the least, officers working for education departments are to visit schools and their frequent school visit with intensive monitoring of teaching-learning activities can improves school environment and students’ learning performances. So, they might be involved mostly on duties with academic supervision or monitoring schools.
So, realization of government’s commitment to SDG4 providing entire students with quality education inevitably needs to make separate area friendly policies keeping eyes on addressing equitable issues rather than making flat or uniform policies. Hopefully, the country is on the wheels of progress in realizing its vision towards providing quality education to entire students all over the country.
Recent talk of the country is peoples’ sufferings due to water logging, flood, traffic congestion and disgusting & time consuming travelling for severely damaged road condition. Facing each and every issue people from all section of the community consciously or unconsciously blaming public representatives or the government. They are not blaming concern departments or administrative machineries of the country. Although public representatives have no absolute power to resolve the crisis regards to ensure peoples’ safe, comfortable and hazard less living. People only know that they elected public representatives who are the only authority to provide them basic civic facilities for smooth running of lives in the society. They are not concern to know the policy of the government or proper authority for addressing the above mentioned challenges for their sound existence in the community. Like other developed countries in the world people of Bangladesh rationally and authentically demand to their elected public representatives for providing them desired civic facilities for comfortable living in the society.

The writer is working for primary education in a haor district.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Haor- The land of bounteous possibilities

Md Bayazid Khan
The almighty endowed Bangladesh lavishly with a plenty of natural beauties. The country has a variety of natural beauties like hills, longest sea beach, the largest mangrove forest (the Sunderbans) & other forests, rivers & canals, low lying wetlands (haors) etc. These beautiful places spread almost in all interior parts all over the country facing considerable challenges. But these places also have opportunities that need to be utilised properly. The entire naturally beautiful interior places are full of resources which may contribute significantly to the economic development of the country. These places need to be brought under a comprehensive plan for development for utilising its resources effectively.
Haors or wetlands are one of the resourceful but neglected areas, situated in the interior corners of the country. According to the Bangladesh Haor and Wetland Development Board, Sunamganj, Habiganj, Sylhet, Moulvibazar, Brahmanbaria, Netrokona and Kishoreganj districts are dotted with as many as 373 Haors or large bowl-shaped wetlands. Haors are the wetland areas covered by water almost six or seven months in a year starting from the monsoon. People of haors are to depend on a single crop Boro and fishing (only from natural sources) to earn their livelihood. Being the cultivators of a single crop, people of haor belts contribute a lot to the overall rice production of the country.
But extreme poor communication system and absence of alternative earning sources are the vital reasons for economic deprivation and social inequalities. From April to October all the lands are submerged in water in Hoar areas. At that time, there is no land in sight. Water and only water is everywhere, nothing dry in sight. Lack of transportation and communication hinders access to houses, educational institutions, markets and remote places of haors which are the major impediments towards economic, social and cultural development of haor people.
Last few months talk of the country was about devastation in haors as prolonged rain and onrush of upstream water triggered flash floods inundated country’s low-lying haor areas in the northeastern region. Thousands of farmers in haors were hit hard by untimely flash flooding when they were getting ready to reap a good harvest. As farmers of haor districts are to depend on a single crop of Boro to earn their livelihood all the year round, so their sufferings know no bound because of their cultivated corps are damaged totally by the natural disaster that hit in the wetlands recently. The disaster not only led to the damage of corps but also deaths of fishes and damaging animal fodder. The ill-fated people were compelled to sell their cattle at a throw-away price too. The natural disaster also brought various indirect adverse affect on income generation, education etc.
The country’s media, intellectuals and experts were busy to identify causes and effects of the disaster immediately after the disaster took place.   The discussion certainly will be stopped, but sufferings of haor people will never end. It is quite natural that natural disaster may hit anywhere, anytime. Nobody can resist natural disaster to take place. But well organised and comprehensive plan and preparedness may reduce loss of lives and resources. Knowing that flash floods may hit the wetlands anytime, the government had preparedness like previous years. The government provided necessary money for this year to strengthen embankments of haors for protecting crops. But absence of timely implementation of government plans and negligence in performing duties honestly & sincerely by officials concerned are the main causes of this year’s man-made havoc.  
It is most unfortunate that the country’s intellectuals, experts, media were almost quiet year after year as was active in recent days despite of knowing haor people’s regular sufferings in the forms of  “dependency only on single crop cultivation & fishing from natural source, absence of alternative way for livelihood, limited opportunities/resources in earning sources, shortages of manpower in service providing public offices, communication & transportation problems, negligence & dishonesty in implementing development friendly projects etc”. Taking the lessons from this year’s huge damages and sufferings of grief-stricken people of haors into account caused by natural and men-made disaster, the government and all concerned may consider the following challenges to be taken for uplifting haor people’s fate and living standard or economic condition.
Floating method or tower system vegetable cultivation might be encouraged during monsoon. Training to farmers and demonstration projects in each upazila by agriculture department/NGOs regarding these methods of vegetable cultivation may attract farmers to implement. Initiatives might be taken to motivate people for cultivating seasonal vegetables & crops in the fertile lands during the winter.
Haor people may be encouraged to opt for commercial fish farming in the sweet water of ponds, canals or rivers. They might be ensured of providing financial and logistic supports with training by the fishery department. Livestock department may take initiative to encourage people for duck farming and providing them with training on duck husbandry. Duck farmers might be provided too with logistic & financial supports.
Haors are the fertile land of presenting genius to the nation. The government needs to chalk out suitable plans for identifying or exploring potential geniuses of haors by creating their smooth access to qualitative education. Residential primary and secondary schools might be established to dispel students’ absence at schools during monsoon and months after monsoon. Well-off community people may be involved to bear the huge expenses of providing residential students with food. During harvest they may contribute in cash or kind like giving rice, egg, fish and duck meat to supplement the government contribution. These residential schools might be used as flood shelter too. The government may think of introducing floating boat schools at the hard to reach pockets of haors.
By keeping nature and beauty of haors intact for protecting ecological balance, connecting submerge roads or flyovers and river ways may be constructed to establish well intra & inter communication/transportation networks  at villages, unions, upazilas and districts within haors. Public and private investors might be inspired to invest on establishing agro based industries like fish and dry fish processing factories, factories of frozen fast foods from fishes & ducks (nuggets, burgers, hot dogs, balls, fingers, rolls, patties etc), factories of frozen fishes & duck meats, animal feed industries, rice product industries etc as low cost raw materials are available here in plenty. Moreover, the government might take initiatives to import frozen food items from these factories.
Haor could be an excellent destination of tourism. Regarding this, the government may construct flyovers to connect all seven districts within haor with Dhaka by keeping the provision of both road & railway on the flyovers. River cruise might be launched to see the beauty of haor by keeping the arrangement of cultural programme to present Bangladesh to the domestic & foreign tourists. Sightseeing cable cars may attract tourists to enjoy the natural beauty of haor. High rise multi storied towers might be set up in the different parts of haor and there might have cafes of fast foods & coffee as well as internet cafes at the top. Downstairs of towers may be kept open for boat movement and smooth flow of haor water.  
Arrangements of colourful and well decorated small boats may attract tourists to go different towers. These tower could also be used by haor people during rain or storm as shelter while transportation. Expansion of tourism in haor districts may create alternative way of earning source to the local people. Besides lovely & healthy places in the huge water of haors for amusement, other potential tourism spots should be identified and nourished for attracting tourists so that they have various options to choose haor districts for tourism.
Haor allowance for public and private service holders might be introduced for attracting them to choose haor areas for service spontaneously. As a result people of haor may receive highest level of benefits of government services.
All the government and non-government agencies should have coordinated and comprehensive plan for haor areas and its people’s development and plan should be implemented and monitored properly and frequently.            
The writer is working for primary education in a haor district.  

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Doing the Danube - Raising Awareness of the Barriers to Education

This summer, 2017, explorer and adventurer Justin Miles will be kayaking the entire navigable length of Europe’s second longest river, the River Danube.
The mighty River Danube covers some three thousand kilometres, passing through ten countries and three capital cities. Mile upon mile of ever-changing scenery.
Justin’s kayaking adventure on the River Danube this summer will be used to connect with schools around the globe quite literally ‘bringing the world in to classrooms’, to raise awareness of the global education crisis by discussing and exploring various barriers to education throughout the journey and to raise money for UK-based charity ‘Education For Everyone’ which will then distribute funds to support carefully selected education projects around the world.
With approximately one month spent on the river, Justin will have plenty of time to create resources and discussion topics for schools, teachers and children of all ages to use and, when technology permits, Justin will connect and engage with classrooms whilst he’s actually on the adventure.
Throughout this adventure, we will be exploring and investigating some of the many barriers to education which resonate and overlap with created resources.
To stage the River Danube adventure and make it as engaging and interactive as possible, Justin is seeking help and support through a crowdfunding page which you can view by clicking this link. You, your school or your company can get involved in a number of ways, from sponsoring a day of rations, to becoming the main ‘headline’ sponsor, or simply by making a small donation.
More news to follow, but in the mean time you can follow @ExplorerJust on Twitter or find ExplorerJust on Instagram
You can find out a little more about the River Danube here

Monday, 1 May 2017

Our First Ever Fundraising Virtual Race

What is a Virtual Race?
A virtual race is a race that can be undertaken at any location in the world. You can walk, use the treadmill, run outside or participate in another race. You can run your race at your pace anywhere in the world.  You could even ride a bicycle or a horse.
How to Take Part in Education 4 Everyone’s 10K Virtual Race
For more information and to sign-up click here.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Printing Sponsors

We would like to say a massive thank you to the following companies who have kindly donated their services free of charge.  This means that funds we raise can be used in support of our charitable objectives.

RAL Display Marketing are kindly donating the printing of a pop-up banner which will be used at events to raise awareness of our forthcoming Land's End to John O'Groats Motorbike fundraiser. Please visit their website

HelloPrint have kindly donated the printing of flyers and flags for the motorbikes to raise awareness of our Land's End to John O'Groats Motorbike fundraiser.  They have also donated the printing of a banner to promote the charity at forthcoming fundraising events.  Please visit their website