Collaborative efforts are needed to prevent school dropouts, especially among slum children amid the pandemic in the country, a new survey report suggests
The study findings, revealed Wednesday, shows that every school has a School Management Committee (SMC), but only 27.5 per cent have a Parents-Teachers Association (PTA) and about 52 per cent have a School Cabinet.
To reduce the rate of school dropouts and ensure better education for the students of urban slum schools, especially at the secondary level, the importance of good governance, fairness in need-based financial support, development work, and alternative learning opportunities should be prioritised.
The study was conducted in over 40 schools and 673 households of students in Dhaka South City Corporation between December 2020 and March 2021.
Plan International Bangladesh with the support of ‘Research and Development Collective (RDC)’ presented the baseline survey report titled “Reducing School Dropout in Urban Slums of Bangladesh: Impact of COVID-19”.
The report says that the stakeholders are aware of high dropouts in secondary schools, particularly among girls in urban slums. However, the stakeholders do not think that they are well-equipped to address this dropout issue.
Another major study finding was that although there were expectations from the PTA’s role in the school, current role and responsibilities are very limited in the child education front.
As mentioned SMC takes care of most affairs in school and they do not want other parties to have any influence in the school matter. Stakeholders also noted that the parents are indifferent to school affairs and are irregular in attending PTA meetings.
It was found that long school closure has had an adverse impact on the students' learning already.
The report suggests that financial and other support is necessary for the students as the schools have reopened.
Professor Dr Syed Md Golam Faruk, Director General of the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education (DSHE), said, despite Covid being unknown to all, the DSHE worked to ensure an immediate response.
Within a week of school closure, we initiated a parliamentary tv classroom and online class to continue educational activities. We did have technological challenges, he added while speaking as the chief guest.
Ashik Billah, Head of Central and Northern Region, Plan International Bangladesh, said, education officers, teachers and the school management committee should discuss the management of school, challenges and the way forward at least once in three months.
School fees should be exempted for students from urban slums, rural areas, especially those who are from families in financial crisis, as their income has been challenged due to the COVID-19 pandemic, speakers suggested.
Among others, Prof Syeda Tahmina Akhter, IER, University of Dhaka and Nishat Nazmi, Education Officer of UNICEF Bangladesh spoke at the event.