Checking dropouts in a unique way

http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=215473

Checking dropouts in a unique way
Children’s parks set up in primary schools in Patuakhali
Sohrab Hossain, Patuakhali

Baufal upazila parishad has taken an innovative approach to help bring down dropouts in government primary schools. It is setting up children’s parks in schools and constructing roads to give students easy access to schools.

Encouraged by cent percent pass rate in last year’s class-V terminal examinations in the upazila in Patuakhali, the parishad set up children’s parks in 60 of 122 primary schools there to draw students. Construction of 50 more is underway.

It also paved 25 roads for easy access to schools for students from nearby areas. About 65 more are under construction.

Urmee, a student of class-IV at Madanpura Government Primary School, said she could not attend school in the rainy season last year for bad condition of the road to her school.

But she has not missed any classes this year after the road got repaired.

Atiqur Rahman, headmaster of the school, said most students now come to school in the rainy season but the attendance hovered around 70-75 percent during the same period before the road was repaired.

The children’s park in the school is an additional attraction for students, he added.

Several students were found waiting for their turn to get on a swing at Hosnabad Government Primary School. Many of them come to school early to play on the swings.

Rafiqul Islam, a student of class-IV of Najirpur Government Primary School, said their playground used to go under water in the rainy season. It was developed last year, and now they can use it all year round.

Rezaul Karim, headmaster of Madanpura Government Primary School, said the parishad’s initiative helped increase attendance rate in his school. Now about 93 to 97 percent students attend classes, while it was 80 to 85 percent a year ago.

Sher-E-Gulkhan, headmaster of Nurainpur Government Primary School, said the children’s park of the school has brought a big change. The attendance rate went up to more than 90 percent from below 80 percent.

Upazila Chairman Engineer Mojibur Rahman said they are setting up children’s park on school playgrounds to provide students with leisure facilities on instructions from Patuakhali-2 lawmaker ASM Feroz, also whip of the Jatiya Sangsad.

The parishad is spending about Tk 50,000 on each children park from its own fund. The project started in January 2010 and will end by December next year.

“We have already re-excavated 36 school ponds. Of them, 10 have been brought under fish cultivation with fisheries department’s help. Another 63 will be re-excavated by next year,” said Mojibur, who last year received an award from the prime minister for his role in promoting primary education in his area.

“We will take another programme to grow seasonal vegetables on unutilised school land. The profits from the sale would go to poor and helpless students for buying books and stationery,” he said.

The parishad published a 472-page book Tathya Kanika. It contains names of all educational institutions in the upazila and information on students and teachers.

“We have already distributed the book to all educational institutions in the area. It will help students get in touch with each other. Upazila officials will also be able to communicate with any teachers or institutions by using the information provided in the book,” said Mojibur.

Md Ibrahim, upazila primary education officer, said “We are getting good results from these steps.”

Now most students go to school that has become a more interesting place for them, he added.

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