Due to the influence of Corona, educational institutions in Bangladesh have been closed for more than a year. According to UNICEF, in 13 other countries besides Bangladesh, educational institutions have been closed since March 2020. However, Bangladesh is the only country in South Asia where educational institutions have been continuously closed for more than a year.
After identifying the first Kovid-19 patient in the country, the government announced the closure of all educational institutions on March 17, 2020. Although everything was opened in phases after May 30, the issue of opening educational institutions was repeatedly delayed and finally it was decided to open schools-colleges on March 30 and universities from May 23. But due to the increase in corona infection in early March, the government postponed the decision to reopen the school until May 23. The question is, if the current wave of corona is long or intense, should the government be adamant in its decision to open an educational institution?
It may be true that the rate of corona infection in the country is lower than expected due to the closure of educational institutions. But we do not know the rate of infection if the educational institution was open. After the opening of the school in Europe, the school had to close again due to the increase in corona infection. However, there does not appear to be any research-based data on the increase in infections due to the opening of schools. Suppose a school were to open in Bangladesh in February, many of us would probably try to establish a link between the current growth rate of the corona and the school opening.
However, it is conceivable that Corona is not leaving easily. The United Nations also says it could be a seasonal disease in the world. As a part of Bishwagram, it is very normal to have a small number of corona patients in Bangladesh throughout the year. And if so, will the educational institution be closed forever? Certainly not. Institutional education is the main foundation of modern civilization. Corona has hit more here.
The economic, social and political damage of the closure of educational institutions for more than a year does not seem to have made us think much. Because, this loss cannot be easily expressed like the loss of factories, roads, public transport, hotels, restaurants, entertainment centers or book fairs. For example, the economic loss we calculated for the three months of the lockdown last year did not take into account the damage caused by the closure of the educational institution. Because there is a multidimensional aspect of education, the loss of closure of educational institutions cannot be easily measured. And if we calculate the loss on the basis of GDP, we will not find any specific evidence that there has been any major loss due to the closure of educational institutions. Because, with the exception of some kindergarten schools, all other educational institutions, including tuition fees, are in the pre-Corona state. Then one might say that the closure of the educational institution for a year did not cause much damage. So what if it stays off for a while longer – or what?
You see, the loss of closure of educational institutions is as slow on the one hand and far-reaching on the other. And so the far-reaching impact of the long one-year closure of educational institutions may not be measured by us now. So there is no reason to think that it is missing. Imagine for a second you were transposed into the karmic driven world of Earl. Students are connected to the school for online welfare, not in the city. But has anyone ever thought about the millions of students who live in the village? Most children from low-income families may never be able to return to school. Many may have chosen the path of earning. Most of them have become addicted to various drugs including mobile phones. And think about the social damage aspects? Even if they return to school, the quality of their education is easy to guess.
So many of us say that if we study a little more, these losses will be compensated. That is, our education system is limited to teaching, reading and, above all, examinations. So maybe we never think about the multifaceted positive aspects of education. We are happy when the child gets a good GPA. We are not worried about whether the child is a good person or not. Because, there is no standard to measure good people like GPA-5. There is no competition in the society to be a good person. The GPA-based result-oriented education system has blinded us even more. An important component of the multifaceted positive aspects of education is that it is the main regulator of human social growth. And if the child does not develop socially, no matter how great a scholar he may be, he will sink into the abyss of narrowness. Evidence abounds in society. If a child grows up socially even if he does not know how to read, he will never be the cause of harm to the society or the country.
The decision to reopen the educational institution seems reasonable considering the loss of social development and emotional loss of the students as a result of the closure of the educational institution for a long year. Since teachers have been vaccinated against corona and most teachers have already been vaccinated, a major hurdle in opening schools and colleges has been removed. Registration has started at the university level to bring students under the corona vaccine. I hope it will be possible to bring them under the vaccine in the next one month. And then all the obstacles to open an educational institution will be removed. So whether the corona infection increases or decreases, our lofty call is to persevere in the decision to open the educational institution in May. And people should encourage the government to stick to this decision. It is no longer acceptable to close educational institutions to prevent corona infection.
● Dr. Syed Abdul Hamid is a Professor at the Institute of Health Economics, Dhaka University