POST TIME: 6 September, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Makeshift pry schools planned for disaster-prone areas
Harun ur Rashid

Makeshift pry schools planned for disaster-prone areas

The government is planning to set up makeshift primary schools in areas prone to natural calamities like river erosion to evade the loss of permanent concrete buildings.

Primary and mass education ministry sources said the government has observed that every year natural calamities result in the loss of many government primary schools, esepcially those located near different riverbanks. Even primary schools with permanent concrete structures go under water in the flood-prone areas, as well as in Haor and the coastal areas, resulting in severe damage to school buildings, besides requiring huge amounts of money every year to repair them.

The sources also said that when such schools are submerged in water or gobbled up by the river, all educational activities have to be shut down till the damaged buildings are repaired or new buildings are built.

Considering these factors, the primary and mass education ministry is planning to set up makeshift or movsble primary schools in calamity-prone areas so that the loss of permanent buildings can be averted and educational activities are not suspended.

“We have taken a plan to set up makeshift, or moveable, or floating primary schools in the natural calamity-prone areas, where educational activities are stopped during times of disasters,” Md Gias Uddin Ahmed, additional secretary (development) of the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education, told The Independent on Monday.

“Every year, educational activities in primary schools are stopped for almost six months in the flood-prone Haor or coastal areas. We don’t want our children to remain out of school during the natural calamities,” he said.

“We will not set up permanent buildings for primary schools in the river erosion-prone areas. It is a huge loss of money for us. Besides, educational activities are also hampered until new buildings are constructed. It takes a long time to build a new building,” he added.

“As the schools will be movable, they can be shifted to a safer place during natural calamities. We have to change our policy of setting up schools considering geographical conditions like hills, marshy lands, and river basin areas,” he noted.

About the implementation of the plan, Gias Uddin said the ministry concerned would carry out a survey to identify the disaster-prone areas where the makeshift schools can be set up. “We will assess the survey reports before implementing the plan. The survey may take one year. Later, we will work on executing the plan. We have the experience of other countries where such makeshift schools are being built,” he added.

The ministry concerned said enrolment in primary schools is increasing every year. So, it would be the task of the ministry to offer education to children without any break due to natural calamities that may endanger school buildings, sources said.

As Bangladesh is a riverine country, many of the educational institutions here are damaged every year due to floods and river erosions, causing an enormous loss of money and a break in the holding of classes. Sources in the Directorate of Primary Education said at least 2,166 primary schools were damaged in the floods last year. Among the damaged schools, 684 were in Kurigram, 239 in Jamalpur, 203 in Lalmonirhat, 174 in Gaibandha, 160 in Maulvibazar and 156 in Rangpur.

While at least 11 primary schools were devoured by river erosion in Rajshahi division, a total of 668 schools were damaged by floods during that time. The total financial loss ran up to Tk 8.38 crore.