09/07/2021, 00.00
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Bangladeshi students back to school after a year and a half

by Sumon Corraya

The education minister announced gradual school reopening after the COVID-19 emergency starting 12 September. For Catholic principal in Gazipur, this is the right decision, but “we don’t have a lot of space or teachers”.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Schools in Bangladesh are reopening after a year and a half of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic; for students, this meant long months of online learning and minimal human contact.

In announcing the measure on Sunday, Education Minister Dipu Moni said that school reopening will be gradual, starting on 12 September, with some students attend classes, at least for the first time, only once a week.

Class (Grade) 5 students will be back to normal hours as will Class (Grade) 10 students in both public schools and madrasahs. In both cases, students will take exams for their Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) and Secondary School Certificate (SSC).

Sister Mary Christina, principal of St Mary's Girls School & College, in Gazipur, near Dhaka, welcomed the return of students to school.

“I think that it is the right decision,” she told AsiaNews. “Learners lost a lot in the last two school years. Many children are now addicted to the Internet and computers.”

Returning to school will be partial and with many restrictions, for both teachers and students.

“As per government guidelines,” Sister Mary explained, “we have to arrange seating for learners so that they can maintain social distance in the classroom. Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of space or teachers.”

Students however will be happy to finally go back to school.

“With online learning we lost a lot,” said Peter Gomes, a student at the Bacha English Medium School in Dhaka. “I am happy that I will be soon able to return to attend classes in person and see my friends again.”

Parents too will be happy after having to cope with their children’s disorientation.

"Now that the virus is under control, our children can easily return to school,” said Iftakhur Islam, a parent. “Of course, we will have to live with COVID for some time, but it was important for schools to reopen.”

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) also welcomed the government's decision to reopen schools.

“Together with other development partners, we will continue to work closely with the government to keep schools safely open,” said Tomoo Hozumi, UNICEF representative in Bangladesh.

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