Dhaka,  Friday
19 April 2024

Classrooms or Cowsheds? 

Education reality in Nilphamari challenges official records

Ripon islam Sheikh

Published: 05:44, 17 February 2024

Education reality in Nilphamari challenges official records

Photo : Messenger

Recent findings in Dimla Upazila of Nilphamari have revealed a concerning disparity between the apparent state of education and the ground reality. Despite records indicating a thriving educational landscape with thousands of enrolled students, investigations have uncovered a different truth. While books are distributed, and classes appear to be in session, many educational institutions seem to exist only on paper.

According to data from the Upazila Secondary and Education Office, there are reportedly 15,000 students enrolled in 94 schools across Nilphamari Dimla Upazila. Additionally, there are 125 registered private primary schools, bringing the total number of students to an average of 18,000. However, upon closer inspection, it becomes apparent that these numbers may not accurately reflect the true situation.

Several instances highlight the discrepancy between reported enrollment and actual educational activity. For example, Gayabari Masterpara Shishu Mangal Private Primary School, purportedly housing around 200 students according to official records, was found to lack both students and a functioning teaching system. Instead of classrooms, the school grounds were being utilized for agricultural purposes, with no indication of when, or if, the school would be operationalized.

Similarly, Dakshin Kharibari Private Primary School, with a reported enrollment of 180 students, was discovered to be essentially non-functional. Despite the presence of physical infrastructure and books, there was no evidence of regular classes being conducted. This discrepancy raises questions about the legitimacy of reported enrollment figures and the quality of education being provided.

Even institutions like Purnajhar Ibtedayi Madrasa, while physically standing, have deviated from their intended purpose. Instead of functioning as places of learning, some of these institutions have been repurposed for non-educational activities, such as housing livestock. The lack of oversight and accountability has allowed such deviations to persist, depriving children of their right to education. The situation is further compounded by allegations of corruption within the education system.

Headteachers, speaking anonymously, have revealed instances where they were coerced into paying bribes in exchange for essential resources such as textbooks. This systemic corruption not only undermines the integrity of the education system but also exacerbates the challenges faced by already marginalized communities.

Despite low student enrollment in upazila institutions, the Education Office reports satisfactory exam results for every primary school and Ibtedayi Madrasa, including promising pass rates and scholarship recipients. However, an investigation has uncovered unsettling practices, revealing that some students in sixth, seventh, or eighth grade were enlisted to participate in Class V final/board exams, perpetuating a facade of excellence.

Abdul Halim, the Secondary Education Officer of Dimla Upazila, appeared unaware of the number of independent institutions in the area, and the distribution of textbooks. When questioned about the distribution of a hundred thousand books, he deferred to his accountant, disavowing knowledge. Furthermore, when confronted with allegations of demanding Tk 500 per institution, he evaded comment on financial matters, dismissing the need for scrutiny.

These revelations raise serious concerns about the state of education and oversight in the area, prompting questions about the indiscriminate distribution of textbooks to establishments resembling cattle sheds. The community is left grappling with the disheartening reality of a once-promising institution now lying in neglect, while those in positions of authority seem to evade accountability.