Dhaka, Bangladesh
Myriad remain idle as campuses shut until Oct 31

Myriad remain idle as campuses shut until Oct 31

Income-generating schemes for univ students suggested to prevent deviations

News Report Suggestions are rife that higher-level students ought to be kept engaged by productive means to prevent them from going astray as academic institutions remain shut for a longer time for the pandemic. The closure of all educational institutions across Bangladesh due to the covid-19 outbreak has now been extended till October 31, keeping lakhs of students out of formal classroom academic activity. Education officials said the decision was taken "in view of the prevalence rate of the coronavirus in recent days". A notice issued by the Education Ministry Thursday, signed by Mohammad Abul Khair, public relations officer of the ministry, announced the extension of campus closure. Education Minister Dipu Moni Wednesday said that the situation was still not favourable for reopening schools and, therefore, the closure shall be extended. Earlier, the closure had been extended till October 3. Meanwhile, the decision on holding the postponed Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) and its equivalent examinations will be announced Monday or Tuesday. Dipu Moni also said the mechanism for holding annual exams for class-VI, VII and others at schools will be declared soon. On March 17, the government closed the schools to contain the spread of covid-19 in Bangladesh and across the globe under a 'general holiday' as a pseudonym for 'lockdown' that other countries, particularly hard-hit ones, enforced to keep people indoors. Educational activities of about four crore students are being hampered due to the crisis. This year's Primary Education Completion and its equivalent exams and Junior School Certificate and its equivalent exams were cancelled. The government started tele-education on Sangsad TV for secondary-level students on March 29, for primary-level ones on April 7, and for technical and madrassa students on April 19 so that students can make up for some of their losses due to closure of the educational institutions. University students are also taking distance lessons through video-link with teaching by teachers, but exams are in abeyance waiting for the reopening of the institutions. As a recourse, Dhaka Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board has decided to conduct online classes for the newly admitted class-XI students under academic year 2020-21 from October 4. With the virus showing some recession in many parts of the world, countries are going for gradual reopening of academia. In neighbouring India, classes for students aged 14 to 17 were allowed to resume in some states last week, but a new announcement of opening affects all schools. “For the reopening of schools and coaching institutions, (states and territory) governments have been given the flexibility to take a decision after October 15… in a graded manner,” the education ministry said in a statement Thursday. Online and distance learning “shall be encouraged” and students cannot be forced to attend classes, it added, reports AFP. Higher education institutions remain shut, although some postgraduate and research students in science and technology courses could return to laboratories. Cinemas in the movie-obsessed country will be permitted to reopen with 50 percent capacity, while swimming pools can be used for sports training. With reference to prolonged closure and some incidents of offence by some deviated youths, including adult students, and so- called 'kishore gangs' of juveniles, social thinkers and elites suggest finding innovative ways of keeping laid-off university students engaged. Coming into mention the Bikalpo or Biswabidyalaya Karma Sangsthan Prokalpo bus service introduced for university students in the 80s. And scope is wider nowadays with the Fourth Industrial Revolution based on information communications technology and artificial intelligence or AI. Besides the long-stalled new-mode transport services, including company bus service on route franchise, freelancing, e-commerce, mechanized agriculture, marine fisheries in the extended continental shelf and the like may open up vistas of opportunities for providing income- generating vocations for the varsity students. "This stage of life has a propensity for adventure and chances of going astray. Keeping such a large number of young people idle across the country risks triggering social unrest, various offences," said Dr MA Mazid, former chairman of the National Board of Revenue, suggesting keeping them engaged by undertaking income-generating schemes.

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