Bangladesh promotes inclusive education on Meena DayDhaka, September 24, 2008: Today Bangladesh is celebrating Meena Day under the theme of ‘Inclusive Education – Quality Education to end exclusion’. Bangladesh has recorded remarkable successes in increasing national rates of school enrollment over the past decade. However some groups of children remain out of school or drop out before reaching grade 5. These include children with special needs, children living in urban slums or in remote rural areas, working children, children from very poor families and from ethnic minorities, refugee children. Only a small fraction of disabled children enroll in school. Of all the surveyed population groups, children living in the urban slums have the lowest rates of net school attendance—far below national averages.
‘Without access to quality education, these children are denied the opportunity to acquire the knowledge, capacities, skills and self-confidence required to break the inter-generational poverty cycle and therefore move out of exclusion’, said UNICEF Representative, Carel de Rooy. This is why it is important to have a special attention for these groups of vulnerable children. We need to ensure that they are offered the same quality education than the majority of children in Bangladesh.’
Factors such as poor quality of teaching, weak school management, curriculum irrelevance and language also lead to marginalization and exclusion of children, even for those who are attending schools. Children may sit in the classroom, but feel excluded from learning in the classroom because of the teacher’s and peers’ attitudes.
To address this situation, inclusive education is incorporated into all components of the second Primary Education Development Programme (PEDP II) and at all levels of the education sector from the Ministry to the classroom. This approach aims at removing all barriers to learning and acknowledging individual children’s needs and potential. Such barriers include culture, gender, work, negative attitudes, illness, school facilities, location, language, disability, lack of awareness about the importance of education, race, malnutrition and poverty. Many children could attend school if families, communities, schools and the education system at large were more responsive to their requirements.
The celebration of Meena day was marked by the launch of four new Meena TV spots and episodes by M. Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, Secretary, Ministry of Primary and Mass Education (MOPME) at BIAM auditorium. These new Meena cartoons, produced with UNICEF support, promote equal participation in education, teacher's positive role, love of books and child-friendly school environment. The episodes are: ‘Let’s go to School Together’, ‘Teacher helps to Learn’, ‘We love Books’ and ‘My School is Fun’.
As part of Meena day programme, children disguised as Meena, Razu and Mithu participated in a parade on the streets of Dhaka. Bangladesh Shishu Academy also organized cultural programmes to observe the day. Children’s’ groups performed drama on different parts of the city to increase awareness on the importance of quality education to end exclusion.
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