After four years of a project to set up nine government secondary schools in six districts, the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education could not complete the construction of a single school yet thanks to land acquisition hiccups and red tape.
Of the schools, the construction work of three has not started at all, show project documents.
Aiming at ensuring quality education, the school project was taken up in 2018 at a cost of Tk464 crore with a deadline of June 2021. The deadline was extended to June 2023 later. Project officials now say the work might need another time extension.
The project includes two schools each in Chattogram, Rajshahi and Rangpur divisional cities; and one each in Mymensingh, Joypurhat and Sreemangal. The seven schools in Chattogram, Rajshahi, Rangpur and Mymensingh will be 10-storey, and the Joypurhat and Sreemangal schools will be 6-storey.
According to the project documents, the education facilities will have modern infrastructures and educational materials.
Apart from adequate classrooms, the schools will have modern ICT lab, science lab, library, multipurpose hall room, prayer room, visitor's room, BNCC and girls guides room, first aid room, mid-day meal room and seminar room.
The educational institutions will also have laptops with Internet connections, computers and computer accessories, multimedia projectors, books, sports equipment, scientific equipment and furniture.
According to the secondary and higher education directorate, it took two years to acquire the land for two schools in Chattogram's Patenga. Officials said the two schools are being set up in Patenga – the southern end of the city – as suitable lands were not found elsewhere.
Of the two schools, construction of one has started while the second one is under the tendering process.
Currently, there are ten government schools in the port city. Despite Chattogram's population rising manyfold in the past 50 years, no new public secondary school has been established.
A private school in the metropolis was nationalised last year. Still, there are no public secondary schools in Bahaddarhat, Bakalia and Oxygen areas in the northern part of the city.
In Rajshahi, Choto Bangram and Boro Bangram of Boalia have been designated for setting up two schools. Construction of one school has started while tender has been floated for the second time for the second one.
Rajshahi city currently has six public secondary schools, which were established before 1971. Two model schools and colleges were nationalised in Rajshahi last year.
Joypurhat school has the construction up to the second-storey completed so far. The district has three public secondary schools.
In Rangpur, the schools will be in Kamalkasta and Uttam area. Construction of one educational institution has begun as the construction work of the second one is yet to begin.
Currently, there are only two government secondary schools in Rangpur city, which were established before 1971.
In Mymensingh, the school construction by the Dhaka bypass road has begun recently. There are three public secondary schools in Mymensingh city, which were established before the country's independence.
In Sreemangal, the school is being built inside the Bangladesh Tea Research Institute premises. Currently, there is only one government secondary school in this upazila.
Rayhana Taslim, director of the school construction project, said land acquisition for the project was "very tricky".
"Besides, schools in divisional cities require numerous permissions from several authorities. These have eventually delayed the project," the project director told The Business Standard.
The official said though the financial progress of the project is 35%-40%, the actual physical progress is around 50%. "It may not be completed within the scheduled time of June 2023. It may take another year more."