The rate of attendance among girls was higher than that of the boys since the schools reopened after a long break caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, revealed a recent study on school-goers.
The study finds that absenteeism was 16%-37% for boys and 14%-35% for girls in the primary schools, and 34%-45% for boys and 28%-41% for girls in the secondary schools.
The research report, prepared under the "Safe Back to School Campaign" by 21 national and international organisations, was released at a programme organised at a hotel in Dhaka on Wednesday.
The researchers identified school-goers' involvement in economic activities, child marriage, migration of families to other places, shifting to other educational institutes – especially Qawmi madrasah, and loss of interest in the study as the primary reasons for absenteeism.
Further, the parents, teachers and education officers said financial crisis, uncertain future, increase in problems in family, inability to attend online classes, and difficulties in understanding lessons caused absenteeism.
The researchers found that 74% of the students wear masks in schools and 72% maintain social distance in the classrooms.
Regarding the school-goers mental health, the surveyors said the students felt irritated, lonely, and isolated during the lockdown. After the schools were reopened, the students faced problems such as learning difficulties, difficulties in understanding lessons and challenges in mingling with others.
The Safe Back to School Campaign was launched on 10 February 2021 to bring children back to the classroom safely.
The researchers recommended providing financial support to the students to bring back the children to schools. To bring the married girls back to school, they recommended the teachers to talk with their parents and in-laws.
They have also called for a strict implementation of health safety measures and support for students' mental health.
To recover the learning gap, the researchers suggested the schools arrange complementary remedial classes.
The report was based on a three-week survey at 328 primary and secondary schools in 17 districts in the country's seven divisions.
Addressing yesterday's programme as the chief guest, Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni said 65% of the students attended the online classes during the pandemic, while 93% of the students completed their assignments.
However, there was a little bit of a learning gap and more than one academic session might be needed to recover it, she said.
"We want all the students, including the girls who got married, back to the school. We will provide them with all the support for bringing them back to school," said the education minister.
She also said the government is developing a programme to train two lakh teachers to alleviate the problems regarding the students' mental health. Besides, there is a plan to employ two psychology teachers at each school.