Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today called for a concerted global action to ensure a safe and secure environment for students during the ongoing coronavirus crisis as it (education) is one of the important sectors deeply affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Education is one of the important sectors deeply affected by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic which has caused widespread closure of educational institutions across the world. So, a concerted global action is needed to ensure a safe and secure environment for students," she said.
The prime minister was delivering a video message on the first-ever observance of the "International Day to Protect Education from Attack" on virtual platform.
The day is being observed aiming to shed light on the issue of attacks on education and help more marginalized children and youth in conflict-affected countries to have access to quality education opportunities.
In her pre-recorded message, Sheikh Hasina simultaneously underscored revamping international cooperation to protect education in every situation, saying concerted efforts would surely lead the countries to the desired future.
"On this auspicious occasion, let's commit to revamping international cooperation to protect education in every situation …our concerted efforts would surely lead us to the future we want," she said.
The premier said though the Covid-19 crisis has shown the weakness of the existing education system, Bangladesh has taken various measures to offset the pandemic impact on the education sector.
"We don't remain idle although educational institutions remained closed. We have launched televised and online learning for the students," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the government is continuing monetary support for the students, while special measures have been taken so that students are engaged in studies.
The prime minister said her government has heavily invested in education sector as it attaches highest importance to the field.
"Our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman prioritized education as an important tool for the country's development. Guided by his vision, we have heavily invested in education," she said.
In this context, Sheikh Hasina elaborated a host of measures undertaken by the government to improve education and create a safe environment for every student, including children with special needs.
She said the government has been distributing textbooks among students up to secondary level since 2010, while stipends are being provided to more than 20.3 million students upto higher education level.
"Besides, girls' education upto higher secondary level has been made free," she said.
The premier said over 26,193 primary schools and 685 high schools have been nationalized, while 4, 361 educational institutions have been brought under Monthly Payment Order (MPO).
Sheikh Hasina said all these measures along with other interventions like gender-sensitive approach, school feeding programme, establishment of primary schools at almost every village and ward, ICT education have been showing tangible benefits.
"As a result, net enrolment rate rose to 97.74 percent in 2019, and literacy rate increased to 74 percent," she said.
The prime minister said the government has also taken steps to modernize madrasha education.
At the outset of her speech, she congratulated all on the first-ever observance of the International Day to Protect Education from Attack and appreciated Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, the chairperson of Education Above All Foundation and UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Advocate.
President of Dominican Republic Luis Abinader, UN Secretary GeneralAntonio Guterres, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Qatar Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Chairperson of Education Above All Foundation and UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Advocate Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, President of the 74th UN General Assembly Prof Tijjani Muhammad Bande, Belgium Foreign Affairs and Defence Minister Phillipe Goffin also spoke on the occasion.
President if the International Committee of the Red Cross Peter Maurer, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet Jeria, Founder of the Graga Machel Trust and UN SDG Advocate Graca Machel, CEO of Global Partnership for Education Alice Albright, UN SDG Advocate Edward Ndopu, Prosecutor of International Criminal Court Fatou Bensouda also delivered video messages.
Besides, Nobel laureates Kailash Satyarthi and Tawakkul Karman, CEO and Founder of Barefoot Foundation Shakira, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador David Beckham spoke on virtual platform.