Beaming with joy, sixth-grader Sinthia Afrin ran to her mother saying, "Mom, mom, look how many new books I have got. I love new books and I like to read."
Her mother Tania Afrin, also with a smile on her face, embraced her girl and pulled her onto her lap with the set of new books.
This is a snippet from the festive atmosphere that was created on the premises of the Motijheel Ideal School and College in the capital on Wednesday, the first day of the new year 2020.
However, this was not an isolated incident. Such occasions of happiness were seen at every primary and secondary level school and madrasa across the country.
More than four crore schoolchildren started the new year with the refreshing smell of new textbooks.
Tania Afrin said, "I have bought many things for my daughter but I have never found such a smile on her face. She is so thrilled after receiving the books."
"As a guardian, I am also very happy because my daughter has got new books on the first day of the new year.
"I would like to thank the government for performing such a great job every year," she said.
Shafein, an eighth-grader at Willes Little Flower School and College in the capital, also expressed joy after receiving the new books.
"I was waiting with great eagerness to get the new textbooks. I am very happy now that I have got them," he said.
Md Sohel, headmaster of Ganda Girls High School, told The Business Standard, "I see smiles on the faces of all my students on a specific day (on the first day of the new year). It feels very good.
"But such situations were rare before 2010, the year that textbooks started getting distributed for free at both the primary and the secondary levels. I thank the government for giving us the scope to see the smiling faces of our children."
Professor Emeritus Serajul Islam Chowdhury said, "I have seen many smiling faces of children. They were very excited. I will never forget it."
Terming the distribution of textbook on the first day of the year as a great initiative, he said, "The government, especially the education ministry, deserves applause for doing such a great job."
The National Textbook Festival where textbooks are distributed for free among all students from grade one to ten across the country began on Wednesday.
Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni along with Deputy Education Minister Mohibul Hasan Chowdhury inaugurated the festival at Savar Adhar Chandra Government High School.
"The children's smiles give me joy and their innocent faces encourage me to do more," said the education minister.
Some 35,31,54,638 textbooks will be distributed among 4,27,52,198 pre-primary, primary, Ebtedayee, Secondary, Dakhil, Dakhil (Vocational), and Secondary School Certificate (Vocational) students.
Of them, 10,54,02,375 books will be given to primary school students, and 24,77,42,179 books to secondary level students.
The state minister for Primary and Mass Education, Md Zakir Hossain, opened the festival by distributing new textbooks at Dhaka University Central Playground.
"Free textbook distribution is one of the greatest successes of the incumbent government. The new books encourage students to come to school," said the state minister.
Primary and Mass Education Secretary Md Akram-Al-Hossain said, "We have been successful in decreasing the number of school dropouts through the distribution of new textbooks. Now we are concentrating on quality education".
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina formally inaugurated the free textbook distribution programme for the academic year 2020 on Tuesday.
She formally opened the free textbook distribution programme by presenting books of the primary and the secondary levels to students at a function at her official residence Ganabhaban.