Saturday, July 13, 2024

Land grab hampers academic activities

Govt Pry Schools
Land grab hampers academic activities
29 schools face problems in capital
Encroachment on land of many government primary schools in Dhaka, and also in outlying areas, continue to hamper academic activities, leaving students with little or
no space for classroom teaching and morning assemblies.
Officials overseeing schools and teachers said that in many cases land of such schools and also classrooms were in the possession of influential quarters sand
government and private organisations.
This has held back government agencies overseeing school buildings from taking up development programmes although fund has been allocated for the task, Local
Government Engineering Department officials said.
The primary education directorate has, however, failed to produce any data on such encroachment. ‘We cannot give the exact picture of such encroachment as there are
37,700 government primary schools in the country,’ Faruque Jalil, director (planning) of the directorate, said.
The Dhaka district primary education office on January 23 could name only 29 such government schools in the capital Dhaka based on reports from field officials. There
are 295 government primary school in Dhaka.
The office said that land of such schools was in possession of slums, the Water Supply and Sewerage Authority, social welfare organisations, mosques, non-government
high schools, private law colleges, clubs, community centres, land donors, and local thugs.
A mosque has encroached on a third of the land of government primary school at Madartek for the dwelling of the imam of the mosque.
The city corporation has set up a public toilet for a nearby kitchen market and the supply water agency has installed a pump in the school ground, leaving students a
narrow passage between the market and the pump to enter the institution.
‘We sing the national anthem in classrooms,’ said Sumi, a Class V student of the school.
‘We are faced with classroom shortage. The government has allocated funds for school expansion. But the work has been stalled for years because of the encroachment.
The school pays taxes for the total land area of 33 decimals,’ the school’s headteacher Hasina Aktar told New Age.
The government has allocated Tk 60 lakh for the development of Kazifari Government Primary School at Mirpur, but LGED officials said the could not begin the work as
slums sprawls on 1.69 acres of land of the school, an official said.
‘We are facing similar problems in government primary schools in Dhaka, Chittagong, Rajshahi and other cities where land price is high,’ he added.
The Kazifari school now has only 16 decimal of land in its possession, which is not enough for academic activities, an Dhaka district primary education official said.
‘We have requested the district administration to conduct a demolition drive.’
The district administration said that it had no immediate plans for such a drive. ‘More than 250 slums are there. Demolition drives might create serious social
problem. We are waiting for the relocation of the slums,’ Dhaka’s deputy commissioner Sheikh Afzal Ali said.
‘The deputy commissioner’s saying so is a crime,’ educationalist Abdullah Abu Sayeed said. ‘The school land must be reclaimed immediately.’
‘Such statements [as the deputy commissioner said] encourages grabbers,’ Muntassir Mamoon, a professor of Dhaka University, said.
The government has also not taken action on ‘humanitarian grounds’ against stranded Pakistanis who have lived on the land of Shaheen Government Primary School at
Mohammadpur since the early 1970s.
Slum dwellers have occupied most of the land of Sher-e-Bangla Government Primary School and Brahmacharan Government Primary School at Demra.
WASA has, according to the district primary education officer, installed water pumps at 12 government primary schools. The agency’s public relations department has,
however, said that they installed pumps in five schools on permission.
‘Social welfare organisations such as Bangladesh Mahila Samity and Khelaghar have encroached on the land of Gendaria Mahila Samity Government Primary School and the
Bangladesh Girl Guides Association has encroached on the land of Samajik Shikkha Kendra Government Primary School,’ a district primary education official said.
The two-storey non-government Motijheel Colony School has been set up on 21 decimals of the land of Motijheel Government Primary School. Routine classes at least at 11
government primary schools in Dhaka are hampered as local influential quarters ‘forcibly’ run non-government high schools on campuses of government primary schools.
‘Such activities began in the late 1980s,’ an official said.
A non-government law college is run in the classrooms of the Dhanmondi Government Primary School, the official said.
Even donors of the land have set up shops and erected buildings and other structures in at least seven government primary schools, according to the district primary
eduction office.
‘After land prices had increased in the city, donors and their heirs started claiming their possession. A donor lives on the first floor of the Banglabazar Government
Primary School,’ the official said.
Shyamal Kanti Ghosh, the director general of the directorate of primary education, said that he had asked district primary education officers to collect data on the
land of government primary schools across the country.
‘We will demarcate the land and erect boundary walls in schools by roads,’ he said.

Courtesy of New Age

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