Visually impaired students are yet to get their textbooks with half the educational calendar already past in stark contrast to a textbook-distribution fanfare that marked the first day of the year in other schools.
Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid had given
one textbook to each of the 30 institutions teaching visually impaired children
at a programme in Dhaka in April.
But this year, with six months about to
pass, these children are still in the dark about their text
Visually impaired children need Braille books that have texts in
the form of arranged dots that children read with feel and
Guardians say this delay is not particularly new as there is a
perennial shortage of these books.
This time, however, there was a
promise of difference with National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB)
introducing 104 new books at the primary and secondary levels.
officials blamed the board for the delay, saying the ‘soft copies’ of the new
books arrived late.
Khilkhet Jan-e-Alam Government High School seventh
grade student Asif Karim Patwari Rupam, a visually impaired child, told
bdnews24.com he was yet to “smell the fragrance of new books”.
গত এপ্রিলে ৩০টি দৃষ্টি প্রতিবন্ধী শিক্ষাপ্রতিষ্ঠানের জন্য এক সেট করে বই বিতরণ করেন শিক্ষামন্ত্রী।
a book festival on the first day of the year. Everyone was so happy to get new
books. But I did not get mine. My half-yearly exams are almost over.”
mother Ruma Laila said she had a hard time getting two Bangali and English
books. “I got them from abroad. As for the others, I am reading them out to him.
This is how he is preparing for the exams.”
bdnews24.com found that there
was one specialised school for visually impaired children in each of the five
divisions and one integrated school in each of the 64 districts run by the
Department of Social Services.
Twenty-eight of these primary schools got
textbooks barring those for mathematics and religion. None of the secondary
schools got any. Private institutions are not entitled to government
Jahangir Alam, a teacher of the Dhaka specialised school in
the capital’s Khilkhet area, said his school got primary textbooks for Bangali,
English and Social Science. “Maths and religion books are not ready yet, that is
why we did not get them.”
The scene in Chittagong’s Muradpur government
school for the visually impaired was largely similar. Some of the primary school
books had arrived but there was none for the 27 secondary
Principal Abdul Samad sounded dejected. He told bdnews24.com
that they “might get the books next year”.
Mirpur’s Baptist Mission
Integrated School is one specialised school for girls in Dhaka. Its Principal,
Mamata Bairagi, said many of the private schools for the visually challenged
order their own Braille books.
“But now we are struggling. There are so
many new books,” she said.
Nazia Hassan Mayesha, a ninth-grade student of
this school, seemed frustrated. “This is happening always. I try very hard to
hear what they read out and remember. But how can you memorise creative
“Those who can see, get so many other aids other than
textbooks. But we are not even provided with records (cassette player or
Rangpur’s ‘Right to Survive’ school has 50
students, but it teaches only up to only grade three.
Its teacher Rubi
Akhter, who is visually impaired herself, said the school does not get any
government books. “The Department of Social Services prepared a list in the
beginning of the year. But there was no word from it since then. We have to keep
going this way day after day.”
Parvin Majumder, Coordinator of Jatiya
Pratibandhi Unnayan Forum, an organisation that works with impaired children,
said much the same thing. “We thought this time at least private institutions
will get government textbooks.”
Savar’s Salvation Army Integrated
Childrens’ Centre Resource Teacher and Trainer Zakir Hossain said mathematics
was among the government primary books for the visually impaired. “There are no
trained professionals in the Tongi Government Braille Press to print
Tora Biswas, the school’s principal, said they were ready with
money, but no books were available. “We are working twice as hard to prepare our
students without books. But it is hard on the children.”
An official of
the Department of Social Services said on the condition of anonymity that
primary-level books had been given to integrated schools in 28 districts, but
they were still working with the secondary books.
The official conceded
that the board had delayed the ‘soft copies’. “That is why they are not yet
ready. Producing Braille books is a complex, time-consuming process. It will
take at least another two months to have these books ready.”
the Department of Social Services Director General Nasima Begum doubted that
those who missed out on the books may not have been registered. “I am looking
into it. We have provided whatever was sought NCTB.”
institutions, she said they would have to first apply to given the government an
indication of the overall requirement. “Or else, we might be saddled with extra
Private institutions such as Assistants for Blind Children and
Centre for Disability in Development produce and export Braille books, but they
are rather costly.
A Child Sight Foundation study shows most of the
visually impaired children are from the poorer classes.
Brajagopal Saha said one set of Braille books for three subjects of Grade-1 cost
Similarly, a set for Grade-2 (three subjects) costs Tk 1,550;
for Grade-3 (six subjects) Tk 4,500, Grade-4 (six subjects) Tk 6,400 and Grade-5
(six subjects) Tk 7,900.
Saha said they were not given the ‘soft copy’ of
the secondary books despite ‘repeated’ requests. “That is why we cannot produce