Since schools have shut down, there has been a significant reduction in the total time students spend studying from 10 hours to merely 2 hours a day, a staggering drop by 80 percent, according to a recent study by the Brac Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), Brac University.
In a webinar hosted on Thursday, BIGD presented these alarming findings.With schools closed all across the country, one would intuitively think that the time students used to spend in classrooms would now be devoted to self-studying.
But findings from the study show that self-study hours have in fact declined significantly since the school closure.Different remedial measures of virtual learning to make up for the school hours have also not been very effective.
The study shows that only 16% of the students watch educational programs like Ghore Boshe Shikhi and Amar Ghorey Amar School on television (TV).
Moreover, of the small number of students who do watch these educational TV programs, a large percentage do not find them helpful. Furthermore, the percentage of students who watch educational programs on the internet is even lower—just 1%.
Meanwhile, on the one hand, just as students’ study hours have declined; on the other, the rate of child labor has climbed shockingly high.
Findings suggest that after schools shut down, the percentage of children who spend more than two hours a day working for the family’s economic needs has increased from 4% to 16%.
In addition, the percentage of children who work two hours or more a day doing household chores has also increased from 1% to 13%.Though these findings are primarily from rural areas, the students in urban slums also present a similar picture.
Dr Imran Matin, Executive Director, Brac Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), Brac University said the country’s core strength has always been community-based innovative approaches – and therefore we must utilize this core strength to tackle the many challenges of the pandemic – be it in designing social protection programs or in generating digital innovations in education.
“We must consider handholding approaches or community-based hybrid approaches enabled through NGO-based initiatives and government policies to drive digital innovations in the education sector, and tackle first-generation learner constraints that are present in rural households of Bangladesh.”
Dr Niaz Asadullah said the learning landscape in terms of time spent in studying by children in Bangladesh, has collapsed from 10 hours to 2 hours.He said rural children are now spending double the time behind household chores.
“However, the rise in time dedicated to non-learning activities is not enough to compensate for the collapse in time dedicated to learning activities – in fact, 6 hours or 50% of waking hours after school closure was found ‘unaccounted for’ by our research. In our next phase of the research, we will further delve deep into this issue.”
The education system in Bangladesh has always struggled to ensure quality education for 40 million children enrolled in schools.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this learning crisis as all educational institutions across the country have been closed for over two months with no immediate plans for reopening.
To learn how the children in Bangladesh are coping with school closure and if the remedial measures of virtual learning are working, Dr. Niaz Asadullah, Professor of Economics at the University of Malaya; Anindita Bhattacharjee, Senior Research Associate; Montajina Tasnim, Research Associate; and Farzin Mumtahena, Research Intern at BIGD surveyed over 5,000 students from urban slums and rural regions across Bangladesh.Dr. Asadullah presented the key findings from the study in the webinar.
Rasheda K Chowdhury, Executive Director of Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE); Prof Dr Syed Md Golam Faruk, Director General, Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education; Dr Shafiqul Islam, Director of BRAC’s Education Program; and Dr Mohammad Mahboob Morshed, Assistant Professor of the BRAC Institute of Educational Development (BIED) also spoke at the webinar as panelists.
The webinar was moderated by the Executive Director of BIGD, Dr. Imran Matin, who closed the event emphasizing the importance of education to keep the nation’s young minds sharp and the necessity of evidence-based policies to address this crisis and minimize the negative impact that months of schools closure due to COVID-19 can have on education, learning, and future earning potential.