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Although enrolment of teagarden children in primary schools has witnessed progress over the years, but their high dropout rate at the secondary level is still a major challenge to expansion of child education.
Poor financial condition, lack of proper schooling facilities at high school level and lack of awareness of the parents are main reasons for such high level of dropout at the secondary level.
Puron Urang, an office assistant of Hayderganj High School said that although the total number of students from class-V to X in the school is 675, only around 26 students are from the families of tea garden workers.
He said that students of primary school receive free education till class five but then they have to pay a certain amount of money to continue their studies in high school. “That’s the main reason why they drop out at high school,” argued Urang.
In their school, students of every class have to give Tk 600 as admission fee. The monthly fees are Tk 50 for class VI and VII, Tk 60 for class-VIII and Tk 90 for class-IX and X.
Mintu Chandra Bepari, area manager of BRAC in Moulavibazar, said there are 2093 primary schools in Moulavibazar — 692 are government primary schools, 308 private registered primary schools, 276 kindergarten schools and 817 other schools.
The number of students in primary schools is 2,98,498 of which 1,50,389 are male and 1,48,069 female, he said.
A total of 22,012 students are studying in BRAC schools, most of which are running in tea gardens, he added.
On the other hand, the number of high schools in Moulavibazar is 186 (3 government and 183 private) where 1,49,282 students are studying–83,326 female and 65,956 male.
Though BRAC does not run any high schools in the area, it conducts various programmes to encourage the primary students to continue their studies at the secondary level, he said.
Rajesh Goala, head clerk of Razanagar Tea Garden in Kulaura upazila said around 60 to 70 percent children of their workers’ families go to primary schools.
“The workers who don’t send their children in fact lack awareness to do so,” he said.
There are 50 workers in the tea garden, and a total of 150 children, said Rajesh.
Chandon Rikiyason, son of Sri Krishon (Razanagar Tea Garden), had passed class-V but failed to continue his studies for poor financial condition of his father. Just after completing class V, he started to work in a wholesale market to help his family.
Suny Kurmi, who used to stand first in her class every year, had to discontinue her study after class V due to the same reason.
“I have always dreamt of studying in a university, but how can I do so, when the financial condition of my family is so poor?” said Suny, whose family works in Sanchorra Tea Garden under Kamolganj upazila.
Suny’s two sisters also had to stop their studies in class-III as they had to do work as a proxy for their mother in the tea garden due to her illness.