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Although many children die from drowning every year due to their lack of swimming ability, government’s measure to teach children swimming is inadequate across the country.
Outside Dhaka, government has only 12 swimming pools in 11 districts, where children are imparted training to learn swimming, said Abdur Rahman, joint secretary of the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
There are two pools in Rajshahi and one each in Bogra, Barisal, Chapainababganj, Jessore, Munshiganj, Pabna, Mymensingh, Sylhet, Chandpur and Rajbari, he informed.
But children of other districts are deprived of government facilities to learn swimming. In some places, District Sports Association (DSA) temporarily hire pond to teach children swimming, but the initiative does not continue.
Among the 12 swimming pools, some are in shabby condition due to poor maintenance and negligence of the authority concerned, report our district correspondents.
Responding to this, Abdur Rahman said, “I have heard that one or two pools are in bad condition. We will look into it and we are trying to ensure proper maintenance of all the pools across the country.”
Bangladesh Health and Injury Survey, 2005 revealed that drowning is the leading cause of death for children aged 1 to 17 in Bangladesh, with approximately 18,000 children dying each year. Among them, over 12,000 children are aged 1 to 4, and around 5,000 drowning occur amongst the older age group of 5 to 17.
The study also disclosed that there is a reciprocal relationship between drowning and swimming ability.
Our Barisal correspondent reports: The district’s swimming pool has been remaining out of order since it was constructed in 1997.
“The swimming pool has been lying abandoned for last sixteen years due to technical faults. Cracks were found inside the pool after inauguration,” said Alamgir Hossain Alo, secretary of Barisal divisional sports association.
Bogra correspondent reports: The lone swimming pool in the town has been remaining closed for last one month due to unpaid electricity bills.
However, the officials concerned said they would re-start the pool next year after paying the due electricity bills.
Pabna Correspondent reports: Although the Pabna DSA arranges training to teach children swimming, but the district’s lone swimming pool located at the stadium is affected with many problems.
“There is no water treatment management in the pool. The iron sediment has destroyed the tiles of the pool. We have applied to the ministry for arranging water treatment plant, but no fund has been allocated for it,” Said Rejaul Hossain Badsha, convener of swimming unit of Pabna DSA.
In the swimming pool, 40 students take lessons of swimming everyday in three shifts, he informed.
Meanwhile, officials of many District Sports Associations (DSA) blamed their higher authorities for not constructing swimming pools and not drumming up the swimming training programme, despite repeated request.
Talking to The Daily Star, the ministry’s joint secretary Abdur Rahman said, “We have plan to construct more swimming pools in different districts in near future, while procedure of constructing pools in a few districts are already underway.”
Our Chittagong correspondent reports: Children of the district are deprived of learning swimming due to lack of proper water bodies, swimming pools and training facilities.
General Secretary of Chittagong DSA AJM Nasiruddin said, “We have sent a number of letters to National Sports Council to build a swimming pool in the port city but have not received any positive reply from them.”
Tangail correspondent reports: There is no swimming pool and as a result the children are deprived of the facility to learn swimming.
K Hasan Firoz, secretary of Tangail DSA said they have applied to the Jatiya Krira Parishad several times to construct a swimming pool in the district town but it has not responded.
Rangamati correspondent reports: Despite site selection, Rangamati DSA could not construct a swimming pool in last over 17 years due to lack of fund. The DSA only organizes swimming competition in between November and December every year, said DSA officials.
Kushtia correspondent reports: A project of Tk 7.50 crore remains under process to construct a swimming pool.
Our Patuakhali Correspondent reports: The district council is constructing a Shishu Park filling up the district’s lone swimming pool located at the district town. Where now the children learn swimming?
However, in absence of swimming pools and other facilities, DSA in many districts only organises swimming competition once annually, but it does not contribute to teaching the children swimming.