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Although Meena Books gained much popularity among the children, distribution of these books remains suspended for the last five years.
The government with the support of UNICEF and financial support from multi donor agencies under the Intensive District Approach to Education for All (IDEAL) and the Primary Education Development Programme (PEDP)-I produced and distributed Meena Books from 1993 to 2007 at all the government and non-government primary schools across the county.
With the end of the project, distribution of these books became suspended, said UNICEF and government officials.
“Distribution of these books remains suspended because of unavailability of fund,” said Faruk Jalil, Director (Policy & Operations) of the Directorate of Primary Education.
However, the government and donor agencies have agreed to incorporate the issue in the ‘Third Primary Education Development Program (PEDP-III) that started from 2012 and is to be continued till 2016.
Under this project, distribution of Meena books is likely to start again soon, said officials concerned.
The main aim of distribution of these books was to introduce joyful learning materials to make the children aware about different social issues and to develop reading skills, said Mira Mitra, Communication for Development Specialist of UNICEF Bangladesh.
Children are the primary audience of Meena materials, and behaviours of young children continue to develop when they enter into the education systems, either in pre-primary or primary schools. These books helped to reach a large number of children through the primary education system. The books are powerful communication tools and have tremendous potential to improve reading and comprehension of children and at the same time to learn about social issues that are relevant to ensuring their rights. Moreover, children read these books with pleasure and enthusiasm, she added.
Talking to The Daily Star, Rokeya Begum, headmaster of Kagojipara Government Primary School at Munshiganj, said the books were helpful to children because they could learn many things from these books.
The learning issues included washing hands with soap before taking food and after coming out from toilet, stop discrimination to girl child, child marriage and dowry.
“I saw in classroom that children were fond of these books, and as they love photos of Meena, Mithu and Raju, they could learn through seeing these photos,” she said.
Noted child education expert Dr. Manzoor Ahmed said the contents of Meena books were developed in very simple and easily-understood language with colourful pictures. That is why children got interested to read the books.
“I think distribution of theses books should be continued,” he added.
It is also now time to think how these materials can be made available to rural children of Bangladesh who do not have access to good reading materials.