Bangladesh confirms help for Church schools
Special committee to be set up to supervise their development
“The present government is working hard to ensure good education at the primary level because it’s the base for further education,” said Mohammad Motahar Hossain, state minister for primary and mass education.
Hossain on Jan. 21 assured Church officials and local Church-run school heads at Biroidakuni Primary and High School in northeastern Mymensingh diocese of support.
A group of Catholics and school heads had requested assistance from the minister in developing the infrastructure and management system in Catholic primary schools.
“We’ll set up a special committee of Church representatives to supervise developments for missionary schools,” said the education minister during his school management monitoring program visit.
Promod Mankin, Catholic state minister for cultural affairs, said many teachers in Church-run schools perform their duties without pay, while other teachers receive little payment.
“Many of them get 1,500-2,500 taka (US$21-36) which is lower than a garment worker’s wage. Even though Christians are a little backward in terms of socio-economic and political activities, they are well ahead of the literacy rate,” said the tribal Garo minister.
Bangladesh Catholic Education Board (BCEB) secretary Holy Cross Father Benjamin Costa said the present government has to do more work with Church-run schools.
It is difficult for Church-run schools asking for assistance to register and follow prescribed government regulations, said the principal of Notre Dame College in Dhaka.
“If registered, the government will not allow us to use a number of school premises as makeshift churches and we won’t be able to appoint qualified teachers,” he added.
“Today we suffer from lack of freedom and low payment even though we are qualified teachers,” said Justin Jarin Drong, headmaster of Biroidakuni Primary School.
While Church-run schools provide free primary school level education, they do not receive government allowances as state schools. There are 287 schools and three colleges run by the Catholic Church in Bangladesh.
According to the 2007 Catholic Directory of Bangladesh, there are 400,000 Catholics out of a total of 150 million people.
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