Most schools in the cities do not have playgrounds. How do you think the government should address the problem?

Construction materials and equipment used in the construction of a flyover are kept in Dhupkhola playground in Dhaka, leaving no space for people to play. — Sanaul Haque

Construction materials and equipment used in the construction of a flyover are kept in Dhupkhola playground in Dhaka, leaving no space for people to play. — Sanaul Haque

1
IN SPITE of charging substantial fees from learners, a small number of schools in urban areas have playgrounds that are essential to keep the learners in sound health. The school ‘industry’ has grown and flourished in almost every city and small towns speedily, especially in the past couple of decades. Sports and games play an important role in maintaining a student’s physical fitness and awakening the spirit of sportsmanship in him/her. Sports and games can also ensure their constructive use of time. Students can look upon sports as a recreational activity when they are away from their hectic academic schedules.
Due to low standard of education in public schools, people prefer sending their children to private schools. However, about 65 per cent of these schools are unable to fulfil the expectations of parents. One can go as far as to say that the condition of public schools is somewhat better than private schools as their campuses are built on vast pieces of land, quite unlike private schools operating in small buildings or even houses. Most of these schools do not have playgrounds due to the lack of space. About 65 per cent of these schools are operating in small houses and, thus, unable to accommodate playgrounds.
This situation has forced several school authorities to use parks and residential streets as playgrounds, which is creating problems for the residents. Schools without playgrounds, therefore, should not be allowed to function. Despite charging heavy tuition fees from parents, most schools have failed to provide facilities for sports and extracurricular activities for students.
Unfortunately, the government authorities seem unwilling to take action against such schools. The government alone should not be blamed; rather the school authorities should be blamed as most private school authorities have not arranged playgrounds for students at schools. It also indicates that heads of these schools are unaware of the importance of physical training and games for students. Students play games on playgrounds with their school fellows during any break. And if there is no playground inside or adjacent to schools, they would be compelled to play on roads or streets.
It should be mandatory for any school administration to arrange cricket, hockey, football, basketball, volleyball and gymnastics competitions and physical training sessions for the students at school; however, such activities are rarely taking place. The government should take proper steps to solve this problem.
Md Hasan Uddin Tareque
Bangladesh University of Business and Technology

2
CHILDREN are the future leaders of our nation. In order to become so, they need to be nurtured and groomed in the way that they have a balanced and healthy life. To make it happen, they need to be involved in extracurricular activities, besides their studies. However, the irony of today’s growing population and digitisation is that they are more engrossed with indoor games with iPad, laptop and so on and so forth because there is almost no playground available in Dhaka city. High-rise buildings are everywhere that we get to see. Along with this, the independent houses which used to have gardens decades ago are now becoming targets of the real estate agencies. As most of the schools do not have playgrounds, health problems such as, obesity, lethargy and aloofness are afflicting our children’s body and mind. The social network sites are actually making us unsocial day by day.
Children get tired very easily if they have to take stairs as they are habituated with elevators. These unhealthy practices lead to various diseases, such as, cardiac problems, blood pressure, diabetes etc. The age doesn’t matter here.
Therefore, we need to be active to resolve the problem in the following manners:
1.     Parents must be aware of the effects of such practices by their kids.
2.     Permission for using land for school’s purposes should be granted by the government only after getting the assurance that the school in question has a playground.
3.     Real estate companies must be given conditions from the government that they will keep enough space to have garden areas.
4.     Children need to be made aware of the benefits of extracurricular activities and should be encouraged by their parents and teachers to be involved in these.
Nowadays, people are again going to their villages even for short holidays just to get themselves refreshed and for their kids to enjoy the nature and play in the open fields. We must not let our children be afflicted with diseases, and make sure that they are being brought up in a healthy manner.
Farah Naz Haque
Head of academics and HR
Cardiff International School Dhaka
Dhanmondi, Dhaka

3
IT IS a matter of concern that most schools of Dhaka city have no playground. The students of these schools are deprived of playing outdoor games. They are also deprived of annual sports of their own school because of lack of playgrounds.
Once I asked a student studying in a private school in Dhaka which school she reads in. She answered, ‘I don’t read in a school. I read in a house.’ I thought that she was joking. But instantly I could find that she was not. A small child understands that a school is not a complete school without a playground. It can be compared with a multi-storied building (house). Almost always we can recognise a school or college by seeing a signboard before it.
According to Rabindranath Tagore, a school should be established in an open place, with peace and tranquillity, where students will get fresh air and fresh mind. But most schools in Dhaka, aiming at maximising profits, have no quality. Dhaka is an over-populated city. Over-population of Dhaka has created such a situation. Some avaricious people take this opportunity and start school business.
To get rid of this situation, some changes need to be brought about in society. Public awareness is mandatory. The government and other organisations should work hand in hand to establish complete schools. I still believe that it is possible to give our children complete schools with playgrounds.
Abu Sayeed Mia
Govt Rajendra College, Faridpur

4
TODAY’S children are the future backbone of our nation. So, they need to have a healthy mental and physical growth. In this connection, playgrounds play an important role in developing a child into an intelligent and healthy citizen. Outdoor games always help children to know about their qualities and weaknesses properly.
Unfortunately, for a couple of decades, most children haven’t got any opportunity to come into the lap of nature because of scarcity of playgrounds. In urban areas, it is difficult to find any playground or a green field for playing. Whenever anyone finds an open space, s/he selects it to build multi-storied buildings for accommodation or for corporate office or for industries. So, today’s children take computer games and television as their only means of refreshment.
In urban areas, schools, colleges and other educational institutions can provide high standard of education for their students but unfortunately cannot provide a green field for playing, as most of these institutions are running their activities in rented houses.
It is very important for a child to play outdoor games and get involved in sports while studying at school. Psychologists have given different theories to explain the importance of sports in children’s lives. These theories include ‘Surplus Energy theory’ by Herbert Spencer (1875), a philosopher, and ‘Pre-exercise theory’ by Karl Groos (1898), a German writer.
In Principles of Psychology (1855), Spencer said, ‘Play is the result of surplus energy that exists because the young are freed from the business of self-preservation through the activities of their parents. Energy finds its release in the aimless exuberant activities of play.’
This means that playing helps a child to remove his/her mental pressure of everyday activities.
Groos in The Play of Animals and the Play of Man (1989) presented different views on playing. He said, ’Play is the necessary practice for behaviours that are essential to later survival. The playful fighting of animals or the rough and tumble play of children are essentially the practice of skills that will later aid their survival.’
This means that playing is an exercise, which helps a child’s bodily movements for the development of his/her skills and capabilities necessary in later life.
Now, the problem lies with the urban areas where there are lots of educational institutions but less or no playgrounds. If the government solves the problem our children can enjoy their childhood in fresh air to develop themselves as strong, healthy and intelligent citizens. The steps that should be taken are as follows:
The government can order every school to build its own school campus with a large space for playground. It will not permit anybody to run any school in case of a failure to do this.
The school administration of each school must take necessary steps to make space for a playground on the school campus for its students.
Parents and teachers should inspire their children to play outdoor games if they have a playground in the area.
The apartment builders should make it a point to build a green playground for their apartment buildings so that children can play outdoor games there.
The media, both print and electronics, should take steps to explain the importance of playgrounds and outdoor games in ensuring children’s healthy development.
Shabnam Talukder Barsha
BRAC University

5
SITE selection is an important factor for establishing educational institutes like schools as the environment of a school plays a vital role in developing a child’s mind and body. Such a plan should also include preparation of a playground for children. As such playgrounds should be looked upon as an integral part of the institutions. The government should permit only those, who can fulfil the above mentioned condition, to establish educational institutes.
Schools help in developing the mind and body of a student. But schools without playgrounds can help in developing the mind only. The students of a school without any playground are deprived of taking physical exercises and playing games, and therefore cannot have proper physical growth, essential for a strong citizen. Absence of playgrounds can kill the talents of such magnitude, as can be noticed in Sachin Tendulkar, Lionel Messi and Serena Williams, among our students.
Initiatives for setting up schools are surely praiseworthy. But there are other factors that should be taken into consideration before setting up a school. As most cities in Bangladesh including Dhaka are vulnerable to earthquakes, hiring a house in a residential area for setting up a school will not be a good idea. What we mean to say is that a school must have an open space which can be used as a playground or a safe resort for children during an earthquake. These playgrounds can also be used for growing vegetables, flowers etc to have aesthetic effect on the students.
There is no denying that we need more schools as the population of the country is growing with an uncanny speed. The people also dream to let their children acquire higher education. But all the famous schools are in the urban areas. Moreover, with regard to results, the students in urban areas are much ahead of those in the rural areas. For this reason, people are coming to the cities leaving villages. To meet this growing demand for education, the number of schools in urban areas is also increasing fast in an unplanned way. Most schools are trying to maximise profit without paying any heed to the overall physical and mental development of students Schools are being established without having any playgrounds for the students.
The government needs to make it a point not to approve any plan to set up a school, which does not have any arrangement for a playground in it.
M Sulaiman Husain
Chakaria, Cox’s Bazar
6
SPORTS are the greatest source of entertainment. At present Bangladesh has an acute shortage of playgrounds. Due to this problem, children and young people are buying their time in illegal ways. Now they like to be entertained by being drunk, playing in the computer and indulging in harmful activities. They become involved in various crimes sometimes. Many youngsters pass their time sitting idly. So this is time to make the youngsters turn to positive things like sports which will help them to build their future by being physically fit.
The government should take immediate steps to resolve this serious problem. The existing playgrounds should be protected on priority basis. The playgrounds that have already been spoiled should be replaced.
It should be mandatory for any school to have a playground. Education ministry can play a vital role in this regard. No school should be permitted to hold classes without any playground.
The authorities should organise sports competitions regularly to inspire the students and schools to have a school playground for practice.
Though there is an excessive pressure of building houses in the city, the government should not allow anybody to use playgrounds to build those. We have to find out another alternative to resolve the housing problem.
The government should take steps to increase the number of stadiums or playgrounds to patronize sports for the wellbeing of the young people.
There is no other alternative to sports for our children’s refreshment and to ensure their proper growth. So we all should raise our voice to take measures in this connection as soon as possible.
Md Yusuf Hossain
Management trainee
Delta Life Insurance Company Ltd

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