Health

Some students were seen lowering their masks at textbook distribution event. Hasina takes note of it

The prime minister warned people against the new omicron variant of the coronavirus causing spikes in cases around the world during the distribution event for free textbooks for the 2022 academic year on Thursday.

Hasina joined the event, held at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre, via video conferencing from the Ganabhaban. She also released the results for the SSC and equivalent examinations at the same event.

Education Minister Dipu Moni was present to hand the books to the children on the prime minister’s behalf.

The prime minister congratulated the students and encouraged them by clapping as the books were given out. When a few of the primary school children at the event took the stage with their masks lowered, it drew the prime minister’s attention.

“Why have the children lowered their masks?” she asked. “This isn’t right. Many young children are getting the coronavirus.”

As the new omicron variant spreads, there have been several reports of children being affected as well. In the US, the number of children infected with the omicron strain is more than double that of adults.

The ‘tsunami’ of new cases of the omicron and delta variant is cause for concern, the World Health Organization said.

The prime minister, who was unable to present the textbooks to the children herself due to the pandemic situation, urged everyone to be careful and follow health regulations.

Unlike previous years, there will not be a large public gathering to distribute free textbooks on the first day of 2022. However, arrangements have been made for students across the country to receive the books from Jan 4 onwards, Hasina said.

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More than 340 million free textbooks will be distributed to over 40 million students in the new year, said Dipu Moni.

PAY ATTENTION TO MENTAL HEALTH

During the event, the prime minister also spoke on the importance of being aware of mental health issues among students.

“Mental health is often misunderstood in our country,” Hasina said. “Some children have difficulty studying due to mental health issues, but we don’t treat them as if they are trying to handle a serious problem. Instead, we scold them.”

She brought up the issue of dyslexia, a learning disability that makes it difficult for a person to read and write words. Previously, an issue like that would have been chalked up to a child’s misbehaviour, Hasina said.

“There are also children who, if you scold them for performing poorly in one subject while doing well in others, will start to do worse overall.”

The prime minister noted that the Ministry of Education has provided training on mental health to some 200,000 teachers recently, adding that all teachers need to be aware of these issues.

“It isn’t possible to ensure that all educational institutions have a mental health specialist on staff, but we must try and be aware, and that includes teachers and guardians,” she said.

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