Congestion is one of the major problems in Dhaka. And the problem becomes more serious during school time. The reason behind it is using one private car for one student. As students travel by cars, congestion is increasing; also students are losing opportunity of physical activity and socialization. More over Dhaka lacks enough parks and playgrounds in all communities. So both physical and mental growth of children is hindered. As well as pollution and fuel consumption are also increasing. These problems can be resolved by walking to school. Work for a Better Bangladesh Trust (a non-government organization working in Dhaka, Bangladesh) conducted a survey in 5 schools of Rayerbazar (a low income community) and found out that 95% students walk to school. Though there are problems like broken and uneven roads, excess speed of cars, garbage, water clogging, honking, even then they walk to school. They want sustainable solution to all these problems. With this demand 4 schools of Rayerbazar community, Ali Hossain Girls School, Dhanmondi Kachikantha High School, Dhaka Ideal Cadet School and Alif Ideal Public School organized week long campaign with cooperation Work for a Better Bangladesh Trust. Under this campaign they walked to school in groups and upheld their demands.
Students participating in the campaign said that, every day we face lots of problems. Because of broken road, we find it difficult to walk. The problem gets worse during rainy season. As there is no footpath or designated walkway, we are scared of the car speed.
Guardians said that, though we do not have good walking environment, we encourage our children to walk. The habit meets their need of physical activity. We teach them to be aware while walking and crossing the street. We hope that, government will ensure safe walking environment for us. Especially, it is important to ban cars in the narrow street or at least limit car speed.
Teachers of the schools said that, if same standard school is ensured in all communities parents will not be keen to send their children in a distant school. It will reduce travel demand as well as congestion by decreasing the usage of cars. Government has ensured 40% quota for the students of catchment area. The percentage should be increased. It will encourage the students to walk.
Gaous Pearee, Director, Work for a Better Bangladesh Trust, said that, most of the students in Rayerbazar community walk to school. If a model street, ensuring safe and comfortable walking environment, can be created here, it will be easy to replicate in other communities. City Corporation, relevant Ministries and departments, especially Ministry of Education should coordinate in this regard. Initiatives like- limiting car speed in narrow streets, no honking, pedestrian marking etc should be taken to ensure safe and comfortable walking environment for students.
Principal of Ali Hossain Girls’ School Fazlur Rahman, Principal of Dhanmondi Kachikantha High School Nurul Islam, Principal of Dhaka Ideal Cadet School MA Mannan Monir and Principal of Alif Ideal Public School Jewel Hasan were present in the week long campaign. Besides teachers, students, parents of the students and Deputy Program Manager of Work for a Better Bangladesh Trust Naznin Kabir, Assistant Advocacy Officer of Work for a Better Bangladesh Trust Naima Akter, Samiul Hassan Shajib and other officers participated in the campaign.