Children in Dhaka – and in fact in almost all cities of the country – are in a state quite similar to that of a caged bird. Growing up within the four-walled concrete infrastructure, they lack open spaces to have their physique developed and psyche broadened. Even in their learning institutions, or what we call schools, they are completely deprived of the charms childhood usually offers to children. In this congested Dhaka, even though it is a capital but reflects little of that, very few schools have playgrounds. These schools are usually set up, keeping commercial purposes in mind, within the floors of buildings that lack open spaces in front of them. Subconsciously, or one can say deliberately, we are building up a feeble and weak generation to provide leadership to the Bangladesh of the future.
Alongside education, the need for sports requiring physical involvement is beyond question. But unfortunately, our schools in the capital have staryed from this reality. Commercialization of education, like almost everything else, has become so widespread and set its roots so deep in our mindset that we are hardly bothered about the law according to which a school cannot be established on land below 33 decimals. Again, a playground for children is out of the question when a school is set up in a residential house. It is a crying shame.
Most schools and their classrooms convey the impression of being detention centres, and the children who come here to study appear to be incarcerated convicts. The localities where their families reside also lack open spaces that will allow these children to bond with other children living in the same area. Even though some localities have open spaces, there exists either an unhygienic environment, an unrestricted movement of drug addicts to threaten their security or unhindered encroachment by land grabbers. In this way, children are being robbed of their precious childhood slowly but surely.
Being restricted within urban flats, these children are getting addicted to the sky culture which has pushed them into developing an aggressive and narrow mentality. Lack of physical exercises is leading to rising obesity in urban children. Health experts observe that rural children, compared to the urban ones, are physically and psychologically stronger due chiefly to their exposure to an open environment, adequate light, fresh air and healthy eating. Urban children are truly unaware about how and when their childhood is slipping from their lives. Shouldn’t we then be concerned about the physical and mental growth of our children? Shouldn’t we let them grow up playing, singing and dancing? Let’s work hand in hand to build them a world free from all constraints.