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Scarcity of playground hinders physical, mental growth of children

DHAKA, June 2, 2017 (BSS) - The scene is disappearing fast that children are running to the playground with football or cricket gears with the ringing of the tiffin bell as most of the Dhaka schools don't have any playground left for their students.

According to a recent survey of Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) and Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC), only 2 percent children of the capital have the access to playground.

Lack of sports or physical activities creates a huge setback in the children's physical and mental growth and it seems to be one of the major reasons behind the current uptrend graph of country's child obesity.

As per data of Primary Education Department, there are 338 primary schools, 450 NGO-run schools and more than 11,000 kindergartens in the capital. Apart from the government schools, 98 percent of the private schools don't have any playground, it said.

The World Health Organization suggested that the children under age group of 5 to 10 should spend at least one hour in a day on playground for their proper physical and mental growth. But the capital's urban kids are not getting space for playing neither at schools nor at their neighborhoods.

Scarcity of playgrounds forces the children to be addicted to digital devices like tab, laptop and mobile phones. In one hand, this digital addiction is making the children obese and in the other hand, it is hampering their proper mental growth.

Dr Mehzabin Haque, associate professor of Education and Consultant Physiology Department of the Dhaka University, said "We should not forget that extracurricular activities are must for mental development of children. There is no alternative to sports to maintain natural mental and physical growth of the children."

Eminent Psychiatrist Mohith Kamal said sports is a major component for physiological development of children. "Sports help children to share with others, to control emotion as well as to have the mentality to accept defeat. Without outdoor sports, it is not possible," he said.

Associate professor of National Mental Health Institute and pediatrician Helal Uddin Ahmed said, nowadays the schools are not playing enough roles in mental and physical development of the children. Most of the institutes are result-oriented. They are not that much interested in extracurricular activities. It hampers socialization of children, he observed.

Dhaka District Primary Education Officer Hosne Ara Begum said there is no alternative to ensuring proper physical activities for children along with studies.

"Playground is a prime need for children but the reality is that we don't have adequate number of playgrounds in the capital. I would like to request the guardians to take their children for outing at least once a week," she said.

The experts said children have to get chance to play outside no matter whether there is playground in the school or not. In this case, the guardians have to take initiatives. Still some fields and parks are there in the capital.

The guardians should take the children to those fields instead of making them busy with electronic devices. Side by side, the government has the responsibility to recover all the playgrounds from the land grabbers and rebuild those with children friendly facilities, suggested the experts.