Twenty-one educational institutions, used as poling centres in Nilphamari-1 (Dimla) and Nilphamari-3 (Jaldhaka) constituencies for the January 5 elections, still bear testimony to the barbaric arson attacks by criminals on the polls day and the night before.
The attack, committed apparently by anti-election activists, destroyed textbooks, furniture, laboratory apparatus, registers, MPO sheets and service books of teachers and caused damage to the schoolhouses.
Defying all odds, the school authorities and teachers are now struggling to revive school activities.
Visiting badly affected Satjan High School in Dimla upazila yesterday, this correspondent found remains of burnt wooden furniture, scattered pieces of glass and metals all around. Chunks of plasters also fell on the floors from walls and roofs due to the heat of fire.
During classes, students were sitting on the floor while wreckage of benches, tables or chairs were kept in corners.
About 9:30pm on January 4, over a hundred attackers entered the school, spread petrol at the rooms and set fire, said advocate Nurul Huq, president of the school managing committee.
"Azizul Islam, who retired from his service as headmaster in last September, is playing the leading role to revive the school activities. At a recent meeting attended by the guardians, we have requested him to take charge as acting headmaster for one year,” he said.
"The sight of destruction is unbearable. Now I will not take any salary for serving the school as it is passing a hard time," said a tearful Azizul Islam, who has served the school for 38 years.
Azizul Sir has started approaching government offices for help to rebuild the school, while the teachers are collecting old textbooks and motivating students to attend classes, said several students and guardians.
"The arson attack destroyed about 2100 textbooks meant for free distribution and 1200 books of the school library. Two-desk top computers, a laptop, a projector and a digital screen used for instruction through multimedia as well as valuable apparatus in the science laboratory also got burnt," Nazrul Islam, office assistant of the school.
Dilruba Begum, headmaster of Phutanir Haat Government Primary School in Dimla, and Sirajul Islam, headmaster of Bogulagari Government Primary School of Jaldhaka, said they have continued classes and trying heart and soul to restore normalcy.
Fourteen primary schools, four high schools and three madrasas in the district were damaged in recent attacks, said Roksana Begum, district education officer.