“When we sit in the classroom we feel scared the ceiling may fall on our heads, but we still attend classes every day despite the threat," said Md Riad Hossain, a Class V student of Bera BB Government Primary School in Bera municipality.
Like him, over two hundred students of the school, established in 1899, are attending classes amid the threat of serious injury. Its a circumstance they have endured for the last three years due to a lack of suitable accommodation.
The school has a newly built two-storeyed building that can accommodate 350 to 400 students in seven class rooms, but there are more than 600 students, forcing the school authorities to hold classes in the abandoned building as well.
Municipal authorities, the upazila primary education department and the upazila engineering office declared the building constructed in 1969 as abandoned in 2013, yet students attend classes in the five damaged classrooms of the building, sources said.
Most of the ceilings in the abandoned building are damaged and cracks have developed in many places.
“Plaster fell from the ceiling two months ago and injured 10 students and a teacher," says Sara Zaman, a Class V student. "Since that incident, we have been afraid to attend classes in the damaged rooms, but our teachers force us to do so,” said.
“Although the building has been declared risky, we have no other alternative to accommodate the students," says headmaster Md Shahdat Hossain. "We are concerned about the risk to the students but have to continue academic activities in the damaged classrooms to maintain regularity of classes."
The upazila primary education officer and the upazila engineering officer appealed to the higher authorities to construct a new building, but no steps have yet been taken, the headmaster added.
Lawmaker of Pabna-1, advocate Shamsul Haque Tuku, sent a request to the ministry of primary education on November 22 to construct a new building under the PDP-3 project, but the ministry is reluctant to take the initiative.
Contacted, Md Tofazzal Hossain, the upazila primary education officer, said construction of a new building depends on fund allotment.
“We have already submitted official letters to the ministry of primary education. There is no repair work possible; it needs reconstruction, which needs a huge amount,” Tofazzal said.