Squatting on tarpaulin-covered ground, third grader Champa Rani struggles to listen to her class teacher’s lecture at Ketkirhat Government Primary School, amidst the din created by students of five other classes.
“Students of more than one class is taking lessons under a single shed, so noise and crowding adversely affects our learning,” she said.
Her classmate Mahiya Mahbuba said, “It is difficult to pay attention to our lessons because dust from the adjacent road gets into our eyes and we get soaked when it rains.”
Since mid-August, all the students of the institution, from pre-primary Class V have been taking school lessons hurdled together under two makeshift sheds with no walls or barriers.
Erosion induced by the Jamuna river during the last flood washed away their two-storied school building, which was located near the flood control dyke along river Jamuna in Gaibandha’s Fulchari upazila.
The building was able to accommodate 320 students, teachers of the school said.
Lima Khatun, an assistant teacher of Ketkirhat Government Primary School, said, “We could not even save any educational materials or the benches from the school building. Now we are conducting all the classes from pre-primary to Class V together under two temporary sheds.”
At present, the attendance stands around 60 percent because many students cannot come from distant shoal areas due to snapped communication system after the flood, said Motiur Rahman, an assistant teacher of the school.
Apart from this school, education in 11 other government primary schools in different upazilas of the districts are getting hampered.
According to district primary education department, this year’s prolonged flood submerged a total of 220 government primary schools in Gaibandha under four to five feet of water, forcing the schools to remain closed for nearly a month between July and August.
After the flood situation turned normal, classes resumed in 208 schools, but 12 schools could not start their sessions properly.
They are Harubhanga, Dhalipatadhoya, Ketkirhat, Jamira and Anguradaha primary schools in Fulchari upazila, Chithuliar Char, Chithulia Digor, Baje-Chithulia, Moulvir Char and Keblaganj primary schools in Gaibandha Sadar, and Ujan-Burail and Purbo Lalchamar primary schools in Sundarganj upazila.
Losing their schoolhouses to erosion, some of these schools started classes under make shift sheds while others are delivering lessons in abandoned areas under the open sky.
As the school authorities cannot accommodate all the students under these temporary arrangements, teachers are apprehending large scale drop out in the current academic session.
In Ketkirhat Government Primary School, teachers are providing additional coaching to fifth graders, appearing in the public examination to be held at the end of the year.
“We are trying our best to cover up the gap caused by class suspension during the flood,” said Matiur.
The school managing committee has erected two sheds not far from the location of the previous schoolhouse, he said.
The deputy Commissioner in Gaibandha allocated grant of corrugated iron sheets for the construction of the sheds to continue the children’s education, said Rezia Khatun, head teacher of the school.
District Primary Education Officer Hossain Ali said priority will be given to construction of erosion hit schools. Accordingly, reports have been sent to the higher authorities.
On getting allocation, work for the construction of the flood-hit schoolhouses will be started on emergency basis, he added.