Obstructing outdoor games, the headmaster of a high school in Gaibandha’s Fulchhari upazila has been cultivating black lentils on the school playground for the last two years.
Students of Udakhali Adarsha Girls’ High School, an institution under the MPO (Monthly Pay Order) system, alleged that the 60 decimals of schoolground is being cultivated, leaving very little room for assembly and outdoor games.
“We have not been able to play for a long time as the whole ground is covered with lentil plants,” said Anowara Begum, a seventh grader of the school with 250 students.
Office assistant of the school Abdur Rahman said, “Last year, I requested the head teacher not to cultivate crop on the playground, but he did not listen to me.”
Headmaster Noni Gopal said, last year, the schoolyard was filled with earth to prevent floodwater accumulation.
“The soil on the ground was not compact, so we cultivated plants to stop wash out of the top soil,” he said, not detailing what he plans to do when the plants are ready for harvest.
Though Noni insisted that all 14 teachers of the school are involved in the venture, a number of teachers refuted his claim.
Rafiqul Islam, a teacher of the school, told this correspondent that the decision to cultivate lentil on the schoolground was the headmaster’s alone.
“Last year, the headmaster, simply out of curiosity, sowed some lentil seeds in a small portion of the ground, but the plants did not bloom as the soil was sandy soil.”
“This year, the whole ground other than the assembly space is being cultivated,” he said.
“I came to know that the headmaster of the school cultivated pulse on the ground, which is not desirable at all, instead he could have planted grass and make the ground suitable for play,” said Anower Hossain, chairman of Udakhali union parishad.
President of the school governing body Abdul Baki Sarker said, the decision of pulse cultivation on schoolground was not taken in the school governing body meeting.
The head master individually cultivated lentil on the ground, the president said, adding that they recently asked the headmaster to plant grass to make the ground fit for play.
District education officer Enayet Hossain said, measure is being taken to stop any such crop cultivation on schoolground, which should have been levelled for outdoor games and other activities.