Double blow to education
Flood is hampering over 8 lakh students' access to remote learning, introduced to minimise disruptions to their education during the pandemic.
These students are not able to take part in lessons online and on TV, which they had been relaying on the most since the coronavirus outbreak and the closure of schools on March 17.
From late March and early April, the state-run Sangsad TV has been broadcasting classes for all students of primary and secondary levels and on several subjects for madrassa and technical students. It is broadcasting 10 classes a day for the secondary level students.
Apart from this, classes are also being held on Facebook and YouTube for primary- and secondary-level students in many areas.
But at least 10,000 of the flood-affected students have lost their books and other learning materials to the flood. Many were relocated to flood shelters, where there is no power or the supply is disrupted or they have taken shelter at places with no access to internet or TV.
These students could fall behind as normal educational activities will not resume before August 31 at least.
"They have taken shelter at flood centres and on roads … they are struggling to survive … how they will be able to follow lessons on TV?" asked Shariatpur Primary Education Officer Abul Kalam Azad.
Ninth-grader Shahin Islam took shelter on the railway line in Kustari area of Kurigram's Chilmari upazila. He said he continued his studies at home after school was closed in March.
"My books are inside a suitcase. There is no opportunity or environment to study at a temporary shelter," he said, adding that he was lagging behind in his studies.
Shahin is lucky. He still has the books.
About 100 families took shelter on the Mahila Bandh at Bagura's Sarikandi upazila. They do not have any TV and internet connection is far cry as mobile network is spotty at best.
"My nephew lost his books in the flood. How will he continue his education amid this situation?" asked flood victim Najirul Islam.
Around 37 percent of the country has been flooded.
Several million people of 150 upazilas in 31 districts have been affected by the flood, said the latest report of National Disaster Response Coordination Centre.
According to a study of The Needs Assessment Working Group, a platform of government and non-government humanitarian agencies, 10,000 students lost their textbooks and other learning materials.
The report, titled "Monsoon Floods 2020 Coordinated Preliminary Impact and Needs Assessment", said 807,467 children were facing learning losses.
Academic performance of these children is severely impacted due to double sufferings (pandemic and flood), said the report based on 21 flood-affected districts.
Needs Assessment Working Group National Coordinator Jafar Iqbal said these children were students of primary and secondary levels.
Things may not change that much if the schools reopen after August 31.
Students of at least 38 schools will not have their schools to return to as those have gone into rivers and have been destroyed, according to the Directorate of Primary Education (DPE) officials.
Besides, the flood damaged 3,278 government primary schools and 394 others were being used as flood shelters, with no guarantee when those will be usable for teaching.
According to DPE Deputy Director Delwar Hossain, the flood affected 741 primary schools of Mymensingh, 730 in Rajshahi, 673 in Dhaka, 580 in Sylhet, 506 in Rangpur, 44 in Chattogram and two in Barishal division as of yesterday.
He said 19 primary schools in Rangpur, 11 in Rajshahi, five in Dhaka and three in Mymensingh division went into river.
Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education (DSHE) is yet to ascertain how many of its schools and madrassas were affected, but one of its top officials said at least several hundred schools.
DPE Director General Md Fashiullah and DSHE Director General Prof Syed Md Golam Faruk said they were taking immediate measures to repair the flood-affected schools.
"We will also provide students with textbooks and learning materials if those have been washed away by the flood," Fashiullah said.
Fashiullah and Golam Faruk said once the water starts to recede, they through their field-level officials would take necessary step to repair the schools.
However, how the government is going to make up the loss of months of academic activities is yet to be seen.