Kindergarten Teachers in Rangpur: Pandemic made them drivers, vendors
Rendered unemployed by the pandemic, many kindergarten teachers in Rangpur and its nearby districts had to become daily wage earners for survival.
In the absence of a stable income, the teachers, along with their family members, are passing their days in extreme hardship and amid uncertainty.
About six lakh teachers of around 50,000 kindergarten schools across the country have not got their salaries since the pandemic led to the closure of all educational institutions in March last year, according to a platform of such teachers.
Not having any other income sources, many of the teachers had to switch to other professions. Many started operating battery-run easy bikes, many became salespersons while many turned vegetable vendors to feed their families.
Tanjul Islam, who taught at Tawhida Kindergarten School in Rangpur city for 10 long years, is one of them.
For Tanjul and his family, Covid came as a curse, a really bad one, he said.
Their hardship began after guardians of most students of the school stopped paying the monthly tuition fees in April last year, Tajul told The Daily Star.
"Having no income, the school stopped paying my salaries. I had no savings either. So I had no other option but to run an easy bike inside the city. I am a schoolteacher, becoming an easy bike driver was not an easy decision for me," he said.
His brother, also a kindergarten teacher, left for Dhaka in search of a job.
Tanjul said he was finding it hard to run his family with his meagre income. "The lockdown has made our situation even worse as vehicles are barred from plying."
Many kindergarten teachers are selling vegetables and tree saplings to run their families.
Hazrat Ali, who founded Fatah Kindergarten School in 2005 in Rampura area of the city, was seen selling saplings on a footpath.
Shahidul Islam, a teacher of Mahiganj Amtala Bidyapeet, said he worked at the school for 10 years and never found himself in such a difficult situation before.
"I have not been paid by the school for the last 15 months. I ran out of all my savings long ago," he said. Shahidul is now looking for a new job.
Azizul Islam, a kindergarten schoolteacher of Hakimpur upazila of Dinajpur, became a mason to feed his family.
Many schools in the districts and Kurigram have spent all their money. Some even sold all their furniture to pay their teachers and other staffers.
Sheikh Mohammad Ajaharul Islam, general secretary of North Bengal Kindergarten and Pre-Cadet School Society in Rangpur, said many schoolteachers took up new jobs after failing to get any support from the government.
On behalf of the platform, he requested the government to either reopen the schools or provide the teachers with immediate financial assistance.