Rice cultivation in school playground!
Schools in the country have recently been reopened following a long break due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, Ramnagar Poshchimpara Primary School in Kushtia's Mirpur upazila is still off limits to its students.
The reason? The school building has turned inaccessible after rice was planted in the school's playground, blocking everyone's access to the school building.
Ruhul Azam, president of the school's managing committee, said it may not be possible to fully reopen the school without harvesting the rice.
On the reason why the playground was used for rice cultivation, he said instead of letting such a large piece of land go unutilised, it will be more beneficial if contributions to the school fund can be made from sale of rice. "As it was uncertain when the school would open again, it was done upon discussion with teachers."
"It will be like this for the time being. But a process is underway to bring students back to school," he claimed.
Ujjal Hossain, headteacher (in-charge) of the school, said, "The president of the school's managing committee would be able to explain why he cultivated rice in the schoolground. I am unable to comment on this."
Under the circumstances, most of the students, 176 in total, are now reluctant to come to the school, he said, adding that it took a lot of convincing on their part to bring a little over two dozen students to the school on Wednesday (September 15) amid widespread criticism from locals.
Several teachers of the school seeking anonymity said the entire land of the school including the playground is registered property of the school.
The playground is for the students of the school and no one has the right to use it for other purposes arbitrarily.
The school is in the process of being nationalised and government officials concerned already paid several visits in this connection, they added.
Amid the coronavirus situation, Ruhul Azam, the president of the school's managing committee, in one morning suddenly started using a power tiller on the playground, telling the teachers that rice would be cultivated there, said a teacher of the school, requesting not to be named.
Another teacher said the students have been deprived of outdoor games and other recreational activities in the playground ever since and there is not even any uncultivated space where students or teachers can stand outside the school building.
Ramnagar village resident Sheikh Askar Hossain, a parent of a student at the school, said the president of the managing committee has no right to occupy the school playground this way. "But he did so by force."
Contacted, Primary Education Officer Masud Rana of Mirpur upazila said they would take necessary action following investigation, as playground of any educational institution cannot be occupied.
Mirpur Upazila Nirbahi Officer Lincoln Biswas also assured of due action against the individuals responsible for occupying the school playground for rice cultivation.