August 1, 2016 - 12:21pm
Nearly 2,500 flood-affected students on different chars (shoals) of the River Teesta under Dimla upazila run the risk of dropping out as their schools and houses have been washed away by the river.
According to Flood Information Centre at Dimla upazila parishad, the rising waters of the Teesta have forced around 1,352 families of nine chars in the upazila to take shelter on nearby high land including the river's flood control dam, surrounding areas of the silt trap and the helipad of Water Development Board at Dalia village.
“The River Teesta has swallowed up nearly 1,500 dwellings, eight schools, 2,200 acres of cultivable land and road network of nine villages,” said Rabiul Islam Shahin, chairman of Tepa Kharibari union parishad.
“As a result, the displaced people of this area will never be able to return to their dwellings,” Rabiul feared.
According to a recent government survey, a total of 2,240 families lived on those chars and 63 per cent of them have been displaced due to the flood this year.
The Flood Information Centre has confirmed that eight educational institutions -- six government primary schools, one high school and one kindergarten -- have been severely damaged by the flood or engulfed by the river.
The affected primary schools are Char Kharibari Modhya Government Primary School, Char Kharibari Babupara Government Primary School, Tapur Char Government Primary School, Tepa Kharibari Government Primary School-2, Purbo Kharibari Government Primary School and Hydarpara Government Primary School.
The damaged high school is Tepa Kharibari High School while the kindergarten is Ekotar Bazar Kindergarten.
Fatema Begum, head teacher of Tepa Kharibari High School, said educational activities of her school, with an enrolment of 472 students, have ground to a halt as the school building has been damaged heavily.
This correspondent during a visit to the flood control dam near Dalia village found around a thousand families who have taken shelter there. The correspondent also noticed a number of school children in worn out uniforms wandering about aimlessly.
“Mother says we have to stay here permanently. How will I go to my school so far away,” wondered Amina Begum, a fifth grader at Tapur Char Government Primary School.
Despite all odds, four of the affected young learners -- first grader Momin, second grader Zohurul, third grader Yasmin and fourth grader Santi Akhtar -- said they would continue their studies at any cost.
Many of these students, full of resilience, said they held onto their textbooks although they had to leave many of their belongings behind when they hurriedly packed everything and rushed to the flood shelters.
Aftabuddin Sarker, local lawmaker and president of upazila coordination committee, said, “I've directed the upazila education officer to arrange makeshift schools for the displaced children on the flood control dam and engage teachers of the damaged schools there.”