Floodwaters in Bangladesh take heavy toll on children’s education

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DHAKA: Flooding in northeastern Bangladesh last month has taken a significant toll on the country’s education sector, with authorities estimating that it has kept hundreds of thousands of students out of school.

When monsoon rains caused heavy floods in northeast Bangladesh in June, millions of people were displaced, and scores were murdered. The South Asian nation had severe rainfall that lasted for days, resulting in the greatest downpour in more than a century.

Thousands of schools and colleges in the worst-affected Sylhet district were forced to remain closed for weeks following the disastrous floods, keeping hundreds of thousands of pupils out of classes while authorities assessed the extent of the damage.

Over 3,000 elementary schools — more than half of the total in Sylhet — were damaged by the floods, according to Dr. Nasima Begum, deputy director of the region’s department of basic education. She said that approximately 1.8 million students were enrolled in primary schools.

“Because more than half of the schools were flooded, it is expected that the students in these locations were also affected,” Begum added.

“We have yet to conclude the loss assessment because the floodwaters have not retreated fully in many regions,” she explained. “When lessons restart, we intend to present new books and educational resources to the children.”

According to Mohammed Nazrul Hakim, executive engineer of Sylhet’s education engineering department, buildings devastated by the floods are in desperate need of restoration.

“The floodwaters have rendered the ground floors of the impacted institutions useless.” Students cannot attend lessons unless repairs are made,” Hakim explained.

Because hundreds of high schools and colleges in the region were also devastated during the tragedy, around 150,000 secondary students had their final exams, which were originally slated for June, postponed.

“This flood devastated around 600 high schools and colleges,” Prof. Abdul Mannan Khan, director of Sylhet’s secondary and higher education department, told Arab News.

Classes are scheduled to resume on July 19, but “floodwater ruined many of their books and education tools,” according to Khan.

When unprecedented floodwaters swept across villages in northeast Bangladesh, most people had barely enough time to save themselves and their loved ones.

“Our sole concern amid the flood was saving our lives,” Abdur Rahman Sohag said.

“It happened so fast that I didn’t have time to save any of my books.”

Sohag was one of tens of thousands of students who had final exams last month. However, as the situation deteriorated and the final exams had to be rescheduled, a new date has yet to be set.

Sanjida Zahan Chowdhury, 16, lost her textbooks in the floodwaters that swamped her home in the Sunamganj district, like Sohag.

“We found ourselves in roughly 1.5 meters of high flood water inside our home within half an hour at midnight,” Chowdhury told Arab News, adding that she and her family had to wait eight hours before being evacuated.

“Many of my books and notes were destroyed.” “How can I take the exam if I don’t have my books?”

Source: Bangladesh News

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