Luftur Rahman is the sole teacher at a primary school in a remote Bandarban village, where it has become difficult to appoint willing teachers
A small primary school is on the western side of a remote village, riven by a stream. But for the 50 odd students who live on the other side, there is no alternative to crossing the stream by foot.
The little girls and boys do not object much when the water is only knee-high.
But when it rains for consecutive days, the onrush of water from the hill slopes makes it difficult. One runs the risk of getting washed away by the strong current.
Yes, the students of Rangajhiri Primary School at Baishari union under Bandarban’s Naikkhangchhari upazila brave the hurdle most of the days as they do not want to miss a class.
If only the classes could be regularly held.
Their school is run by only one teacher.
No matter how hard he tries, Luftur Rahman, the lone assistant teacher, cannot afford to take all the classes.
The school was established in 2014. A total of four teachers were appointed to the school in the beginning. One of them has been on a six-month leave while two others were transferred on deputation to other schools about one-and-a-half years ago.
Rangajhiri is a village among the remotest hills, about 30km off the Naikkhangchhari upazila headquarters, and it is hard to find teachers willing to be appointed there.
Lutfur Rahman said: “It’s a hard-to-reach area and it becomes almost impossible to come to the school during the monsoon. Despite that, most of the students turn up almost every day. They are very eager to learn. They get wet to the bone, but they don’t give up.
“No matter how hard I try, who is going to take all the classes? There are 152 students and there is not even a clerk or a peon to help me.”
Students cross the canal, sometimes over waist-high, to get to school almost everyday | S Bashu Das/Dhaka Tribune
Rozina Akhter, a fifth grader, said: “I go to school even when the water is waist-high at the canal. It becomes a dangerous thing when the canal is up to the brink. I have no way but to be absent on those days.”
Third grader Sadek Hossain said sometimes during the rain, he is required to swim through the canal. “But my younger brother cannot swim. He cannot go to the school on those days,” he added.
Baishari Union Parishad Chairman Md Alam told the Dhaka Tribune that they would arrange for a boat to help the students cross the stream.
“And we hope the government officials concerned will take rapid action to address the teacher crisis at the school,” he added.