Students continue studies risking their lives
Hundreds of primary school students in Lakshmipur continue to pursue their studies in derelict buildings which are on the brink of collapse.
Although they might look good from the outside, the interiors of several schools in Sadar, Raipur, Kamalnagar, Ramganj and Ramgati upazilas, are deplorable. In the classrooms, the beams have almost collapsed and the plaster on the ceilings is coming off.
In the rainy season, classrooms get flooded, important documents and steel wardrobes get wet, making it impossible to take classes.
Instead of concentrating on their studies, students have to watch out for their lives to study in such deplorable conditions.
Students fear for their lives
From the outside, Peyarapur Government Primary School and Shaheed Smriti Adarsha Govt School, in Lakshmipur Sadar upazila, seem to be in perfect condition.
However, when this correspondent went to visit inside, he found ceiling rods poking through the broken beams. The whole of the ceiling had almost collapsed.
Students say, in constant fear of what might happen, they have difficulty concentrating in class.
With 39 school buildings at risk, Lakshmipur sadar upazila has the highest number of risky school buildings. But similar conditions prevail at schools in four other upazilas. Raipur has 23 school buildings at risk , Kamalnagar 12, Ramganj 16, and Ramgati 13.
Some of these schools are: Uttar Peyarapur Government Primary School, Paschim Khodwandapur Government Primary School, Uttar Chandkhali Government Primary School, Paschim Romoni Mohan Government Primary School, Charchamita Girls' Primary School, Rampur Government Primary School, Purba Charshahi Government Primary School, Neyamatpur Government Primary School, and Paschim Hashandi Primary Government School.
Parent of a Class IV student of Purba Charshahi Government Primary School, Amena Khatun, said: "I cannot stay at home after sending my kids to school, in fear of what might occur at any moment.
"These buildings are not very old," she complained. "In the past, a building would stay upright for 50 years, but now it barely sustains for 25 years. I demand investigations be made and action be taken against contractors in charge of building these school buildings."
A Class V student of Uttar Peyarapur Government Primary School, said: "We are always afraid when we are doing classes. Even last year, a few students were injured after a roof collapsed in the middle of a classroom."
Several other students echoed similar fears.
Arif Hossain, assistant teacher of Uttar Peyarapur School, said: "Our school is currently in a very risky situation. Ceiling plaster is peeling off, classrooms get flooded during the rainy season, and books and other materials get soaked.
"We only have this one building. How are we supposed to regularly hold classes here?" he said.
Headmaster of the school, Shahed Ali, said the upazila primary school coordination committee has repeatedly been approached on the issue. "Although we send the committee letters every month, we are yet to reach a solution."
Moniruzzaman Molla, a Lakshmipur Sadar Upazila Govt Primary School official, said: "In December, we sent a list of 39 school buildings that were at risk. Later, upon the ministry's request, we made another list. We want every schoolchild to have a safe environment, but we cannot allocate the buildings."
Education officer of Lakshmipur primary education, Abu Zafar Md Salek, said: "We have already informed all primary school principals to not take classes in risky buildings. If necessary, classes can be held at an alternative venue, after discussing it with school governing bodies."
He added: "We have already received a list of more than 100 school buildings that stand at risk. Hopefully, we will all reach a solution to avert any crisis, soon."