This is a common sight in the haors during the harvest season
Students of Rafinagar Union High School have been skipping school lately, as they are busy assisting their parents in harvesting paddy in the haors of Sunamganj.
The wooden benches of the school remain empty collecting dust, as none of the 1,200 students have been attending classes in the past two weeks and according to the authorities, this scenario will continue for the next 15 days.
However, the teachers are coming to school every day, in the hope that their students will return and attend classes.
The boys are busy in the fields cutting paddy, while the girls have the responsibility of boiling and drying the harvested rice, following their parents’ orders.
This has led to a complete hold on the school's curriculum, and the teachers are worried that they will not be able to complete their syllabuses. The current situation is depriving the students of a standard education, they fear.
Dipta Majumdar, a seventh grader of the school, said: "In the month of Boishakh, the paddy harvesting period, no one attends school.
"Both girls and boys get busy helping their families to harvest paddy from the haors and then process it at home."
Echoing Dipta, Lipi Rani Rishi, a 10th grader at the same school, said: "During this harvest season, we girls have a lot to do. Girls like me work to process the harvested paddy on the premises of our houses.
"We will attend school regularly after the harvesting season ends."
Jolly Talukdar, one of the parents of the children who are working relentlessly to ensure that they reap maximum profit from their harvests, said: "None of my three children are currently attending school.
"They are all working in the haor and in the house, alongside other family members during harvesting."
While visiting Rafinagar Union High School around 10am on Tuesday, this reporter saw the teachers waiting for their students, and the doors of the classrooms of grades six to 10 locked as there was no one to give lessons to.
Addressing the issue, Mohammad Ismail Hossain, a teacher at the school, said: "The students are not allowed to attend school as their parents want them to work and help in harvesting paddy.
"By doing this, the parents are saving money and time. But the teachers of the school are coming in regularly."
There are a total of 600 male and 600 female students in the school.
When contacted, local Union Parishad Member Noor Mia said: "If a summer vacation is given to these students, along with additional classes, during the harvest season, which is this month, then the flow of their studies would not be interrupted."
Commenting on the issue, District Education Officer Md Jahangir Alam said: "This is the picture of the whole haor area. Families with their school-going children are working together to harvest their boro paddy of the season.
"We will arrange additional classes so that they can cover their syllabuses."