28 lakh people living in Sunamganj only have very limited options for work
Apart from agriculture and fishing, options for other work are scarce for the 28 lakh people in living in Sunamganj haor areas, mostly due to their lack of technical education.
There are 1,470 primary schools, 229 higher secondary schools and 32 colleges in the area. Howver, there is no technical institution. The rate of education is only 33 percent.
The areas have water for 6-7 months a year and during this time, the locals earn their livelihood by catching fish. After the water level falls, agriculture work runs from December till February.
In the months of April-May, paddy is cut and collected. When the haor areas get , many leave for different places in search of work. A large section of people spend idle time at home and therefore, cannot escape from the cycle of poverty.
Since there is water everywhere, cultivating vegetables around the house becomes impossible.
A farmer says that he goes to Bholaganj, Bichanakandi, Jaflong to look for work.
“If people had other ways to earn a livelihood, they would not be poor.”
A young farmer, Nur Mia, has got 400 tons of rice this year and with the money collected from the sale of this rice, they will meet the family expenses, cost for next year’s agriculture work, education of their children and wages for workers.
Former chairman of Banghikunda union parishad, Rasel Ahmed, said “In the haor areas, people are totally dependent on agriculture but there is no chance for agriculture work to be carried out the whole year; people produce crops once a year and rely on that.”
The youth belonging to these areas need to be skilled with technical education, he added. The former principal of Sunamganj Government College, Parimal Kanti De, adds “Children in haor areas are not getting effective life-transforming skills and so, there cannot make any contribution to the national economy.”
“Technical institutes need to be established here and once the youth are trained, they will find ways to improve lives and escape the cycle of poverty,” he observed.
“The people here are also deprived of a proper communication system which is adversely impacting the economic life of the area.”
This is irony of the matter, given the government’s huge investment in primary education , is that only a few can read simple text fluently or answer questions from the text and do basic arithmetic sums.
In addition, some children still simply do not have access to education in the underprivileged haor areas.
Poor attendance is a big concern towards the continuation of students’ learning. Only 40 percent of children attend classes regularly. Poor communication and lack of transportation hinder regular attendance of students at the educational institutions.
Locals emphasized on haor based Special Economic Zones (SEZs).
Member of Parliament (MP) of Sunamgaj 1 constituency, Moazzem Hossain Ratan, says “Many bridges and culverts are being built and a border road will be constructed soon; once these are in place, work will be generated and poverty eradicated .”