Monday 5, June 2023

Flood constrains 31 schools to close again in north

News Desk: Flood constrained closure of 31 educational institutions in the five flood-hit districts of Rangpur division once again, inflicting hardship on the schoolchildren.

These schools were closed for second time in four waves of flood that swept through the five northern districts of Rangpur, Lalmonirhat, Nilphamari, Gaibandha and Kurigram since April.

A total of 61 schools had to be closed down in the second phase of flooding despite the authorities’ effort not to close schools unless they were completely engulfed in several feet of water.

Flood left the national academic calendar in a mess in northeastern districts where about 1,000 educational institutions had to be closed for weeks in May, June and July.

‘I hate floods. I love to go to school and study,’ said Miron, a Class V student at Bagerhat Government Primary School at Gangachara in Rangpur.

In many northern areas students are forced to stop going to schools even before the educational institutions are officially closed.

Students in the northern region have to take treacherous journey to reach schools, often navigating massive rivers with strong current and country roads completely submerged in water.

Travelling to schools in many areas literally means risking life and snake bites are not rare.

‘There are more reasons for us to stop studying than we can count,’ said Sadia, who studies in Class VI at Rudreswar High School in Lalmonirhat.

Said could not take her first-term exam because of floods and her school is closed once again.

‘Nobody seems bothered about us. We see no plan for making school-going easy for us,’ said Sadia.

Nearly 1,000 primary and secondary schools and colleges have remained closed in the flood-affected north-eastern districts of Sylhet, Sunamganj and Moulvibazar for weeks in phases in May, June and July.

On May 23, the UNICEF issued a press release, reminding that hundreds of schools were closed due to the flooding, further jeopardising the education of children.

As per the UNICEF estimate, more than 1.5 million children are at an increased risk of waterborne diseases, drowning and malnutrition due to the extensive flooding in north-eastern Bangladesh.

Children in Bangladesh remained out of classrooms for 18 months in a row in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.

Officially, the Teesta River, the reason for the latest wave of flooding, fell below its danger level.

But in reality, flood water engulfed new areas through breaches in flood protection embankments, washing away more houses and crop fields.

The Water Development Board confirmed that flood left 55,000 families stranded so far in the flood-affected districts while washing away 73 houses between Tuesday and Wednesday.

The divisional commissioner’s office confirmed two more deaths due to flood on Wednesday.

The dead, identified as Julekha, 52, a resident of Gangachara, Rangpur, and Sentu Miah, 61, a resident of Hatibandha of Lalmonirhat, were crushed under houses eroded by floodwater.

Many families moved to flood protection embankments for shelter after losing their houses. Some moved to their relatives.

The flood-affected people are in dire need of help for they are exhausted from battling back-to-back floods that destroyed their crops more than once.

The Met Office in Bangladesh warned of a short to mid-term flood hitting the northern, north-eastern and south-eastern regions in the second half of this month.

Scattered heavy rain continued upstream with India Meteorological Department reporting, in the 24 hours until 8:30am on Wednesday, 218 per cent of more rain than normal in Mizoram.

The Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre in its daily bulletin released in early afternoon on Wednesday warned that the Brahmaputra, the Jamuna, the Ganges and the Padma may continue swelling over the next 48 hours.

Out of the 109 river gauging stations observed for water levels, 74 reported swelling in the 24 hours reporting period, according to the FFWC.

Light to moderate rainfall was predicted at many places of Rangpur, Rajshahi, Mymensingh, Sylhet and Chattogram divisions until 6:00pm on Wednesday.

The country’s highest rainfall of 109mm in the 24 hours until 6:00pm on Wednesday was recorded in Cox’s Bazar, according to the BMD.

It asked the maritime ports of Cox’s Bazar, Chattogram, Mongla and Payra to hoist signal number 3 because of squally weather over the North Bay.

All fishing boats and trawlers have been asked to come close to the coast and move with caution until further notice.


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