CHANDPUR: Educational institutions in the district reopened following health guidelines after an 18-month shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, with a high number of dropouts or absentees.
The teachers are worried about their students' future.
A random survey shows dropouts mostly from rural areas. This was also confirmed by District Education Officer Mohammad Giasuddin Patwary. He hoped that the dropout incidence would come down slowly since schools, madrasas and colleges are open now.
The survey shows that about 40 to 50 per cent of students in many high schools, madrasas and colleges are still absent in the rural areas.
Some teachers said this is mainly due to their families' poverty and struggle for their livelihoods during the pandemic.
Shafiullah Sarker, headmaster of Raj Rajeswar Omar Ali High School under Sadar Upazila, said at least 40-percent students are not attending school.
On contact, their guardians said the teenagers are now engaged in work for survival. Many teenage girls of poor families have been married off by now. The headmaster said that before corona, there were over 500 students in his school. But, when the school reopened on September 12, some 200 students (boys and girls) were found absent. "It is a matter of great concern," he lamented. The survey shows similar scenes in many other institutions in the district.
Chandpur Akkas Ali Rly (Academy) School Headmaster Gofran Hossain said, "Absentees are 30 per cent in his school."
Chandpur Lady Protima Girls' High School teachers said absentees are 30 to 40 per cent in this school.
The same picture is seen in many other high schools in the town. In some UZ-level and-rural colleges, the proportion of absentees is about 50 per cent, said the teachers of Suchipara Degree College in Shahrasti, Hajiganj Govt Model College, Munshirhat College in Matlab Dakhshin Upazilas.
Matlab Mohila College Principal Afroja Begum said, "In our college, average absentees are 40 per cent. But 90-percent girls remain present on the day of submitting their assignments".
The headmaster of Chhoto Sundar A Ali High School Harunor Rashid said, "Seventy per cent of students are coming to classes. Many girls were married off at their early age during the pandemic."
According to District Education Officer Md Giasuddin Patwary, over 0.3 million (three lakh) students are now enrolled in the 537 schools, colleges, madrasas and technical schools and colleges in the 8 Upazilas of the district.