Indigenous students return to a boarding hostel after a school break at Chandpukur church in northern Bangladesh. Activists fear that without support from government and aid groups 80 percent of indigenous students might drop out due to Covid-19. (Photo: Stephan Uttom/UCA News)
Biplob Soren passes his days either playing with friends or helping his daily-wager father in the fields or in hunting wild animals.
Six months ago, Biplob, 12, an ethnic Mahali, was a regular eighth-grader at Fulbari High School in Dinajpur district of northern Bangladesh. It was before Covid-19 hit Bangladesh and forced the government to shut down all education institutes indefinitely.
After months without formal education, little chance of home tuition and the family struggling to survive amid loss of work and income, Biplop’s father feared his son may not be able to go back to school.
“Except for paddy rice planting, there was no work, and it is over now. There is no other work to make money. Now I join other villagers in fishing, hunting rabbits and picking wild potatoes in the forest,” Sushanto Soren, 47, a Catholic father of three, told UCA News.