It was 9:45 in the morning on October 22 this year. The lone engine-run boat of the Baherbali SESDP Model High School was fast heading towards Tarakandi haor to bring students from Aynargoop and Parkachua villages that sit at least three kilometres away from the school.
Ten students of different classes – all in uniform – girls in sky-blue kameez and white pyjamas and boys in white shirt and black pants – were waiting for the boat.
They all boarded the boat the moment it reached the shore of the haor.
This is how nearly 300 students take turn in crossing the haor to arrive at their school to attend classes during the rainy season. Seven schoolteachers also go by the boat.
Riding a boat regularly for going to a school would seem like a drudgery for many mainland school-goers, but not for haor children. They are always ready to cross this hurdle to get the opportunity of education.
"We need to get up early in the morning to catch the boat. If any one of us misses the boat he or she will miss classes," said Durga Rani Das, an eighth grader from village Aynargoop.
"During the monsoon, the boat is the only mode of transportation," said Durga whose father didn't have the opportunity to go to high school.
The Baherbali SESDP Model High School stands on the northern edge of Baherbali village. This is the only high school in the area.
Though the school remains operational year round, half of the ground floor remains underwater for around five months a year when Meghna and other rivers and haors swell up in the rainy season.
The school was constructed in 2011 under an ADB-funded Secondary Education Sector Development project.
When a proposal came for constructing the school, villagers found it tough to manage land for it.
"At last, Saidur Rahman of Baherbali village agreed to donate two of four bighas of his land required for the school. The villagers bought the remaining two bighas from him," said Ali Amzad, a village doctor.
Baherbali, an island-like village, one kilometre in length and 50 metres in width, is home to nearly 1,000 families.
Most of them are either farmers or fishermen by profession. In the rainy season, when there is water in haors and rivers, people go fishing, and when the water recedes they go for cultivation.
Sending their children to schools was a dream to them.
"Once the school was established, the villagers took the opportunity to educate their children, hoping to ensure a better life for them," said Amzad.
Children from Aynargoop, Parkachua, Boali and Purakanda village also go to school.
In those villages, there are five primary schools too. After completing their primary education, many did not get the opportunity to go to high schools.
After the school started its journey in 2013, teachers and students of the school had to come to school on commercial boats by paying Tk10 each per trip.
In 2016, local lawmaker Afzal Hossain donated them a boat that has the capacity to carry 40 children at a time. The three-tonne iron-made boat carries students to and from one village after another.
As the school premises remain inundated for nearly five months, the students do not get the chance of playing on the field. They have turned the rooftop of the school building into a garden with different types of flower plants.
"When the classes finish, we wait on the rooftop for our turn to go home on the boat," said Tarin Sultana, a class-nine student, who also won the Primary School Certificate Scholarship.
In summer, the students face difficulty as they come to the school on foot. They said they like the rainy season most as there is a boat for taking them to the school.
"Although the school is situated in a remote area of Majichar union under Bajitpur upazila, we are happy that students, as well as their guardians, are becoming aware of education," said Prova Rani Das, acting headmaster of the school.
She said most people in the Majichar area are living in poverty. As a result, male children sometimes have to go to work with their parents. But the female ones stay at home and they get more opportunity for education.
"Our observation is that most students in the school try not to miss classes. Especially, the presence of girl students is really encouraging," said Prova Rani Das.
The main problem they face is that there is only a boat for carrying around 300 students.
The schoolteachers said they are badly in need of another boat to smoothly run the school. If they get another boat, the enrolment of students will increase.