After a year spent cleaning cars in a showroom in central Dhaka, 14-year-old Jasneg was excited when Bangladesh’s schools finally reopened in September, following the longest non-stop school closure in the world.
But Jasneg quickly realized he couldn’t afford to return to 8th grade. His mother was sick, and his salary helps pay for her treatment. His father’s income as a rickshaw puller wasn’t enough on its own.
Like hundreds of thousands of children across the country, Jasneg entered the workforce during the pandemic—only to find himself unable to quit. In September, schools opened their doors for the first time in over 18 months, but teachers say their classrooms remain quiet.
Working in partnership with NPR and the Dhaka Tribune, Corinne Redfern, Allison Joyce, and Ali Ahsan are investigating how the world’s longest school closure continues to affect Bangladesh’s youngest generation. Already, some schools have reported losing one in ten of their pupils to full-time employment, some of them as young as six years old.
This is their story.