After completing an Honours and Masters in law with good results from Chittagong University, Sabetri Pal (pseudonym) has been looking for a job for two years.
She has to tutor students to run her family, but even that only source of income has stopped since March last when the coronavirus broke out in Bangladesh.
Sabetri's father worked in a private company for 18 years until 2013 when he was sent into forced retirement with some money. He bought savings instruments with the money and now earns some interest every three months from them.
Recently, Sabetri's father had a heart attack and her mother has been ill for a long time. Sabetri cannot even buy proper medicines for them.
Such families of educated unemployed youths have now fallen below the poverty line due to the stagnant economy amid the coronavirus crisis. Yet, they are not getting government aid.
Economists say that the government should also support these people by discarding conventional thinking and expanding the social safety net to cover them.
Like Sabetri Pal, Mahbubur Rahman too has not been able to get a job even though he passed from the political science department of Dhaka University seven years ago.
His father was a railway employee. House rent, family expenses – all are borne with the father's pension money. Apart from his parents, Mahbubur has three brothers and sisters who all are still studying.
Mahbubur said he has been trying for a government job from the very beginning. He appeared at the viva voce in the 34th and 36th BCS. But finally, he joined a private company as he had already gone past the age limit for a government job.
Due to the coronavirus, he lost that private job too. He is deeply frustrated as he is now unable to support his family financially. He too is not getting any financial aid from the government.
The uncertainty over when these educated unemployed people will get jobs does not seem to be going away very soon.
Because of the coronavirus, the job market in Bangladesh, as in other countries globally, is likely to shrink further over fears of an imminent global recession. It will not return to normal until the economy of Bangladesh returns to its previous state. And there is no certainty as to when that will happen.
Economists say that families of educated unemployed people are not normally poor as per the poverty line. However, due to the current critical period, they have fallen into poverty.
The government is providing incentive assistance of Tk30,000 crore to big businesses even though they are not poor at all. For the same reason, financial assistance also applies to those families who are educated unemployed and at risk of loss of livelihood and starvation.
Because of an unprecedented situation, different countries in the world have come out of the traditional trend and launched various social programmes. Countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, China and India have extended support to people of all classes.
Sabetri says she would not have needed any financial aid had she had the opportunity to do tuition.
As her results are good, she has applied for different jobs, including the post of a lecturer in some private universities. But due to a lack of money, she cannot go to Dhaka to take the job tests.
Sabetri said her father's medicines cost Tk4,000 every month while that for her mother costs more than Tk1,000.
When will the government stand by them if it does not do it at this time? Asked Zahid Hussain, former lead economist at the World Bank's Dhaka office.
"It is not an issue of the Ministry of Relief and Disaster Management alone because there are specific rules for getting relief. These people need to be brought under the social safety net which falls under the responsibility of the Ministry of Social Welfare."
Zahid also said such families did not need relief or assistance before as they were economically solvent. Now, it is not possible for the educated unemployed, who are in a crisis of livelihood, to deal with this problem alone. They need help. Social safety activities need to be expanded beyond the traditional idea.
Meanwhile, no government agency agrees to take responsibility for the educated unemployed.
Mohammad Zainul Bari, secretary of the social welfare ministry, said the constitution of Bangladesh clarifies who will come under the social safety net programmes. Educated unemployed or those who are not getting a job will not be covered by it.
There are other government programmes for them, such as training and lending, he also said.
"The educated unemployed, who are in a bad condition at this time, can get food aid. The relief ministry should look into the issue; we have nothing to do here," he said.
But an official of the relief ministry, on condition of anonymity, said the policy of the ministry does not consider the educated unemployed as eligible for relief.
Relief is being provided to low-income people who used to work on a daily basis but have become destitute due to the lockdown, he said.
Ahsan H Mansur, executive director of the Policy Research Institute, said the coronavirus has already left 1.5-2 crore people unemployed in the country.
If their families are counted, this number is about five crores. As a result, they need constant help. For this reason, the next budget should make a large allocation for these people, according to Mansur.