Students trapped in a Limbo
Saad Adnan Khan
Photos:Kazi Tahsin Agaz Apurbo
Models: Meygha, Fardin, Tousif, Orchid, Ananya, Taef
The politicians of the country have been playing roles of absurdist comedians for some time now. Here's what funny and absurd about them: they give repetitive, hollow speeches, devoid of any true meaning or proposition. They howl at the top of their voices, stretching words sonorously, exposing their tongue and gum, jutting out their teeth. They frantically wiggle finger at the mass, thinking that that will change the nation. Here is what is not funny about them: they call successive hartals, choosing to be oblivious to the hindrance that will bring to the economic progress of the country in every way possible, including affecting the future of the nation- the students. They destroy public and private properties, instead of protecting the citizens. It feels like the country is run by bullies in a classroom, who wage in egoistic, hormone-driven challenges with other rivalries, without any qualms and, basically, do whatever they feel like.
The temporary halt in the education sector during the hartals can have long lasting effects.
The last two weeks of hartals called by BNP, displayed a level of recklessness that was beyond comprehension. Students, being one of the worst victim groups of such politics, tried to study for their HSC exams, semester finals and do their make-up classes and assignments amidst such hostility. While some managed to pass this ordeal with luck, some got stuck and faced sheer confusion and hopelessness.
HSC candidates dealt with one blow after another due to hartals--their exams got postponed. The candidates have been preparing for higher level exams for months. They have been studying at homes, coaching centres and with friends and taking preparation with care and patience. The stress that they have to deal with while studying for these exams is enough to put them on the edges. Added to that, the students faced not only uncertainty, but also violence and rampage as the hartals unraveled. How can one expect students to sit for exams, when they are not in their sound minds because of the political condition?
Can students flourish amidst so much hostilty?
“I had a Chemistry exam on April 29, which got rescheduled on May 4. I got to know the news the evening before the day off the exam. Imagine the frustration I went through then, when I was all prepared to sit for the exam, only to find out that the exam will take place later. The Math exam is on May 17, which is a particularly difficult subject. I was looking forward to use the available gap before the exam to study for Math only, but now I have to worry about my Chemistry exam too,” says Tamim Arman, an HSC candidate. “Students lose patience and confidence if exams get postponed. What is the guarantee that the Math exam on May 17 will not get postponed?” says Zubayer Ahmed, an HSC candidate. “The Thursday that the “Bikkhop” was held on, was a particularly difficult day, because many students reached the exam hall just 10 minutes before the exam due to road blocks and the disorder,” says Aurpa Mahjabeen, an HSC candidate.
Due to dirty politics, students are being denied access to education.
Even though hartals brought momentary euphoria among students in universities, the strikes eventually turned out to be reasons for extreme anxiety among them. The last few weeks were the final terms in most private universities. The final terms are times of distress for students at any university, when they have to meet deadlines of assignments and get all frustrated and impatient for the semester to end. Due to the hartals, the classes got cancelled and exams got postponed. What is worse is that they had to do make-up classes of all the courses on weekends, which meant that they had to do one single class for three hours at a stretch in order to cover the lessons that were missed because of the hartals.
“Due to the hartals, my exams were rescheduled again and again. There was confusion regarding the dates. As students, we do not want any kind of extra stress during our finals, but the hartals worsened the situation for us. The exams were rescheduled in such a way later on that the students could not decide how to prepare, because when I had to prepare for my Bangladesh studies course, it was seen that I was studying for my marketing course,” says Abir Hassan, an undergraduate student of Business Studies, University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh.
Intellect and creativity is thwarted as students face dilemma and confusion.
Students in public universities faced a dilemma regarding the rescheduling of classes and exams as well. The idea of “Session jam” was almost ruled out from campuses, but the recent hartals seemed to have brought it back, when students faced difficulty in holding make-up classes and fixing dates for exams.
“I could not meet my teachers regarding my assignment proposal, as a result I could not work on my research on time. Our finals will take place in the last week of May, but there is still a lot to cover from the syllabus. Because of the classes missed during the hartals, teachers cover 2 to 3 topics in one single class, which is stressful for students. That way, the topics are not studied properly as well,” says Jannatul Ferdowsh, a Master's student of International Relations, University of Dhaka.
It seems that the country does not have the students' backs.
“I am a working student. I work on weekdays and do my Master's classes on weekends. The hartals messed up the entire routine. I had to go to office in the hartals, for which my biggest problem was the transportation cost. I had to go to Motijheel from Mohammadpur on a rickshaw during the hartals, where I use the bus on other days. I spent Tk 300-400 every single day for transportation. On top of that, I was also worried about my security, because there was a lot of mayhem on the streets. Due to hartals on April 22, 23 and 24, one of my exams took place on April 25. It was a working day for me, and I had to skip work,” says Nabila Zaman, a Master's student of Economics, East West University. She works at a credit rating agency.
Students should not have to deal with chaos, when they have to study.
The hartals did not only create problems for students, but also teachers. “There was utter confusion. Students kept calling, asking about the dates of the exams, but even the teachers and the administrators were confused. Moreover, the students were very ill-prepared for the exams, because by the time they sat for the exams, they had lost interest. Since the exams took place late and students handed over assignments later than usual, we got a very short time to check them and submit the marks on time. It used to be different before. The government made sure that there would be electricity and that there would be no hartals during the time of SSC and HSC exams. But now, no one is exempt from the insanity of our politics,” says Nazia Manzoor, a Lecturer of Department of English, East West University.
Education should be the sole concern of students, but is this the case of students here?
According to a Daily Star report, Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid expressed concern regarding how the hartals are basically destroying the education sector of the nation. “The families of these students (SSC and HSC) are concerned about the future of their children and we are worried too. These insensible hartal programmes have hit the country's education system hard,” he said to the newspaper. The pleas and suffering of the citizenry is out in the open for the government to witness. This is not the first time that a political party has violated the very laws of the constitution and that too, so vulgarly. We are over hearing that they are concerned, because we await some action, and not promises and empty words. We are over.
The anger and frustation students face here are reasons for them to leave the country and study abroad.