To say that education is in a shambles in this country would be as clichéd as saying that a nation cannot develop without education. The recent nationwide strikes by government and non-government school and college teachers speak volumes about a sector grossly neglected by successive governments. Several hundred community primary teachers under the banner of 'Bangladesh Community Primary Teachers Association' have continued their fast-unto-death strike at the Central Shaeed Minar demanding nationalisation of their jobs. According to a Daily Star report, the president of the association referred to the fact that even as early as October 2000, during their movement, BNP stalwart (now LGRD Minister) Abdul Mannan Bhuiya had promised the teachers that all their demands would be met once the BNP came to power. But the teachers have bitterly come to realise that these were empty promises as even at the end of their tenure, the ruling party has shown very little compassion to the aggrieved teachers. Meanwhile schools and colleges across the country remain closed depriving students of their basic right to learn. Recently the closure of colleges has hampered the Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) examinations, as they had to be deferred because of the strike. The demands of the teachers include - the end of wage discrimination and introduction of school-based examination system.
Teachers in this country are often criticised for their lack of commitment towards their profession and in many cases the blame is valid. But unless their basic needs are met, which includes salaries that allow them to lead decent lives, there is no point in accusing them of not being dedicated enough.
Hotter than Hades
In a recent report by the National Academy of Sciences, the Earth has reached it's most scalding in the last 400 years. A panel of top climate scientists stated to lawmakers that human activities are a major factor for the cause of these recent developments. The average global surface temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere rose around 1 degree during the 20th century. Evidence of the fact is in retreating glaciers. Other research by Kevin Trenberth and Dennis Shea of the Commerce Department's National Center for Atmospheric Research reveal that in 2005 Global Warming was the cause of approximately half of the hurricane-fueled warmth in the North Atlantic and natural cycles were a minor component. The Bush administration stated that the threat is not serious enough to sanction new pollution controls. According to the White House, these pollution controls are said to cost five million Americans their jobs. The recent heat is unusual for at least the last 400 years and substantially the last several millennia.
Rising Drug Addiction
The total number of drug addicts in Bangladesh has been estimated to be 2.5 million. Among them, youths aged 15-25 were the top users. According to a yearly report, six percent of drug users were children. In 2003 and 2004, the number dramatically increased to 13 percent and in 2005 and 2006, it rose to 17.87. Under priveleged children are most likely to abuse drugs. Children ages 8-12 are used to selling illicit drugs.
In honour of International Day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking, an anti drug campaign was held in Mymensingh by a number of youths which drew major attention of locals and officials. Drug use dramatically decreased in the last month in the area.
Exam Results and Suicides
The enormous pressure placed on students every year during the SSC and HSC exams has given rise to a very alarming trend: suicide. Every year many young people unable to bear their parents reprimands and psychological abuse take refuge of such an extreme measure.
Four girls from the south-western districts committed suicide in the SSC examinations held under Jessore Education Board this year.
Jasmin Akhter, 16, who appeared at the examination from Pilot Secondary School in Satkhira Sadar upazila took poison and ended her life Thursday midnight. She failed in the SSC examination for the second year in a row.
Rashida Khatoon, 17, daughter of Insar Ali Sarder of Basuntia village in Keshabpur upazila in Jessore, committed suicide by hanging herself with a scarf in her bedroom on the same night. She had appeared at the SSC examination from Keshabpur Girls High School.
On Friday night, Chandana Khatoon, 18, daughter of Abu Bakr of Bijulia village in Shailkupa upazila in Magura, committed suicide by hanging. She had appeared at SSC examination four times.
Umme Toushila Akhter Meera, 17, daughter of Ashraful Huq of Kamalpur in Alomadanga upazila of Chuadanga, took her life by hanging herself Friday morning.
In a slightly different incident two students with GPA-5 in SSC examination committed suicide yesterday as they were rebuked by their parents for their alleged affair.
Faruq Hossain, 17, son of Md. Mozammel Hossain, and Ankhi Akhter, 16, daughter of Rafiqul Islam, were residents of Halishahar Block-B residential area in the port city. They appeared at the SSC examination from Halishahar Housing Estate High School under Chittagong Education Board. Both got GPA-5.
After the results were out, Faruq went to Ankhi's residence with sweets Friday evening to convey his result and greet Ankhi for her success. Ankhia's parents scolded Faruq for his affair with their daughter.
Learning this, Faruq's parents also rebuked him. Reprimanded by both sides, emotionally charged Faruq entered his room at around 10pm and took poison.
He was rushed to Chittagong Medical College Hospital (CMCH) where he died at around 3am.
When Ankhi got the news, she ended her life by hanging herself from a ceiling fan with a scarf in her room at around 7:30 am.
(R) thedailystar.net 2006