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     Volume 7 Issue 10 | March 7, 2008 |

  Cover Story
  Straight Talk
  Special Feature
  Human Rights
  Writing the Wrong
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  View from the   Bottom
  Dhaka Diary
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Death of a Legend
Bazlur Rahman, legendary editor of the daily Sangbad and an icon of Bangladeshi journalism, passed away last week. He suffered from a cardiac arrest. Born on August 3, 1941, Rahman graduated in Economics from Dhaka University. Rahman was actively involved in the communist movement of the country in the sixties and early seventies. He was a member of the Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) and the National Awami Party; he has also edited the Ekata, the weekly of the CPB. He joined the daily Sangbad in 1961, where he worked till his death on February 27.
Rahman was a true journalist; he had a nose for news. Throughout his career when some of his fellow journalists switched their allegiances from news to different political beliefs, Rahman remained accountable to his readers, loyal to the profession. Rahman, along with his wife Awami League presidium member Matia Chowdhury have remained an icon of honesty and dedication in Bangladeshi life.
A valiant freedom fighter, he was also a member of the boards of directors of Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha and Bangladesh Press Council. His death renders an irreparable blow to the journalism of the country. His presence will be sorely missed.

Difference in Education Spells Social Disparity
It is ironical that a sector as crucial to national development as education has been one of the most neglected since the country's independence. Over the last three decades or so the standard of education has deteriorated drastically despite various governments boasting an increase number of primary and secondary schools. The result has been an education sector with at least three different mediums of instruction and innumerable discrepancies in standards. The most blatant one is the difference in standards between rural schools and urban schools. This is most disheartening considering the fact that in pre-independence times rural schools were just as good as the urban ones, a fact proven by successful and eminent people who were the products of these schools. Our Chief advisor, in a welcome move, has called for removing the disparity in the education system between the rural and urban educational institutions that ultimately lead to a divided society.
The Chief Advisor emphasised the need to increase the public sector allocation for education. He mentioned that Bangladesh spends a little over two-percent of GDP as public sector allocation for education, which is quite low. He said that the ratio needs to double within the next decade and the share of government budget for education needs to increase proportionately from the present level of under 15 percent. The Chief Advisor was inaugurating a three-day conference at his office organised by Unesco and Bangladesh National Commission for Unesco in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education.
The chief advisor added that just increasing spending on education was not enough, the resources have to be used efficiently and effectively. He said that the electronic media had an important role in education. While computer and internet facilities were out of the reach of most people, the state-run Bangladesh Television (BTV) had the necessary infrastructure for setting up a 24-hour educational channel.
He suggested that an independent authority can ensure that the channel is used optimally and effectively for high priority purposes, such as teachers' training and support, literacy and continuing education, supplementing formal primary and secondary classroom instruction, Open University courses, English language instruction, and technical and vocational education.
According to Dr Manzoor Ahmed, director of Institute of Educational Development at Brac University who was a key speaker at the conference, education system in the country consists of 150,000 institutions, 34 million students and over 900,000 teachers. Primary and secondary level institutions naturally form the bulk of the system, with about 20 million students in primary education including madrasas and non-formal programmes and about 11 million students at the secondary level including madrasas.

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