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     Volume 7 Issue 15 | April 11, 2008 |

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National Unity a Must
The upcoming dialogue with the political parties must focus on reform
With the general election in the offing the government has rightly decided to start dialogue with the political parties. This move, good that it is, has augured well with the parties, without whose support the government will find it difficult, if not impossible, to hold the election free from the vile powers of money and muscle. The parties, for their turn, must focus on their own reform, the lack of which has paved the way to the events of January 11 last year. They must vow not to go back to the politics of confrontation and anarchy that our country was plagued with a year ago. A national consensus on certain issues such as economy, corruption, the trial of war criminals, food and national security must be reached to make sure regime change remains smooth and, more importantly, beneficial for people. The country is at a crossroads now, it is the time both the government and the political parties should rise up to the occasion and face the challenge that the new millennium has thrown at them.

Too Many Holidays for Kids

As if the schools of Bangladesh did not already have enough bad press, now it has been revealed that students of Bangladesh spend the least amount of time in school compared to all other children in SAARC countries. According to the sources at the education ministry, students of these schools get less than 30 hours per week to interact with teachers, much lower than that of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Nepal, Bhutan and Afghanistan.
In many countries school timing is from nine in the morning to four in the afternoon, with time slots allotted for academic work, extra-curricular activities where teachers can nurture students creativity and they also learn how to work on projects based on real-life scenarios in groups. In many schools in Bangladesh students are cramped inside claustrophobic classrooms throughout the day where learning involves memorising and spoon-feeding by the teachers. But now it seems that even the time spent in classrooms is less than other countries in the region. To realise the maximum potential of children, it is extremely important that the teacher-student ratio is kept to minimum and that students and teachers interact as much as possible.
Besides the official 137- holidays the schools of the country face closure many times a year during natural calamities like floods, bad weather and political unrest. All these factors are unpredictable and put pressure on another form of bad educational practice -- private tuition, which is the worst form of spoon feeding which brings the effort from children to know about an issue to a minimum and puts maximum pressure on their power to memorise. The government needs to pay more attention on teaching techniques in school. In the light of the recent finding, this attention is even more crucial to do.

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