Creation of a Knowledge-based Society
The speech given by the Chief Adviser Dr Fakhruddin Ahmed at a programme last week, in which he emphasised on the creation of a knowledge-based society, is an important one. Our future as a modern democratic nation, in fact, largely depends on it. To stride forward, the country desperately needs researchers who will be able to tackle problems like population growth, river erosion, scarcity of food and poverty head on, giving solutions to these complex problems that the country is now riddled with. There is no denying the fact that teachers, especially who work at different public universities have an important role to play. The government should also increase funds on researches; more institutes should be set up. Teachers and the government must keep this in mind that growth, both economic and social, is directly proportional to the creation of a society based on knowledge, which, for its turn, will thrive on scientific discovery and innovation. Our goal should be the establishment of a middle-income country by the year 2015.
Us… and 'Them'
There are around 70,000 people from the Mro community living in the Bandarban district of the Chittagong Hill Tracts. This is the first time three people have been able to get into an institution of higher education. Younguang Mro, and two of his friends recently got places at Chittagong University.
These alarmingly low education statistics are not surprising given the general sense of disregard for the entire minority population of the country, especially the Adibashis. There are very few government primary schools in the hill regions and most of the 11 official Adibashi languages are slowly becoming extinct. The only places in Bangladesh where we seem to appreciate the culturally diverse presence of the Adibashis is inside the beauty parlours, where Adibashi women are preferred to carry out low-skilled jobs like haircuts and massages.
Only 18 percent of the country's literate people are from 45 Adibashi communities, and only 8 percent of them are women. Persistent political and economic discrimination towards the Adibashis contribute to a high level of dropout rate at primary level education. Even more drop out at the secondary level, and only a very few are lucky enough to have access to higher education.
To give only one example of the economic disenfranchisement of Adibashi community, while the whole country has been enjoying unrivalled cell phone coverage, the three districts of Chittagong Hill Tracts have had a ban on mobile phone coverage for a decade. Only recently, after persistent newspaper reports on the issue and special highlights in the recently published Ain Salish Kendra 2007 Human Rights Report, did the caretaker government announce that Rangamati, Khagrachari and Bandarban would finally receive mobile coverage.
In the meantime, the only way to develop our country is to develop all people of the country. This means providing all people with education, regardless of gender, religion or ethnic origin.
Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2008