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The week in re(ar)view

What goes round……..
There must be some form of poetic justice in the world after all. On 25 May Energy Adviser Mahmudur Rahman got stuck underground in Barapukuria coal mine when the lift became we inoperative due to electricity failure. He was there for all of 45 minutes.

Apparently realisation dawns on him that it is because of the use of faulty machinery. You think he has learned his lesson? We are holding bets at the RS cubicle and so far the odds are against him learning anything whatsoever.

Fade to white
Finance Minister M Saifur Rahman said money whitening will no longer be allowed come next budget. Yep, now that everyone is done with making all their black money fair and lovely let's put a stop to it. All you have to do is pay a mere 7.5 percent tax to make your black money go all sparkly clean. It's an amazing country we live in where laws exist to legalise illegal activities.

Ever notice how posh areas like Gulshan and Banani get filled with wonderful streams of water at the slightest hint of rain? We were driving through a week ago when this happened and we enjoyed a nice time splashing lowly pedestrians (one stray dog) with water. Our complaint is why can't we have such beautiful swimming pools in our areas like Lalmatia and Jigatola?

By Gokhra and Mood Dude

National child parliament session 2006
Children speak up against physical punishment

"Teachers are addicted to punishments. They should be barred from bringing fences at class as we get scared to see those and forget what we learnt,” said Tonmoy Kundu, a child parliamentarian.

“We cannot know the real history of our country as it is changed when a new party takes office,” said Ashraful Islam, another parliamentarian from Kushtia.

The fifth session of the National Child Parliament (CP) session 2006 ended on May 29 with recommendations from the participants. On the second day the topic was 'good quality education'.

CP is a symbolic structure where children can discuss their needs and problems.

Child parliamentarians from 64 districts took part in the two-day session to discuss the overall situation of education across the country.

The leading topic of the discussion was 'physical punishment on students in the learning place'. The parliamentarians, students themselves, were vociferous against teachers' mindless punishment imposed on under-aged students.

Most were victims of physical punishment themselves. Bithi, a parliamentarian, said: “teachers punish us in humiliating ways by shoving our heads under the table. We need love from our teachers not punishment.”

They said there are 34 ways to punish students physically. They pointed out many examples of physical punishment like one student took his life in humiliation after being spanked 63 times by his teacher, one was slapped with such force that he was deafened. There were other stories of broken hands, teeth and torn ears. They urged the print media to earmark these teachers for exemplary punishment.

One reason for leaving school was students' fear of their teachers and these punishments deterred their mental growth, they observed.

The way they spoke against physical punishment and teachers' behaviour towards them it was obvious that most of them lost respect for teachers. One member said that teachers are 'addicted' to punishment.

They recommended a monitoring committee and teachers' psychological training before recruiting and demanded a new law to stop this.

The parliamentarians were very witty with a sharp sense of humour. The whole session was filled with their little jibes towards the existing system.

The children came from the district towns and village schools but were quite smart. The whole session was very lively, entertaining and quite impressive. They were not pretentious in the least. They just spoke up their minds and piped up spontaneously.

The speaker was very strict and somewhat rude to the parliamentarians but his conduct of the vendetta was excellent.

Among other topics discussed was lack of sports and entertainment, private coaching business, lack of free text books, distortion of history, teachers' indifference in taking class, free text books till class nine, preventing mental and physical torture, spelling mistakes in text books etc.

In May 2002, a special session for children took place in United Nations General Assembly. At the same time 'Tangail zila shishu porishod' arranged a shadow session following the UN example. Therefore, the idea of child parliament was conceived.

State Minister for Education Ehsanul Haque Milon was the chief guest of the programme. He said it will take time to make new law to stop physical punishment.

Shariful Islam Talukdar was the speaker and Sayeedur Rahman and Nargis Akhtar were deputy speakers of the session.

Save the children Australia gives technical and financial assistance to CP.

By Durdana Ghias

Teen central
Dealing with divorced parents

The divorce of their parents may be one of the most grievous, traumatic and humiliating experiences of a child's lifetime. And it can be a more harrowing event if it occurs during the expanse of one's teenage lifetime, at a point in time when the teenager has enough of physical and mental changes to go through without having the additional trauma of a divorce.

Our parents are our closest, most beloved treasures, and no child ever wants to lose any one of the two. So how does a teenager of divorced parents feel? How does he/she view the parents after their divorce? In order to learn a bit more about this sort of situation I dug up quite a few different reactions from different teenagers I know personally. Read on…if you are suffering from similar troubles at home, you may be able to relate to these people and know that you're not alone.

Sami (not his real name) is currently living alone with his mother. She used to be a housewife prior to the divorce, but ever since Sami's father left the scene because of another woman, she has opened a personal catering service to meet their daily needs. When asked how he views his father now, 16-year old Sami replies, somewhat vehemently, “ Thank goodness he has gone out of our lives! I can't stand the mere sight of him, not after what he has reduced my mother and me to. Heaven forbid, if I was a bit older I might have punched him in the face every time I met him!”

Now, while that may be too violent a reaction, studies show that many children of divorced parents do tend to move about with bottled-up anger at one, or both, of their parents. This could be the result of many things, such as hatred spouting from any form of violence involved in the eventual divorce, embarrassment at having two parents behave irrationally with each other, anger at them because they chose to create a mountain out of a molehill and ruin the child's life during a very important period in his life, or just plain humiliation. This is revealed by the feelings of 15-year old Reva and 17-year old Imran. Reva says, “Each day of my life is like torture to me. My parents chose to get a divorce right before my O' Level exams. With the worry and grief at the thought of losing the two people I love the most in this world, I have performed very badly in my exams. I hate to say it, but the people who nurtured my life have also almost ruined my future.” On the other hand, Imran says, “I used to see my parents fight day and night before. Now I live with my father, and he is a completely changed being. He never supports or encourages me about anything. I don't feel him getting involved in my life. He has sort of taken to ignoring me. But I, instead of feeling angry, tend to feel ashamed. I know I'm being irrational, but even then, I believe that I was somehow to blame for this divorce three years ago. And the lack of affection for me I see in both my parents' eyes just reconfirm this belief of mine”.

Believe it or not, Imran's feelings are shared by countless teenagers across the globe. A divorce is usually a decision made by the parents with little or no consultation on part of the children involved. At such times, the teenager tends to believe that he/she may be the root cause of the divorce, especially when the parents start fighting about custody matters, and arguing about who had how much influence in their child's life. Needless to say, any teenager requires full attention from both parents in order to live a fulfilled life.

While it is easy to say that the teenager who is an only child goes through the greatest amount of frustrations, the stress on siblings are not any less.

Take 16-year old Rashid for instance. He says, “My parents thought I could deal with their divorce. Maybe they were disillusioned, but what angers me more is that they never spared a thought as to what would happen to my younger sister, who's just 8 years old. Who is to provide for both our studies, and at least her proper childhood upbringing, after the divorce? I sometimes feel that I'll soon have to quit my studies, get a job, and provide a safe living for my dear sister.”

Of course, in many situations, the divorce is seen to have been the best solution to many problems. In the case of husbands beating up wives, for instance, or in case of extramarital affairs, a divorce is undoubtedly the easiest solution to the problem. But it is not always an easy solution for the children, especially the teenagers.

I may not have examined all of the countless possible scenarios of the life of a child with divorced parents, but nevertheless, the universal truth is that every child is incomplete without both their parents' guiding hands.

Different teenagers deal with this situation in different manners. Some recover to grow an optimistic view of the future, while others tend to waste their lives living in the past. Suicide, drugs, smoking and drinking are not unheard of effects on a child whose parents are divorced.

This may be true more so, if the residing parent is uncaring of the needs of the teenager and his/her problems. While nothing I say or write may influence any of you teenagers in similar situations like those mentioned above, I hope you will all look around you and realize that there are other teenagers going through the same phases of stress that you are, and quite a few of them have emerged from these situations with nothing but very small wounds in the heart.

So be strong, believe in yourself and your ability to survive, and then you may truly become a survivor of one of the harshest realities society has to provide in today's world.

By Ferzeen Anis
Another point of advice from RS is never quit studying. No matter how harsh reality becomes or how frustrated you feel, its just a phase in life that you will pass. Your degrees -good or bad- will help you get through this ordeal smoothly. Once you can support yourself or your sibling both financially and emotionally then you really don’t need to stick around emotionally distressed adults. They can ruin your life for a short time but not forever. Be your own man.-RS Editor

Outrage at DOHS

I was preparing for my O'levels exam in my cosy study table that evening when all of a sudden everything turned dark and silent.

Never mind, it was a routine load-shedding. I took a charge lamp and returned to my study table and carried on with my studies.

After nearly two hours, the electricity returned. Who knew it was only the beginning of our ordeal? The electricity left us again early at night, came back and then left us again for the better part of that night.

My family and I could not sleep the whole sultry night. I was drowsy the next day. It turned out to be very hard for me to pay attention in the classes. For this reason, my teacher who thought I was trying to bunk my lessons, scolded me. In my anguish I came back home and guess what, the electricity betrayed us again.

This time I was mad. I could not help wondering what would happen to the girl whose O' levels exams are just knocking at the door.

I was devastated and called up the electric supply office to learn the reason behind the frequent load shedding out here in an area like the DOHS. A man named Kamrul picked up the phone and I asked him what is wrong with the electricity in DOHS. He exclaimed, madam our whole department and I are trying to resume the power supply to your area but failed. I asked him why this was so. He said, “To be honest madam we don't have much power supply.”

I expected our conversation to be a fruitful one but it turned out futile.

Day by day the frequency of power failures increased, so did my headache.

I finished my exams amid a lot of suffering. I could done a lot better had I not been distracted by load shedding. I am sure many others like me are similarly victimised and looking forward to a solution to this problem.

On behalf of the inhabitants of my area today I am raising the issue to you. We the sufferers cordially request the power ministry to look through this problem and find us a solution.

By Farisa


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