Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, February 3, 2005




A Wake up Call

By Mohammad Hammad Ali

In a proper democracy, there should be no room for violence. Any act of intolerance and terrorism has to be met with a strong effort towards justice. It does not matter whether the victim is rich or poor, nor does it matter what his religious or political affiliations are. Every man has the right to a safe life, and the right to a natural death, as opposed to succumbing to bomb blasts or being hacked by knives on their way back home one night. However, that does not seem to be happening in the present day Bangladesh. Worse still, nobody seems to care.

I will not pretend to have known the Late Mr. Kibria. I do not need to have known him at all. What I do know about him is that he was a human being, a citizen of this country. He had the right to vote, and also had the right to complain about, or protest against, any unfair actions. Mr. Kibria had the right to arrange a rally to protest against any action that he felt to be unjust.

At the end of the rally, the ex-Minister had the right to go back home, to his family, and relax before yet another day of work. But that was not what happened. Just as the rally was about to end, bombs were showered in their direction. Mr. Kibria was gravely injured, and passed away while being brought to Dhaka in an ambulance. Mr. Kibria was a mere mortal. Sooner or later he would have had to bed farewell to the country that he worked for, to his family and his many friends. But it did not have to happen this way, covered in blood and experiencing a painful death in a speeding ambulance. He deserved better.

I will not blame anyone for the bombings. Now is not the time for idle speculation and mud slinging. Bomb blasts have been taking place all over the country for quite a while now. Till now, most of the victims were common men. Not that the life of a farmer or a labored is any less important than that of the President, but that concept is not accepted in Bangladesh. However, this time the victim is one of the most important figures in the political scenario of the country. Hopefully, now some actions will finally be taken.

The management of this country is the responsibility of the Government, although in order for democratic rule to be ensured they do need assistance from the Opposition as well. Nevertheless, if such blatant acts of violence and intolerance go unpunished, the real victim is actually the Government, because it is their competence that comes in question, and it is their credibility that is compromised. There is no shame in conducting a proper investigation and punishing the culprit, no matter how influential they may be. It is of much more shame if such acts go unpunished, and the wrongdoers interpret that as a sign of weakness.

I am not questioning the intentions of the Government. I do not wish to doubt the sincerity of anyone. No matter how incomprehensible to people like me, there must have been some reason why all the past bomb blast incidents, including the one of 21st August, were not investigated. But now the line has been crossed. If no actions are taken at this very moment, we may soon fall into an abyss of anarchism and terror from which there will be no escape.

Surely no one who loves this country can want anything of the sort to happen. Nothing lasts forever. If the murderers are not found and punished as soon as possible, soon the ruling coalition might find themselves on the receiving end of such atrocities. This monster has to be slain before it becomes too strong. The entire country hopes that both the major parties, and for that matter each and every party will forget all their differences and come together to defeat whatever evil force is responsible for these murders.

This is not the time for baseless accusations and name-calling. Nor is it the time to declare strikes for days on end and bring the country to a standstill.

While the two main parties fight among themselves, some third front could try and exterminate them both. Surely no sensible person would want that. Here I finish with the hope that we will finally get to see a coalition for all those who believe in democracy and the rule of law, for the sake of a better Bangladesh.


By Maherin Ahmed

No matter where you live or what language you speak, math, science and technology play an important part in your everyday life. Take a look around, and you'll start to notice that math, science and technology are everywhere! The last decade has been a revolution- a technological revolution. Each and every one of us has been captured in the net of computer, cell phone, microwave and what not. Clerical jobs have been replaced by computer based jobs. The concept of book keeping does not exist anymore. It is estimated that by the next decade all jobs will be science based. This has given a caution to the wind- it is usually considered that girls are less interested in science and maths, and hence they are not as good compared to their male counterparts. Does that mean job opportunies for girls are being shut down?

According to the commission reports and the National Center for Education Statistics published in 2000-An equal number of boys and girls are interested in math and science in the elementary grades, but by the sixth grade, girls begin to disengage from the two subjects. A lot of research has been carried out to derive the reason of this differentiation. It is explained by understanding the demands of human ancestry. What have men needed to do in order to be sexually successful? A lot. They've needed to stand out from the crowd with superior hunting abilities and fighting abilities, they've needed to be strong willed, determined, courageous, ingenious, creative....

Men have been tested by women through the ages. Women have needed to put out. They've needed to look good. They've needed to be desirable in ways which really didn't assist them in becoming more competent or self reliant animals. Summarizing-Women have evolved to look good while men have evolved to function well. This pre mind set has been an impediment for the girls to shine in technical subjects. The problem does not lie with the brain; it lies as to how it has been programmed.

Girls are far from parity with men on their SATs in both the math and verbal sections. On average boys surpass girls. However, it is a statistical anomaly that there are more girls going on to college than boys in USA.

Boys and girls tested in Virginia public schools perform similarly in math and science. "We really don't have a gender gap in terms of our [Standards of Learning] tests between male and female students, nor does there appear to be a gender gap with the [National Assessment Educational Progress], "Girls attending D.C. Public Schools "outperform our boys on standardized tests," says Bill Caritj, assistant superintendent for educational accountability for the school district. "It is fairly consistent across grade levels and across subjects."

When put this question to Epshita, a pure science student, she said that she believes both boys and girls can excel in science if they find the subject interesting. Nowadays it is common for girls to pursue a medical career or become an engineer or enter research related fields and so on. It is a matter of brainwork, which girls are no less capable of doing compared to boys. When the same question was asked to mother of a science student, she commented that people should study what they find interesting while keeping in mind their strengths and weaknesses. Science related careers are appropriate for both genders, and boys and girls can both perform equally well.

Everyone can learn math, and everyone can learn science. It's often hard for girls to get a good science and math education. It is because people don't expect girls to do well in these subjects. This isn't exactly a self-esteem booster for girls. When they are young, girls don't have as many toys that encourage them to build, explore, or tinker. Girls aren't always treated equally in class. They need their fair share of teacher time and "hands-on" experience. They prefer to learn in groups where they can talk, work together, and help each other. Instead, they often have to work silently and alone.

We don't see many women role models in science and math careers. In fact, we experience pressure from their friends NOT to do well in math and science at school. This means they may be teased for being "nerdy" or unfeminine if they try to do well in math and science courses.

Since the mind has been set to function in a certain way and the problem lies not with the brain, it can be "re-programmed" to make science of and for the girls. Here's what parents can do:

Having high expectations for girls is important. Tell them they can do just as well as boys in science and math because they can. Without meaning to, we may put limits on what your daughters think they can achieve. This well-meaning comment may hurt: "Don't worry about doing badly on your math test. Your mother never liked math either." This kind can help: "Let's talk to your teacher and find out how you can do better. I know you can do well in math. And it's an important subject".

Insist that your daughters take science and math courses every year. Watch out for algebra in the 8th grade - be sure she takes this course. Girls who do not plan to work outside the home may want or need to later. Math keeps doors open. Out-of-school activities are often the most important. Find programs for girls at local museums, libraries, community centres, and after-school programs. Sign your daughter up. Look for female role models in your community for them to look up to.

The problem is like that of global warming. Since the deadening is not instant but a gradual one, it does not affect our everyday lives and does not bother us if at all. When it will if not thought-out, it might be too late…………



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