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Sunfest 2007
December 30, 2006 to January 3, 2007

Bangladesh Astronomical Association is organizing the annual Sun Festival for nature lovers and those seeking an adventurous outlet. Travel through spectacular local natural beauty and spend time out in the open to catch the first glimpse of the New Year's rising sun. The majority of the trip will be spent on a boat traveling along Tangua Haor where discomfort can often be the order of the day. Participants will be required to rough it like true adventurers making do with bare essentials. Accompanying the travelers this trip is Bangladesh Bird Club as well as Centre for Natural Resource Studies.

Permissible carry-on items:
Sleeping bag, 2 t-shirts, 2 thick trousers, headgear to protect from cold, sneakers, socks, light jacket, two-in-one trouser, sun cap, torch, battery, spare bulb, strapped water bottle, binocular, diary, pen, sunscreen lotion, towel, dining plate, drinking mug or tumbler, spoon/fork and books to read.

Excess baggage is not acceptable. Take only what cannot be done without.

Photographers using film cameras are suggested to take as much film as possible because the trip contains so much natural beauty to record for posterity.

Torch is one of the most important tools and spare bulbs are encouraged.

Littering is strictly prohibited. Any wrapper or casing must be kept with the person until an appropriate location for disposal is reached.

Accommodations are under on the boat in the wild under the open sky.

All drugs and liquor strictly prohibited.

It's going to be an adventure to remember.

Participants need to register by 24 December, 2006. Another person can go instead of the original registered applicant. Per person cost will be taka 3500.

Dhaka-Tangua Haor, Sunamganj-Dhaka by bus.

All food requirements covered from December 31, 2006 till December 2, 2007.

Bangladesh Astronomical Society reserves all rights to make any changes to the trip as deemed necessary.

Contact: Bangladesh Astronomical Society, 75, Science Laboratory Road, Dhaka 1205 (2nd floor above Fops Tailor beside Coffee House in Elephant Road).
Phone: 01711187555

A case for private universities

A bright morning with refreshing breeze blowing in a small village called Laxmipur in Feni. I was spending my Eid holiday there. That morning, as usual, all my paternal relatives sat at the courtyard and discussed various issues. At some point education at different universities had to become the toast of the morning and so it did. One of my cynical uncles uttered, “The private universities are below standard compared to the public ones. One of my nephews passed from one and he is jobless. These institutions are good for nothing.”

The aforementioned is a typical scenario still prevailing in a society where private universities are relatively a new phenomenon. The disappointing fact is that information symmetry still remains a far-fetched reality in a country with comparatively well established media. Although I wouldn't blame my uncle or people similar to him directly one should realize that the proportion of unemployed graduates from public university easily outnumbers that of private ones. The rate of employment is determined by the prevailing job opportunities and the skills of the respected jobseeker in question and not so much by institutions from where they graduate. However, it should be noted that a small extent of discriminatory preference exists everywhere.

Some people would argue that private universities do not add much value to their pupil. If faculties with teaching experience in reputed foreign universities and highest regarded domestic ones cannot add value, then I am afraid this society is a valueless one. A number of private universities representing Bangladesh have participated in international debate competitions and made our country proud by capturing commendable positions and also overshadowing many of the world's highest ranked universities. In an era of globalization where international participation is becoming increasingly necessary, the students of private universities can boast this privilege more often.

A lot of ignorant critics assume that private universities do not have adequate infrastructure for proper education and lack care for students. State of the art computer lab with fiber optic internet connectivity, architecture lab, physics lab, multimedia projector in almost every class, well equipped libraries, space for group studies, hygienic canteens, leisure lounge, latest international journals and study materials, games and sports, air-conditioning are all part of most private universities. I am sure having these facilities not only make education more interactive and enlightening but it also assures comfortable learning experience for the students. Concerning care, each faculty is provided with “teacher's assistant” or TA who are always there to help out any students with their problems.

I hear a lot of people complaining about the behavior of the students of private universities in terms of dating which is supposed to be against the society and that we are not aware of our culture and history. I believe people with such accusation are still reminiscing their past when they were not allowed to go out for dating. I would suggest they visit any public university to clarify this matter and open up their eyes to see the transition the entire society is going through, instead of blaming private universities solely. Regarding culture, most private universities have exclusive cultural and drama clubs that continuously remind us about our core cultural values.

Critics should realize that the best universities in the world are mostly private including the IVY LEAGUE universities, Oxford, Cambridge, the list go on. The private universities in our country are not only filling the education gap but also making sure that we are globally competent. I would recommend the critics instead of showering pessimistic views on private universities they should assist us to progress further. We have enough talented individuals in both private and public universities to change our dreams into reality in terms of bringing prosperity to our beloved nation.

By Masroor Hussain

FIRST AID: From the past through the present to the future

If you got a cut only 1cm long, you wouldn't go get it stitched would you? What would you do if you burnt yourself? Probably put ice on the burn. How would you react if a person starts choking? Maybe you'd go up to him and try to help get lose whatever it is that's choking him. If one of your teeth gets knocked out (which has a high probability given the recent increase in gang fights around town) you would simply take yourself to a doctor to get your tooth fixed.

And do you know that if you react to all these situations in the manner stated above…you'd be COMPLETELY wrong??!! Yeah, you heard me right. FYI cuts less than 1cm long may be deep enough to require stitches; ice should NEVER be put on a burn because that reduces blood flow and would slow down healing instead, cool water should be run on the burn for at least 10 minutes; a choking person should be left as he is, unless he is unable to speak or cough, which would mean he is not breathing and requires help; and finally, the knocked out tooth should be placed in milk to have at least a good chance of saving the tooth.

If you did not know the above-mentioned facts about first-aid, then you should be very scared. Because that means you have zero knowledge when it comes to even basic first aid. You may want to deny it, but the truth is the truth. Sure, you know cuts need “Dettol” and band-aid, while headaches and fever require “Paracetamol”, but honestly, that's not all there is to first-aid.

Of course, it's not all your fault. Nobody's ever bothered to teach you first aid, have they? And why would you yourself want to waste time learning what goes inside a first-aid kit when there's so much other fun stuff to do? If you ever fall ill, hurt yourself, or feel plain exhausted, your parents simply come to the rescue with the right medicines and chicken soup. Ever wondered what would happen if they didn't know what to do with a hurt or sick kid? Ever wondered what's going to happen when this kind of responsibility falls upon your shoulders? Everyone's not a doctor after all.

It's a fact that nowadays few parents, schools, teachers, relatives, or any authority for that matter, teach kids first aid. In the 'good old days', it used to be compulsory in each and every school in Dhaka (of course, there weren't that many then) for kids to be taught everything regarding first aid. Kids used to start with learning what goes into a first aid kit, how such a kit should be organized, how, which and when medication and bandages should be used, up to the administration of CPR. For that matter, how many of you know how to provide CPR?

The implications of this situation are frightening, to say the least. Anybody who studies medicine can understand how the slightest misstep in administering first-aid can have harmful consequences. Take the case of the burn, for instance. Most people would instantly put ice on the burn without knowing that they are actually doing more harm than good. Another common myth, which is very harmful, is to give a child who has swallowed poison, more liquids, imagining that this will help dilute and flush out the poison. Not true. If one does not know how to correctly analyse symptoms of an illness, how can proper medication be provided? How does one know whether the cut requires an antiseptic or not, or whether the fever requires just pills or further help from a doctor? How will one's sprained ankle heal if one doesn't even know how a bandage should be wrapped around the sprain? And what, if any, medicine should be applied to the sprain?

I could go on and on with the questions. All I'd prove is how lacking most of us are in first-aid education. The world and technology may have advanced, but that does not help if we harm ourselves by not equipping the younger generation (as well as ourselves) with knowledge about first-aid. Start from your own home. Make your own first-aid kit. Talk to any doctors you might know and confirm what medicines may be required, as well as for what symptoms, in case of emergency. However, simply a book or a manual cannot help. The authorities, especially schools, should take notice of this severe lacking in our education system, and take immediate measures to impart first aid knowledge to the students. Because emergencies don't arrive with notice, and one may never know when one is called upon to help heal someone else.

By Ferzeen Anis


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