Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home


Burden of education
-will someone please kill me?

“If the Romans had been obliged to go to school and learn Latin, they would never have found time to conquer the world.”
-Heinrich Heine

The joy of education! There was a time when we longed to go to school. Yes, that memory is almost forgotten, but we did want to have bags and books and tiffin boxes and water bottles, and be on our happy way to school. Suffice to say, we grew out of it rather quickly. For what seems to be a very short while, we did enjoy it.

There was also a time when we were dragged to the school by our parents; moments [in fact, hours…days actually] of continuous crying and never-ending complaints. The bad became worse as we grew up and schools started becoming useless and worthless to us; neglected [oh yes, very much so], but a constantly circling vulture over our heads. And that's when we crossed the threshold: school was not fun anymore. The old days were banished to the clutches of the new wind that came in bringing the change.

That brings us to a rather controversial question, which in turn, has led it to become a popular debate topic: are schools important?

The quality of the educational system is degrading, both in the English and Bangla mediums; that is a fact that we all will agree to. The blame lies on the schools heavily, but it is not the entire problem. The number of students has increased, but good teachers are few and far between. It is hard to find a teacher nowadays who can guide students properly. And few of them are in the schools. Education has become a business, and the reign of commercialization has taken over. “It's hard to find a good Biology teacher who actually covers the whole syllabus and knows what they are teaching,” says Fahad*.

Inept teachers are a big problem. Their poor conceptions are reflected on their students, resulting in bad grades. Couple that with the fact that many teachers don't put in a decent effort to teach well at school in the hopes that students may resort to private tutoring and you have a nasty piece of pickle.

According to many English medium students, one of the main problems is the ECA in the schools. Most schools do not have ECAs, which is an important part of school life. And in many cases, though the ECAs exist, they aren't taken very seriously. “Our community service club is a joke. No funding, no organized events, most students don't even know there is a community service club,” says Nabil*.

Then comes the part where the students are supposed to choose their elective subjects. Most schools do not have that till class nine, and so the students had to study all eleven-thirteen subjects. For some schools, the admin is a big time pain in the neck to the students.

“The schools have this preconceived notion that the student body is going down the drain... They're becoming paranoid and have started resorting to all sorts of immoral ways to counteract these things.” Says Tazwar, giving O levels. As a result, there are clashes between the school authorities and the students. The weak students are not taken care of, and the schools have forgotten the fact that they are supposed to be a moral support to all sorts of students, and that they are supposed to believe in the students. So, students lose respect for their schools.

Now, how can we forget the introduction of western culture? It is not that western culture is not welcomed, but we are forgetting east over west. The formation of new cliques and the edifice of an unknown over-confidence has pretty much infected the old times. With the increment of competition, good students are doing well, where as the bad are doing extremely bad. Some are dropping out of schools, and some are least bothered about their situations.

There are, however people who worship their schools, yet go to the private coaching centers. They run off to the schools in the morning and then to the coaching centers in the evening. But the demands of time and energy for such a routine are pretty high and not many can carry on in such a way. And some cannot afford it financially. So, people are now resorting to giving exams as private candidates. It's pretty easy. Just take classes for your subjects. Many centers have exam registration facilities. For ECAs, there are courses for languages, drama, photography. Volunteer work for charities is also an option.

But still, at the end of the day, most of us end up going to school. However much we may hate it, we still want to be able to think back on school and college life, not private coaching life. It is the basis that we all build on. Imagine a world without schools…

*names have been changed
By Kazim Ibn Sadique and Raida Kifait Reza

Got Smart

A FIRST GRADE TEACHER collected old, well known proverbs. She gave each child in her class the first half of a proverb, and had them come up with the rest.

As you shall make your bed so shall you..........mess it up.
Better be safe than......................punch a 5th grader.
Strike while the ..............................bug is close.
It's always darkest before..........daylight savings time.
You can lead a horse to water but.......................how?
Don't bite the hand that........................looks dirty.
A miss is as good as a..................................Mr.
You can't teach an old dog new.........................math.
If you lie down with the dogs,..........you'll..stink in the morning.

The pen is mightier than the..... ......pigs.
An idle mind is...........................the best way to relax.
Where there's smoke, there's......................pollution.
Happy the bride who..................gets all the presents.
A penny saved is...................................not much.
Two's company, three's.......................the musketeers.
Laugh and the whole world laughs with you, cry and..........................you have to blow your nose.
Children should be seen and not.........spanked or grounded.
When the blind leadeth the blind.........get out of the way.

The aromas of childhood

Even the most quarrelsome among us would agree that being a kid was the next best thing in the world to dreaming about growing up and making something out of life (which, now that growing up is no longer a dream, does not appeal so much anymore, what with all its complications).We miss the memories and we miss the food.

Food. The appeal of the simple and uncomplicated. The unique delicacies that have become things of the past and thus have come to be permanently associated with our childhood. With their mention waft the memories of our long-lost childhood.

Remember the total absence of junk food shops? Food was healthier and there were less cases of food poisoning. Small shops like CandyFloss were big with the youth- they were iconic places for hanging out as well as grabbing some fast food. The (fill in the blank) Fried Chicken shops hadn't sprouted yet. People rarely ate out so home-made food was more in vogue but when they did, they usually went to the Chinese restaurants, half of which have died out of business right now. Lebanese, Vietnamese, Korean and other exotic foreign cuisines weren't available. Eating out was basically a luxury and a family event to look forward to.

The ice creams were legendary. Very few flavours were available in the market- there were mainly simple chocbars, vanilla ice creams and kulfis by either Igloo or Polar, but man, did they taste good. Kids queued up in lines to buy ice lollies on that special weekday at school when ice cream was offered as a special treat. Yours truly remembers asking the bua selling ice-creams whether 'gorom' ice creams were available because she was quite good at catching colds but yet could not resist having one ice cream.

Tiffin was less ostentatious, too- no expensive pastries from King's or oil-drenched greasy biriyanis from the canteen. Almost everyone brought tiffin from home in those days anyway, while now people prefer to eat from school canteens. The tiffins comprised usually of noodles(which became cold and soggy after a while), sandwiches and eggs. The occasional bite from the school canteen was way cheaper and soft drinks weren't available in school- you had to make do with the plain water or the fruit juices that came in small colourful packets. The varieties of chips found were mostly Mr Twist, Potato Crackers, Ring Chips and those green stick-like chips that everyone relished. Ring chips were good make-believe stuff- they were used as rings to wear on fingers until our taste buds finally got impatient and we crunched them off. Hawai mithai, those great fluffy pink sweets, were great as after-school snacks.

Home-made treats were in no way less worthy. The aamer achar, dried in the open terraces and fresh from the warm sunlight tasted better than any packaged pickle products today. The home-made jhalmuri , a mixture of chanachur, red peppers, muri and lebur rosh, was served in a cone made out from old newspapers just to give the right feel. The steaming shingaras, the alur dom and the crunchy shomuchas and the chotpoti-do you miss them? There was the special meal of khichuri, potato fries and dimbhaji, prepared hastily during a rainy day, testimony to the festive mood that abounded. The moas made by grandmothers were devoured by kids and enhanced the special bond; I don't see the fried papors, which were eaten sometimes without any other dish and sometimes with a dash of just the right amount of sugar.

So what if the home-made jhalmuri isn't there anymore, the hawai mithais and batashas have long since been forgotten and the kulfis have vanished? Their memories haven't, and maybe we like it better that way. Some things are better left stored quietly away in a corner, away from all the chaos and confusion, through which we can relive our childhood allover again.

By Anika Tabassum

Inflatable prices

Hey there, my suffering friends. Remember in the ages long forgotten, when a single taka got you handful of colourful chocolates? Sure, it wasn't very healthy, but it definitely was worth it. Question is, where's that these days? Answer is, inflation moved into town- its taking everything by storm by the bull's horn and giving it a good shake. Oooh, Yeah!

It is sad, indeed, that we didn't know the true underlying sentimental value in things back in our post-toddling days. Where a liter of Milk Vita or Coca Cola used to cost around 20 taka, they're now a whooping 45 taka. Potato Crackers, probably one of the best chips ever to have been produced used to cost a low 6. Now, it's a steep 10. Not that any of you actually buy the stuff. “Lays” seem to be in thing these days. People used to be able to pay 3 bucks for a rickshaw ride.

Further still, back in our post-toddling days, our pocket money was as high as an OMGBBQPIZZA!! 10 taka or so per day. Somewhat less sometimes and somewhat more other times. It was all good. Save up for two weeks, and you could have that cool little remote controlled toy car you always wanted. Save up for a month, and Yamagad!!!- are those G.I. Joe action figures?!

The sad fact is inflation is sort of an unstoppable force of economical nature. It's a bit like water. Except that water isn't a pain. Inflation, however, is. Quite a bad one, too. It bleeds you dry and then leaves you broke and weeping.

These days, if you're a teenager and the outgoing sort, 100 taka barely gets you through the day. And, if you're in a relationship, and you've only got a 100 taka note in your wallet, don't embarrass yourself by going on a date. Unless you actually want to make an arse out of yourself by taking her to a roadside restaurant, eating unhygienic food and then getting diarrhea. You won't be able to break up with her like that, sorry.

The only way to tackle this monster known as inflation is to get a job or something, and earn wads and wads of cash. And this isn't always possible. There's a theory that inflation occurs because of an increase in the supply of money. I don't know how accurate that is, but it's definitely logical.

True, that inflation can't be stopped. What can be done, however, is decrease the increase rate. That usually happens on the miraculous and rare occurrence of there being an improvement in the economy of the country. Yeah, I bet you can see how our future looks so bleak, right? It's so sad that it's almost funny… No, wait… It is funny. No… Wait… I intend to stay here… It's very, very tearfully sad.

For us teenagers, what we can do to not get beaten down by this non-physical entity is find some alternate means of earning some cash. For example, tutoring. Yeah, you are reaping your rewards, the money in this case, from rich people who don't have to care about inflation and stuff. Yeah. Yeah… I hate inflation, too…

So, anyway. Here's the gist of the whole deal. Things cost. A lot more today, than it did before. There's a lot of economical reasons behind this described by a lot of economical terms that most of us wouldn't understand. Things will cost more and more in the future, and more and more. Possibly, there's nothing any of us can do about it. But, we can try… No, it's definitely out of our hands… Still, we can try, right? Help improve the economy, bring the state of things to a more stable condition, not buy foreign currency by the millions and so on forth. With the hopes that the next generation of kids would have to suffer less than we are having to. Won't take a whole lot from you, will it now? Just your lifelong effort…

By Beb-E



home | Issues | The Daily Star Home

2008 The Daily Star