Last week, out of five working days, there was one day of strike, three days of blockade. Rokeya Akhter, alarmed by the reports of clashes and car burning between these political damadols, did not allow her son to go outside to study.
Rokeyad’s house is in Wari. Son Mahadi Hasan studies in eighth standard of Motijheel Ideal School and College. If you pass this class then it is 9th class, so time is important. But this mother cannot take the worry of sending her son to school.
He told bdnews24.com, “It cannot go on like this – we cannot send our children to school amid this uncertainty. I don’t want there to be any major damage to children’s education like the damage caused by Corona.”
After several years of peace, the politics of the country has become violent again with the twelfth parliament election ahead; At the end of the year, this instability naturally increases the anxiety in the education system.
Although the aim is to end the current academic year by November, parents are worried about sending students to school due to ongoing political unrest. They also fear that the crisis will be prolonged due to the election.
On October 28, the country’s political heat reached its final stage around the BNP rally in Dhaka’s Nayapaltan. After almost 4 years after the end of the conflict, the country again entered the cycle of strikes and blockades.
Teachers have given information about the decrease in attendance in Dhaka’s educational institutions due to the strike-blockade. A survey of schools in the capital showed that student attendance dropped below 50 percent in many schools during the three-day blockade program.
Roknuzzaman Sheikh, assistant headmaster of Motijheel Ideal School, told bdnews24.com that many parents did not send their children even though teachers and staff came during the three-day siege.
On Tuesday, the school had 40 percent attendance in the morning wing and 30 percent in the day wing. On Wednesday, about 50 percent of the students were present in the morning branch and 35 percent in the day branch.
In the meantime, BNP has called a blockade again on Sunday and Monday. This teacher cannot understand how the situation will stand.
Due to political violence before and after the 10th national elections, the country’s educational institutions could not conduct normal class activities for a long time.
Due to the covid epidemic, the educational institutions are closed for one and a half years from March 2020.
The twelfth national parliament election is scheduled to be held in the country at the beginning of January. In order not to disrupt the education program, the Ministry of Education has instructed the schools to cancel the summer vacation this year and complete the academic year by November 30.
But student-parents are worried as political strife spills over into the streets ahead of November’s elections.
Tasfia Ahmed, a ninth grade student of Mirpur Girls Ideal Laboratory Institute, said that she did not go to school for four days of the strike and blockade.
“Our annual exam is in a few days. Now the class was very important. But mom didn’t let go. Saying, buses are being set on fire, fights are happening – what will happen if you fall into all this?”
This student’s mother Husneyara Begum said, “Life comes before studies.” The situation that started, now we are worried. Now the uncertain life begins.”
Hamida Ahmed, daughter of Sonia Begum, a resident of Sutrapur, is a 6th standard student of Sherebangla Girls’ College.
According to the new curriculum, the students are now being evaluated in the class, this parent said, “They have already fallen behind in their studies due to Corona, if the political party changes frequently, the children’s school will be closed.” It is difficult to send them to school in such stagnant conditions.”
Arafat Hossain, a 10th class student of Manipur High School, who is preparing for the SSC examination to be held in February, said that he could not go to study on Tuesday due to the clash of garment workers in Mirpur.
“You have to go for coaching,” said the student, fearing a worse situation if political activists clash. If this continues, we will also suffer a lot. I heard that a bus was set on fire on Ceramics Road next to us. Leaders should also think about the students.”
Teachers are also uncertain
Vice Principal Asma Begum said that student attendance has also decreased in the residential model college due to the blockade. He said, those who live near, feel safe, they come. No one will go out risking their lives.
“I can’t say yet whether I will be able to complete the annual examination and evaluation by November. It depends on the political environment. Parents are worried. If I had children, I would be worried too.”
Ashrajit Roy, a teacher of the Government Laboratory High School in the capital, said that even though the classes were going on during the blockade, the students did not come.
“In the context of the last few days, students are not coming. we are going From November 5, the examination will begin for all except classes VI and VII.”
However, if the political situation deteriorates, it will not be possible to complete the academic year by November 30, this teacher believes.
Stating that the annual examination will continue from November 11 to 25, Roknuzzaman Sheikh, assistant principal of Motijheel Ideal School, also said that if the political unrest increases, the implementation of the plan will be uncertain.
Some educational institutes have stopped their classes directly amid the strike-blockade. These institutes are taking classes online considering the risk of students.
Manarat Dhaka International School and College in Gulshan conducted online class activities amid the blockade. Last Monday, the institution instructed teachers and students to continue Zoom classes in the ongoing situation.
Urge to keep education out of political strife
Experts say that it is the responsibility of the political parties to ensure that issues like political disagreement, right of assembly, education are not affected in the agenda implementation program.
Rasheda K Chowdhury, executive director of the People’s Signature Campaign, said, “Sri Lanka has been in a kind of civil war for a long time, but the educational institutions there have never been closed. When militants were active in Nepal, they declared educational institutions as ‘safe zones’.”
He thinks that students-parents-educational institutions are the first to be affected when there is an apprehension that there may be any political violence in Bangladesh.
“Parent-students are worried. Because if transportation is not safe, then parents, students, teachers will all be worried.”
This advisor believes that the consensus of all political parties is necessary to handle the responsibility of the primary and public education ministry of the former caretaker government.
Rasheda K Chowdhury said, “They will give political programs and protest. But we don’t see this promise not to harm common people. Students fall into the politics of mutual blame.
“Students are stumbling again when they need to run to repair the damage after getting up from the stumbling block caused by the coronavirus. It is not desirable.”
‘Situation wise management’
What is the Department of Secondary and Higher Education thinking about the current situation?
Belal Hossain, director of the secondary branch of the department, said that if the situation worsens, they will take action as per the government’s instructions.
“It is a political decision, then the decision from our ministry, we will give it immediately at the field level.”
He thinks that there will not be any problem in admission in the next academic year as the program is conducted online.