Aritri’s demise and prospective crossroads for our education system

Published : Tuesday, 11 December, 2018 at 12:00 AM

A school going girl has took her own life on Dec 3. She hailed from a well off family and a renowned school of the country. She was a student of class 9 of Viquarunnisa Noon School and College. Her name was Aritri. She was caught during copying in the exam using her mobile phone and her parents were called in by the school authority. As her parents reached the school the next day, the principal and few other teachers insulted them so ruthlessly and threatened to rusticate her from the school.

Aritri could not tolerate her parents’ insult and ran away to her home to kill herself there. It was such an extreme loss of a promising life. A lot have been discussed about the culprit behind this tragedy. Even a teacher was arrested. But encountering these small factors are not going to be enough as this tragedy came out as a critical turning point for our whole education system.

One teenager, Aritri’s demise was due to her inability to tolerate her parents’ insult. On the other hand, another teenager Oishee is in jail for murdering her parents while she was in total grasp of drugs. Many other similar incidents took place in our country during the last few years. This scenario requires us to have a good look on both our parenting as well as education system.

In reality, our education system is derived from the colonialism like; our judiciary, administration etc. and its base actually lies with the British reign over the subcontinent. For hundreds of years, the British rulers ruled over our country. We must be thankful to them as they established the official form of administration, judiciary, education and other systems.

Many educational institutes operating today were established by the British. But the fact is they always wanted to keep the people of this subcontinent under oppression. They never intended to ensure similar education and facility that they deliver to the British children. Hence, the education system of this subcontinent was mostly based on the concept of dictatorship.

During the rule of the Pakistani autocratic rulers over our country, cadet colleges came out as a concept. Education system at those institutions was based on the concept of military training. It was due to a process of creating soldiers for the Pakistani forces. Truly, these institutions delivers good results even till today but that result comes out in a faulty education system.

We should not overlook the fact that the education system in both Britain and Pakistan was very different for their own kids. They, especially the British, are practicing scientific method of teaching or schooling for so many years which is the reason behind their position in the world and we are still holding their system which was really meant to oppress us.

The schools or colleges that we know as good ones are actually following the similar teaching styles of those British colonial institutions or Pakistan period cadet colleges. They are highly focused on discipline and completely ignore the concept of interactive learning. Though these institutions are known for good results, creativity and innovativeness is never a byproduct of their system. We can easily understand that neither the British nor the Pakistani rulers required creativity among the kids of this subcontinent or Bangladesh as they required only discipline and obedience and the institutions following their system till today are also supposed to deliver the same.

Currently the concept of our education system is based on pressure and suppression. Schools today have turned into jails. Teachers should be the friends and guides of the students. But at institutions like Dhaka University known as Oxford of the East and reputed school like Viquarunnisa students were victims of rape and eve-teasing by their teachers. At religious institutions like different madrasas also students are often victim of such acts. Teaching is a noble profession and if teachers are not trained properly or if they do not uphold humanity inside, such incidents will continue at different corners of Bangladesh. With unethical teachers, we cannot enlighten our children’s future.

Complex mentality of children requires assistance. Minus proper direction from the very tender age, a child will survive but cannot excel. Environment pushing children to think and nurture their emotions as well as imagination is must to raise curiosity to make them interested to learn. With that environment, the parents, elders or teachers just have to aggravate positive curiosity inside a child. Right now it is almost impossible to find such an environment in Bangladesh.

From the very beginning of a child’s life, he has to go through intense competitions–for admission, good results in the exam, excellence in extra-curricular activities and many things else. While he is busy in such a tough life, nurturing his imaginations and out-of-the-box creativity is impossible. Our children go through enormous challenges against their scope of building a self-identity or personality. We all try to shape them in a particular dice and that is not going to bring good for Bangladesh in the upcoming years.

Aritri, definitely a talented student, was copying in the exam– a shameful act. But we need to think about the reason behind a talented student committing such a crime. It is the load that our society as well as our education system imposes over a student. It is unacceptable that a student of Viquarunnisa Noon School will do poor in the exam. The parents will be ashamed, the teachers will be angry and the school will issue transfer Certificate (TC). It is like abandoning someone for failing in an exam.
Students like Aritri cannot take this pressure and risk which leads them to copy in the exam. No teacher today thinks to give some extra care to a weak student. Rather teachers today push them towards coaching added with ruthless behaviour. Schools are practicing a one-way communication system which is unhealthy in every sense. We all know that but for some reasons cannot come out of the set practice.

With ever increased use of technology and rapid urbanization, children today are much smarter. They are also very sensitive too. If they are not treated properly, then their lives can be derailed. Moreover, it was never more important to understand the mentality of the children as well as to support them in thinking out of the box. Our responsibilities now lie with opening new doors for them which will comply with their own choices. Autocratic education system cannot succeed in today’s world and rather it should be interactive, opinion-oriented and multi-dimensional. Our experts in the education sector should focus on this issue to initiate this theme both in the schools and the curriculums.

Due to the sophisticated mentality of children and teenagers along with their high exposure to external world today, managing the psychology has become ever important. Hundreds of reports of emotional outburst of students of schools, colleges, madrasas and universities were found in the last few years which had taken away several lives. Moreover, brutal behaviour of the teachers as well as the coaching business orientation of teachers at both urban and rural areas is making the situation more complex.

Hence, it requires appointing qualified psychologists in every school today. Here the key is qualified and certified psychologists who are well aware of the psychology and related changes of children and teenagers. They should regularly counsel the students and the schools should not deny this investment. The government should also issue strong guidelines in this regard.

Our country is going through several developments for which Bangladesh received great acclamation throughout the world. But there is no way we can sustain this development and progress if efficient human resource cannot be created. Many countries of the Middle East like Libya, Syria, Iraq is in jeopardy because humanity was not preserved among the young generation. Developed countries have invested highly behind building their next generations as their schools use scientific method of teaching exploring the creativity inside the students. Our neighbouring countries like India also has progressed a lot in this area as they are offering specialized education to their children from the very beginning with consideration to the interest of the students. This will help them to ensure continuous progress in the future also.

Bangladesh government must focus on creating pools of efficient human resource. As the 11th general election is to be held within a few weeks, the political parties must include their plans to reform the education system of Bangladesh in their respective election manifestos. If we cannot ensure the future of the next generation, there is no point in development works in different areas.

We hope our policymakers do not leave the demise of Aritri only as a tragedy. This should rather be treated as an eye-opener. High priority should be imposed on reforming our crooked and corrupted education system to ensure the continuous progress of Bangladesh. We must not forget Aritri’s demise in the chaos of election or other events and let us take some steps to stop any such incidents in the future. If we see some drastic actions to reshape our education system, then Aritri’s tragic departure can be contributing to our future development. Let not it be just another waste of life.

The writer is Chief Editor at Mohammadi News Agency (MNA), Editor at Kishore Bangla and Vice-Chairman, Democracy Research Center (DRC)

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