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    Volume 11 |Issue 01| January 06, 2012 |


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Make 2012 the Year of Change

Learning should be FUN-tastic – help them know; help them grow

Sir Frank Peters

It's sad many of the village schools have transformed themselves into mere recruiting centres for the lucrative private coaching enterprises operated off-premises by the schoolteachers.

These totally unscrupulous 'teachers' play on the fear and ignorance of the child/parents. Blackmail, corporal punishment, and intimidation are tools of their trade and they use these tools so skilfully that in a sick sense they merit admiration.

A child who is loved, respected and appreciated learns to give love, respect and appreciation in return. Photo: Amirul Rajiv

The system is relatively simple. If the child attends the tutoring centre (usually the teacher's home) the child receives 'proper education' and it also means they do not get picked on by the 'teacher' in the classroom. Kind of like paying a monthly 'protection insurance' to mafia goons; to ensure your child is not hassled or harassed by them, or become invisible in the classroom and is totally ignored.

The all-skilful tutor masterly plays on the ignorance, student-teacher trust and fragility of the child's mind, in making them believe they are not smart enough to comprehend the lesson being taught and it would be in their best interest to attend additional private tutorials.

Some 'teachers' make sure the pupils don't learn, so their parents seek them out eventually with their rickshaw driving and other equally low-income hard-earnings to help resolve the problem.

If the struggling, underprivileged parents, who may have several mouths to feed, choose to send their child to receive private tuition, the corporal punishment and intimidation ceases immediately and their child is given free monthly membership to the 'My Teacher Loves Me Club.'

Members of the club receive added 'bonuses' like their school marks miraculously skyrocket overnight and failure in exams is a distant memory – an indication they are given the answers prior to the test!

Children who once only received 40 percent marks for work done and the wrath of their parents for not having worked hard enough, suddenly start scooping academic Oscars. They rush home, God love them, clutching their 'passes' and believing they've made a vast improvement.

Their parents are also proud and pat themselves on the back for having the wisdom to put less food on the table and less clothes on their backs to give their beloved child the opportunity of education they never had.

The simple-minded, uneducated parents are lulled into believing their child's knowledge has rapidly improved because of XYZ's specialist tutoring when in fact, s/he always deserved greater marks, but was never given them because of the unscrupulous game in play.

Only when the child sits for an outside exam in which the 'teacher', headmaster or school has no input or control, can the true level of the child's knowledge be measured.

Education is the lifeblood of a civilised nation and good teaching is the bedrock of good societies, but that's of no concern to the unprincipled.

All teachers throughout Bangladesh were admired for their dedication and passion to teach Photo: Courtesy

The graduation from a professional teachers' training college is the completion of many years of long hours of study and admirable dedication. It's the milestone of a great personal and professional achievement. Unlike other professions such as a barrister-at-law, medical doctor, architect or surgeon, it does not offer even visions of opulent housing, Ferrari sports cars and such.

What it does (or should) offer is a fairly decent standard of living, a good pension, and incalculable respect and admiration from child, parent, school and nation.

Before the modern-day decay set-in, all teachers throughout Bangladesh were admired for their dedication and passion to teach with the well being of the child at heart.

Dedicated, decent, honest and professional teachers will tell you they would NEVER have become teachers if they were seeking wealth.

The real rewards from teaching is in knowing you have served society admirably and helped many human beings to reach their potential and fulfill their ambition. A teacher by nature is a patriot – a modern-day unsung hero who deserves total respect and admiration.

Society may never erect a monument for public view in appreciation of even a good teacher, but their pupils will carry one in their hearts globally forever.

While it is recognised, there are many problems within the Bangladesh education system in Bangladesh, there is no justification whatsoever for the use of corporal punishment.

A classroom should be a place of enlightenment. A place where each and every child would want to be each day in a mutually-respecting student-teacher environment; a fun place of learning and meeting with friends, not a torture chamber on the threshold of a hell to be feared, despised and hated. A learning environment should be FUN-tastic – help them know; help them grow.

Many Bangladeshi teachers I know are professional through and through, dedicated to a fault and who abhor the culture of corporal punishment. Corporal punishment is the first recourse of pseudo teachers who lack the ability to teach in a professional manner and brings them and their profession, shame and embarrassment and causes untold damage to the mind of the pupil.

Some people equate corporal punishment with discipline, but that's like comparing chalk to cheese – it has no relation whatsoever. On the contrary, it is a widely practiced form of mental and physical torture that causes humiliation, irreparable damage throughout the person's life and violates the rights of the child and speaks only shame, disgust and curses the 'teacher' who inflicted it.

Human wrongs domineering human rights have exceeded their use-by date.

In 2012, I hope to see massive changes for the better and all errant teachers turning over a new leaf.

Respect commands respect. A child who is loved, respected and appreciated learns to give love, respect and appreciation in return and it is up to us to teach by example.

Torturing innocent children because they are poor and cannot afford to buy new school shoes, a pencil, a five-taka ballpoint, notebook, or their hair is long or they cannot remember a poem written by some long unkempt haired guy 100-years back, isn't doing them or society any favours and is a deplorable way for an allegedly educated and enlightened adult to behave.

Make 2012 the year of change. Every 'teacher' should look for the good within themselves and build on that.

In response to a petition lodged on July 18, 2010 by Barrister Sara Hossain on behalf of social conscience organisations Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) and its sister Human Rights Organisation Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), the High Court Divisional bench comprising of Justice Md. Imman Ali and Justice Md. Sheikh Hasan Arif outlawed corporal punishment on January 13, 2011 and declared it “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and a clear violation of a child's fundamental right to life, liberty and freedom”.


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