<i>Hartal:</i> Children the sufferers
JAMAAT has called for 72 hours of hartal on Thursday, Sunday and Monday. When one hears such news, the things that come to mind are economic shutdown, destruction of vehicles and adults getting hurt. But how many people think about the children?
I went to a local hospital during hartal in December, 2013. The cries of innumerable mothers could be heard in the background; the mothers of Shanto, Lal mia, Murad, Belal, Sumi, Surma, Rony, Riad, Hasan, Lima and countless others. They were all weeping loudly, blaming their own sins for the appalling fate of their children. They believe that it was due to their mistakes that their children had been cursed with misfortune. But one must stand beside them, to tell them that it was neither their fault nor their child's.
You might not know these children, because they are 'not' the children of anybody famous. They are 'nobodies.' But they all have something in common; they were all killed or maimed during hartals.
The more one sees the consequences of hartal, the more helpless one feels. None of these children had said anything against their attackers, or did anything against them. Most of them might not have even known what hartal meant.
So far, I've only talked about the physically affected children, now let me move to the mentally affected ones. Unless you like studying (which I doubt most people do) one cannot believe how tiresome it is to study the same thing a hundred times, since the same exam is rescheduled over and over again due to hartals. Revision is very much needed before an exam, but overloading the brain can sometimes stress one out. To make the current situation worse, the months of November and December are exam months for both the Bengali and the English-medium educational institutions.
Beside this short term disadvantage, a long term disadvantage that the children face is the fact that their schools are not able to finish the targeted syllabus within the required time, due to these 'unexpected circumstances.' Other than this, our country had also received the threat of not being able to host the British Board if these hartals were to continue.
For Bengali-medium students the conditions are worse, with the government announcing that there will be no promotion to the next grade without examinations. This means that the children will have to give their exams under any circumstances. Thousands of students had also given their PSC and JSC exams in desperate conditions. The more a country is unable to run its education system smoothly the more backward it will become in all respects.
Besides school kids, it is also very hard for university students who 'have' to attend their exams, with the consequence of missing one exam being a big 'F' beside your name on results day.
The more the violence and closures continue the faster our country will start to sink. Everyone, including me, had thought that Bangladesh was progressing in the right direction and we could become a first world country in the years to come. But this 'dream' looks like a rather dim prospect in the eyes of most countrymen now. To solve this problem we must act fast and together for what is right because, “we are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.”
So if you do not want to harm us, the children, stop the hartals! If you want our nation to become a first world nation, stop the hartals! If you want your own children not to be affected, stop the hartals! Because soon enough, you will not be able to save your children.
The writer is a student of Class 9, Sunbeam School.