Our schools deserve better leadership
Back in November 2017, an announcement by the ruling political party's student body alarmed educationists and parents of school kids around the country. The announcement, made after an "emergency" meeting of its central executive body, instructed its organisational units to set up committees at secondary schools.
The idea was dismissed soon after, with reasoning that students were already burdened with academic workload, and the need for such committees within schools would only weigh school children down with "politics".
While that may have been the end of that saga, it seems that politics within schools never went away entirely. While authorised political activities among school students doesn't exist, one can easily get a whiff of it going on in the background, especially among those running the schools.
Local government or political representatives have almost always been associated with school boards in our country, especially government schools. In a way, having local representatives within these boards is a good thing, because if anything, these representatives can oversee school activities and monitor overall performance and standards. However, the case has been quite different in our country.
In 2017, a school ground in Narayanganj was used as the wedding venue of the son of one of the school's committee members. All the preparations were being taken during school hours, when students were inside the classroom. Needless to say, the preparations were disrupting the lessons, but who could the students turn to for help when their school's so-called leader was the one causing the chaos?
A similar incident happened in Dhaka when the principal of a renowned school was found guilty of arranging a cattle market on the school grounds. The principal was also facing investigation over several other issues, including admission irregularities, and was caught in the act of verbally abusing governing body members as well as talking about their political influence in the same conversation.
Despite being isolated incidents, they all have one thing in common. It is always an authority figure in the background who is pulling the strings, and that too at the school and its students' expense. Showcasing their political influence is another thing these school leaders do at times to further benefit themselves, and their own interests.
Local government representatives being on school boards is never a bad thing. However, it ultimately comes down to these members and what they do with the power vested in them by the people of the school community.
Schools in other countries see their board members striving to establish the school's visions and goals during their time in office. However, it seems that the ones in control of our schools almost always gun for personal gains over the collective interest of the school, often creating a hostile political environment within, affecting teachers and students alike.
And at the end of the day, education is the one to suffer from such mismanagement and lack of able leadership.
1. The Daily Star. (December, 2017). Don't burden schoolchildren with politics.
2. Dhaka Tribune. (April, 2017). Narayanganj school being used as a wedding venue.