The nation has just observed its 40th Victory Day anniversary and stepped into 41st year of our achievement of freedom. Our greatest achievement in the 20th century at the cost of supreme sacrifice of our heroic sons is our freedom but the real spirit of freedom struggle still stands far apart from the reality. Political factors stand prime barriers to materialize the dream of our liberation struggle. What percentage of freedom we have achieved in terms of education, getting health facilities from the state, social security, freedom of speech and human rights still remains a big question.
We have achieved some progress in primary education in terms of the increase of school going children but not in terms of acquiring competency level. Still seventeen percent children don't go to school at all. The fruit of freedom has not yet ripened even after 40 years for these children. This percentage shows much higher in ‘haor’ and ‘monga’ and ‘hilly’ areas. In the secondary level pass percentage is increasing every year without ensuring quality. It has become a national mania to make the students pass in the public examination whether they have the ability to pass or not.
We have established 56 private universities beyond our 32 public universities even though only fifteen percent of our students study in university level and the standard of our universities in the world ranking register many hundred miles back. As in the secondary and higher secondary levels the quality is not ensured, its negative impact is discerned in the tertiary level. Every sensible person must ask a question is it the fruit of freedom that all the educational institutions from primary to highest tier would be absolutely politicized and vitiated the academic atmosphere in the name of democracy. Teacher recruitment, student admission, getting MPO and result publication witness the naked claws of politics. I dream a Bangladesh after twenty years where all the children will go to school laughing and smiling. They will enjoy the school environment; classroom environment will attract them just like magnet. All the teachers will be trained and dedicated to real teaching and building the patriotic citizens of the country. Extra coaching for money will be a foreign phenomenon to all the students, teachers and guardians. Teachers will not have to pay bribes to the corrupt officials of the department of education who are actually like their sons but don’t feel shame to take hush money from the teachers. This evil practice will disappear for ever from the corridors of Shiksha Bhaban. The universities will be centers of excellence where the ugly touch of politics will remain thousands of miles away. The world class research and ideal education will not only invite the true knowledge seekers of the country but also from abroad.
Political programs one after another have annoyed the lives of people. But the most miserable fact appears that hundreds and thousands of youths are being arrested by the police unnecessarily. Before any political programs the young people cannot sleep in their own houses because of the fear of police action. It seems then that we are living in another country, not in our homeland. We are living in occupied Gaza strip of West Bank. When they are caught by the police, they are to endure inhuman torture. Their families are to pass through nightmare ordeals. Many families have to lose everything to save their sons from the clutches of police. A question undoubtedly surfaces in every sensible people’s mind whether we are living in the independent Bangladesh or we are passing the days of 1971 when the Pak army used to torture us. My dream of a Bangladesh after twenty years is that Bangladesh must have a well trained police force that will not be used for gaining political ends. Police will be real friends of the people and the political vengeance will disappear for good. People will really feel the taste of independent Bangladesh. Human’s rights will be established at ever tier of the nation.
Social problems such as trafficking children and women, insecurity, road accidents, human rights situation, price hike, corruption at every step have faded the dream of our nation. We just remain complacent in terms of political achievement. Real achievement and the real fruit of freedom have not yet reached the doorstep of common people. Our state machinery would be diverted to public welfare and ensure trafficking free country and a county where road accidents will be only a rare happening. We live in an independent country but it’s peculiar that hundreds and thousands of poor people die for want of treatment and medicine. Already employed doctors think of their own fortune depriving the country of their valuable service. My dream of future Bangladesh after twenty years is to ensure sound treatment facilities for all the poor people from the state and the well to do have to have good treatment in the country of their own cost. My country will produce ample doctors with humanitarian trainings and good medical skill and also have best quality hospitals both in the private and public sectors but all will ensure treatment for the people of all strata of society.
We need to be optimistic. But mere optimism without any real and qualitative change in personal, social and state life cannot be appreciated. Yes we see many changes have taken place in the lives of the people but how much still remains to be fulfilled need to be thought? Most of the cases changes have taken place in private sectors and the state machinery imposes various types of restrictions in the name of democracy actually to materialize the nefarious design of ugly politics making the countrymen the hostages of these evils. We want to see this culture has evaporated otherwise our freedom will be meaningless to millions, may be meaningful to few. Do we see any qualitative or physical change in the government offices? The answer will be a big No. Still government offices have retained the reputation of harassing people. We don’t see any changes in delivering service to the clients in state run bodies. Nor they are trained to serve the people as the citizens of a free nation. Is it our hard earned freedom? Does freedom mean only having a piece of land? I want to see my country where all the children will receive education in a beautiful and enjoyable place. Girls will not be discriminated. Citizens will receive education and education will be treated as the rights of the citizens not as opportunity. We want a Bangladesh where corruption will be thrown in the dust forever. Poverty will be kept in the museum. We no more want to be the playthings of the rival political games. Rather we want to establish a healthy culture for all where the future generation will nourish and inhale fresh air. This is our dream.
Writer: Program Manager, BRAC Education Program and Vice-President, Bangladesh English Teachers’ Association (BELTA), Dhaka, Bangladesh.