I hailed from a rustic place of Madaripur. My childhood days were restless. I got myself admitted to the primary school in 1981. My elder cousins used to go to school but none of them was regular. Although my parents and other relatives were not highly educated, they had basic literacy. However, my cousins ushered me into school. I learned all about alphabets just following their study. My overwhelming inclination for study had prompted parents and grandfather to go for an early admission. But I seemed to be older due to height. I am now 5.11 feet.
I could easily cope with elder friends due to tallness, but I was not immature. My classmates were ahead of me in kidding but I was ahead of them in academic results. I stood first in all the classes, except a single slip. I was the only student to get plenty of affection from the teachers.Let me return to the discussion on my childhood days. This article is not aimed at highlighting me. It is indented to shed some light on the obstacles I had to overcome to continue my study. My village was at a remote place from my school. Villagers were hard-hit by poverty, potholed roads and lack of electricity. School was two miles away. In the winter, we resorted to a shortcut way. We used to go to and from school treading through the meadow. Monsoon was really cruel to us. The road link between our village and school was snapped. The road was cut in at least five points. The staggered road was connected with bamboo-bridges. We got the books wrapped in polythene to be protected from precipitation. I never remained absent from school save illness. Sometimes, teachers were untraced.
The four-roomed school building was corrugated tin roofed. The bamboo-panels of the walls were damaged. Students were soaked in water from leaked rooftop if they did not prefer a safer place.
Despite the adversities, our schooling was marked by assembly, oath, sports and study. Cricket was not that much popular. Football and other traditional games were practiced in leisure time. Sometimes teachers’ bitter language gave impetus to us. I could not ever distance myself from study at the evening due to constant monitoring of my parents. I enjoyed a balanced freedom which was not abused for any immoral act.
With the passage of time, the village has seen tremendous development. The places are infested with concrete houses and roads. The whole neighborhood has come under electricity coverage. Students do not need to walk as they can avail themselves of the motorized vehicles. Ceiling fans at school produce a gentle breeze. The teachers are more qualified now.
There is mushroom growth of kindergartens in rural areas also. Now-a-days, the guardians prefer these schools which are equipped with transport facility and other equipment for amusement of the children. Unfortunately, babies have been subjected to heavy schoolbags. Apart from the government approved curriculum, they are to bear the burden of extra books. The schools are either lacking playgrounds or sports materials. Assemblies are irregular.
The situation prompts me to look back to the past. My childhood days were restless. But it was full of sincerity, discipline, obedience, commitment and allegiance to guardians and teachers.Parents, children and society at large are upgraded keeping pace with the time. But many of us are alienated from vital course of life i.e. ideology, love, discipline, sincerity, honesty and family integration. The children are the worst affected by the impact of hectic modernism. Everything should be balanced. We should be careful so that socioeconomic development cannot take away our disciplined life. To ward off the crisis, sports and extra-curricular activities are a must for physical and mental growth of the children. The students need adequate space in the schools for the purpose. They should be made to attend assembly and take oath regularly to inculcate in them the idea of patriotism and honesty.
The school premises should have cross ventilation facilities. Students need to be imparted training on the ways to clean classroom. Pure supply of water and hygienic sanitation should be available. It is imperative to intensify scouting activities.
Students are deprived of proper counseling which is needed to analyze their problem and push them to the right direction towards the better futurity.
Obtaining quality education is better than cutting a good figure in the examinations. So, we should recast our expectations from the children. We need to encourage children to be enriched and equipped with true knowledge. Sometimes, bookish knowledge is not enough to handle a critical situation.
The teachers should inculcate in pupils ethical lessons. Teachers and students should be proportionate. Proper training of the teachers will underpin quality education of the students.
However, Awami League government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has rightly prioritized primary education which is building block for higher study. If children can be educated well, they will turn into an efficient manpower.
Proper education plan and its execution can pave the way for achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the country.
The writer is the Deputy Commissioner of Chattogram