Bangladesh is one of the most thickly populated countries of the world. Apparently though difficult, it is not impossible to manage everything smoothly and skilfully by any administration if there is a good team of like-minded proactive people in every sector willing to bring about positive changes. In order to make desired changes visible and sustainable, we need to have a long term plan and work continuously, revising the long-term plan based on the demand of time and as per the situations dictate.
Bangladesh has a reputation all over the world for her hospitality; friendly attitudes towards the foreigners; culinary skills; and for the natural beauty. Bangladesh is lucky to have so many historically important archaeological sites and the largest sea beach in the world. These can be capitalized if proper steps of cleaning the country including the tourists spots, and ensuring the general security of the people of the country as well as of the tourists since Bangladesh has disreputation for the lack of cleanliness and security which we can easily come out of and improve the situation in a period of five years or so.The later one, security, has been improving day by day but for the other to achieve, two ways can be of great help to make the country clean: administrative steps such as announcing not to litter here and there; and starting practising cleanliness in educational institutions as well as at homes. If students make a good habit at an early age, they are expected to continue the better practices and may take the leadership in future for clean Bangladesh.
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change or the Ministry of Home Affairs can issue a notice asking everyone to keep their homes, educational institutions, shops, offices and the surrounding places clean on their own and if they fail, they must face consequences. Moreover, nobody has moral rights to litter anything anywhere they like; they must drop litter in a particular place. Used tissue paper, bottles, food remains, food packets and boxes, fruit peels and pairings, kitchen rubbish, engine spills, and other things that pollute the environment must not be dropped in a public place or in places which are shared by many others. For example, as a road is not for me alone, hundreds and thousands of people have got ownership of a road, I do not have right to make it dirty or to occupy for long barring people from easy movement. I do not have the right to spit, blow nose, and leave urine and faeces anywhere I like. I must keep the waste materials in such places from where the waste materials cannot be the cause of annoyance for others. If this habit can be formed during children’s stay at the educational institutions, their practices will last long and in near future, we can get a clean city, a clean Bangladesh.
There are some makeshift shops in and around the footpaths and the roads of the towns and cities of the country; unless possible to relocate them, compel them to clean the places they make dirty. Patricia Syme, one of my university teachers in New Zealand claimed that they had to shout (request/convince/motivate) at people who spat and littered in the open streets and in other public places. Sometimes, some arrogant younger people would start brawling or shouting back but those senior people (school, college, and university teachers, and officials) did not stop shouting. After some long years of continuous convincing, motivating, and shouting, the people of New Zealand started not to drop any litter in the public places.
Of course till today, they teach in schools and engage students in activities to form these kinds of habits. Although we only learn in educational institutions, learning and doing go hand in hand in New Zealand. Patricia Syme talked about what she experienced around 50/60 years ago. Now, almost nobody in New Zealand litters in public places except in the weekends when young drunkards litter bottles and other food staff anywhere and everywhere. However, the city corporation employees clean them up just next morning. Alongside teaching and forming habits in educational institutions, the government of Bangladesh should also set up waste management plants and slaughter houses in the country.
Moreover, as hidden curriculum, the government can order the primary and secondary level educational institutions to engage students in cleaning their classrooms, washrooms, and the surrounding areas; and to plant saplings and flower plants in and around the organisations. However, the educational institutions should have cleaning materials such as brushes, brooms, tub, mop, gloves, floor cleaner, glass cleaner, and sanitising substances.
Although all of us expect neatness and cleanliness, many people believe that cleaning their own homes and schools is somebody else's responsibility. We do not own the institutions and the footpaths and roads of the country. The younger students must be taught that schools and colleges are their own and it is their own responsibility to keep the environment clean as they live in it. Additionally, students can be motivated and engaged in cleaning public places as part of their services to the community. The heads of the organisations should be provided with guidelines about how to perform those activities and ordered to form this habit through engaging the children in cleaning and other community services. And this is a long term plan for the nation and this will be sustainable if changes can be achieved in the behaviours of students in educational institutions.Notices should be served and announced through different print and electronic media that, if any dirt or waste materials are found in or around the places mentioned and if the washrooms are not found hygienic, they will be fined an amount of money or the organisations will have to bear the total cost of cleaning the waste materials from their organisations and adjacent places. On the other hand, the clean campuses can be rewarded and the rewarding should be publicised for motivating others. In that case, the city corporation team will clean the washrooms and the campuses but the cleaning cost will be borne by the organisation.
Drive to check if every area is clean and weekly visit can be arranged by the City Corporations, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change; and the ministry of Home Affairs or by any other legally designated personnel. Before starting the punitive measures, there should be motivational announcement through mike, print and electronic media so that people are aware of the government notice and the possible consequences if disobeyed.
So far as I know, the city corporations have got such kinds of rules but for some unknown reasons, they are not implemented. These laws should be executed and publicised for others to be aware of. If the said kinds of programmes can be implemented, citizens may enjoy better health and quality environment due to reduced insect borne diseases like dengue and malaria and thus minimising the medical cost of people; water logging situation may improve; and as a result, we may be regarded as a neat and clean nation in the world.
The writer is Associate Professor
currently posted at Teachers’
Training College, Dhaka