Tuesday, 21 March, 2023

Building Socially Responsible Citizens

  • Madhu Wal & Dr. Shivananda CS
  • 31 December, 2020 12:00 AM
  • Print news

In our earlier days in Bangladesh, we came across a black and white photo of a little boy alluding to a valiant soldier against all inequities. The little boy, presumably a street-dweller, stood taller than a hundred grown-ups to raise his voice against tyranny and spearheaded a raging procession beyond this gaunt figure. Perhaps, we believe there would be no socially conscious individuals in Bangladesh who have not already viewed this black and white photograph from the 1969 Mass Uprising (Gana Abbhutthan). Nobody could identify the brave little dynamite who died soon after the historic picture was captured until the date.

When we are to assume the capability of an individual, habitually, we start filtering off their potential based on their age, gender, and social status. The boy’s particular incident comes as a surprise to us mainly because we do not estimate any potential to be loud, be meaningful, or be functional for a larger cause when we look at him. But it has been proven many times that it does not always take a prodigy to rise above, as a ‘special’ from their age-group. Every child and every youth holds immense potential inside him/her, and can be a changemaker for society if only channeled right- through proper education and guidance.

Children in Bangladesh spend a significant portion of their time in schools. Therefore, it is the responsibility of educational institutes to design their curricula in ways that imply the necessity of developing the students as socially responsible individuals. This means that our children need to be sympathetic towards their surroundings, be able to empathize with the masses that they co-exist with, and have the hunger to work for the betterment of the society. This has both active and passive impacts on creating their identities.

Most of our parents prefer their children to work on themselves for themselves. This fact is proven by the growing traffic in the, painting, acting, or dance schools for children, boosting their co-curricular skills to ensure a multidimensional career ahead. And this practice should be absolutely valid and appreciated. Yet, when we ask ourselves, when was the last time we taught our children to pick up scattered wastes from their surroundings to dispose of at the nearest waste-bin or help the elderly on the road to carry their bags or adjust their schedules to teach an underprivileged child the basic rules of geometry – we are mostly left scratching our heads.

It is not our insensitivity, rather our reluctance and unawareness of such needs, that also keep our children detached from the immense contribution they could make in society. Today, when we look at personalities like Greta Thunberg or Malala Yousafzai, we wonder how they could do so much at such a young age. The truth is, such individuals were made due to their consistent exposure to the growing needs and required actions for the problems around them. And so, if we fail to address what is lacking in our societies, how could we expect our children to step up and look for a solution?

It is imperative that we – as parents, guardians, and mentors – think deeper about the positive consequences of engaging the children in community services. As a country with a growing economy, we will soon be facing many new social challenges ahead. The young students need to have a closer and clearer look at the mass population of the country. They need to have deeper integration with the various social communities, be able to identify the gaps between the classes, religions, and ethnic groups; determine the elements that could be utilized to bridge the gaps, and ultimately – play a role in the solution of critical social inequalities.

Recently, our students have arranged the DPS STS Education for Human Greatness campaign to take part in social developments with the belief: ‘the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.’ It was a humanitarian initiative that aimed to provide education to underprivileged children during the early phases of COVID-19. Another mentionable venture was ‘Tyche,’ the tie-dye cloth venture by DPS STS student Sher E Mohammad, that has the objective to facilitate at least 1000 underprivileged children by 2021. Students from various other schools are also creating such marvellous examples, establishing the fundamental idea that our children are capable of doing wonders. They only need proper grooming and cooperation from their families and schools. We are in charge of helping them recognize the many social barriers, fight the long-prevailing social stigmas, and look at the social-limitations from a new generational perspective. The process of practicing social benevolence started early, and will slowly but surely reflect on Bangladesh’s future in the upcoming decades.


The writers are Principal and Vice Principal of DPS STS School Dhaka respectively