The direct experience of teaching, conducting training and visiting educational institutions in various parts of the country, having meetings and seminars with the teachers, students and related people make scope for me to think of education that I try to pour on newspapers and some newspapers publish the write-ups with importance. Some teachers and teacher educators read them and put their comments for and against and the mixed type of reaction. Some complain why I write just on pedagogical aspects of education and the development of teachers; why not write about teachers’ benefits, their salary increase and nationalisation of education? I basically write focusing on all these issues. I also talk, give speeches, do workshops and write on how teachers should ensure a safe environment for the learners in classrooms. However, some recent occurrences have given rise to the question of dwarfing all these issues and ‘who will ensure teachers’ safety?’ They must be safe first, then comes taking their measure to save students. Every day newspapers appear before us with the news of teacher harassment, humiliation and assaulting them either by committee members or local political leaders or student leaders. Teachers have been receiving honour in our society and we harbour this culture for long. The western people do not have such a culture to honour the teachers the way we do but beating a teacher or assaulting them goes beyond their imagination. What have we started breaking our age-old culture? The worse is that society and state seem to support it silently as any drastic action is hardly taken against the culprits.
Our society and state must ensure the professional dignity, and socio-economic security of teachers with a view to attracting really deserving candidates to this significant profession as it is the only place to train the future generations to be honest, dedicated and patriotic. In no way we can afford to neglect or ignore it. The continuous and recently held incidents against teachers in some parts of the country baffle us and engage us to think about where we are heading to. What will happen to our future generation? What will happen to our future state when the future leaders of the country have taken such heinous steps against teachers who are dedicated to the national building? Let me cite some examples of these ills. On 13 April 2022, the principal of Gaibandha Government College found several young boys driving motorbikes and playing music with shrill sounds on the college campus. He asked them not to do it and leave the campus which made ruffians infuriated who later assaulted and beat up the principal. How dare these ruffians are! Where do they get such audacity from? Teachers are the leaders and guardians of society, not only in the classroom. When some teachers want to play their due role, they are threatened and attacked by the rascals, and society just witnesses these crimes silently! This does not show any good signs.
The recent story of Hridoy Mondol who had been in jail for 19 days and got released on 10 April has jerked the nation because of the false and implicated cases against him. He was charged with blasphemy. The entire story was planned and purposive, no doubt. He thus describes people’s assaulting him, “I don’t know how many people attacked me as I was inside the room but I heard their shouting. Police came to rescue me; otherwise, I would die. When policemen were taking me to their van I found many people standing with big sticks and trying to beat me still while I was cordoned by police. Many of them even tried to go into the police van. Police removed them and it continued almost half a kilometre.” I want to say that police played here a big role but will it be possible for police to protect teachers from such kind of wrath of the public who get infuriated without considering the real cause of any incident or false implication? When we found that Hridoy Mondol was coming out of the jail through a narrow door bowing down his head, it seems the entire teaching community’s bowing down their head to the ruffians of the society, which must not be allowed to happen for the greater interest of the nation.
One national daily published a report on this incident stating that giving students more marks than they deserve in the test exams, conflict among the teachers over private tuition, benefits illegally given by private teachers along with a big financial corruption of the school worked behind the case of Hridoy Mondol. He did not have any connection with those incidents but the local politics and muscle men involved in the school affairs wanted to make him a victim. Several days back I saw on Facebook that one madrasa teacher wearing a traditional long dress had been beaten by a giant figure man in the open field which was being witnessed by many people surrounding the field. Do these incidents just remind us of what is happening around us in our society? But the society and state seem to be playing the role of silent spectators. Do our teachers deserve it?
Many things are discussed in our National Assembly. I want to request the lawmakers to formulate a law in the country that nobody should take law into their own hands in respect of any case with teachers, whatever powerful they are. If somebody tries to do it, that will be treated as a serious crime and if anybody does it, immediate action must be taken against them first by the local law enforcement agencies and then by the court. The incidents we have been witnessing prove the sign of a rotten society. We must start from somewhere else to stop this rotting. Let us start from here— stopping teacher harassment. We must shun any politics here. Just take it as a big national issue where the interest of our future generation gets involved.
The writer is an education expert