Don’t burden schoolchildren with politics

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Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader yesterday opposed the formation of Bangladesh Chhatra League committees in schools, saying there is no need to put the “burden of politics” on children.

“The concept of school committee [of BCL] is wrong. There is no need to have any school committee…. There is no need to invite criticism for no reason,” he said, while speaking at a programme organised to mark the Martyred Intellectuals Day and the Victory Day at Bangla Academy.

“Schoolchildren are already burdened with textbooks and studies. There is no need to put the burden of politics on their shoulders,” said Quader, also road transport and bridges minister.

His comments came just a month after the announcement on forming BCL committees at secondary schools.

Following a decision at an emergency meeting on November 21, the BCL central executive committee asked all its organisational units to set up committees at schools in their areas.

The main objective behind the move was to “spread the ideologies of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman among the students and strengthen the organisation further,” said the pro-Awami League student body.

The move triggered sharp criticism in social media. Educationists expressed concerns that it would adversely affect the tender minds of children and lead to violence on school campuses as seen in public colleges and universities.

Their fear soon came true.

On November 29, a Chhatra League leader of a Pirojpur school beat up a teacher.

Tenth grader Shah Amanat Shanto, also president of Chhatra League in Sreeramkathi UJK High School in Nazirpur, and four other boys assaulted the teacher when he was giving tuition to some students in his home.

The same teacher had caught Shanto, an SSC examinee, red-handed cheating in a test exam two days before the assault.

Following the incident, the school authorities decided not to allow political activities there. Later, the BCL committee there was dissolved.

Yesterday, Obaidul Quader advised the Chhatra League to strengthen the committees at college and university levels.

“In colleges and universities, there must be student politics. But the Chhatra League will have to be alert so that no chaos, which happens sometimes, can take place.

“This is an election year. Such incidents are fewer now, compared with the past. We hope they will come down to zero, to none at all. A handful of such incidents do take place. But it cannot be that the government will have to shoulder the responsibility for that,” he said.

The BCL men started drawing condemnation for their unruly behaviour as soon as the AL returned to power in January 2009. Annoyed, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina resigned from the post of BCL’s organisational leader in April that year.

As some BCL leaders and activists continued to indulge in unlawful activities, her office the next year ordered the home ministry to take action against tender violence and other misdeeds by any organisation, even those belonging to or backed by the ruling party.

Each year since 2009, internal clashes in and outside colleges and universities claimed several lives of BCL leaders and activists.

At least 125 people have been killed in such violence in the past eight years, according to media reports.

The victims include 71 BCL leaders and activists, of whom 60 were killed in internal feuds and 11 in clashes with rival organisations. The rest were general people, including children.

According to rights organisation Ain o Salish Kendra, two people were killed and 156 others injured in 20 incidents of BCL infighting from January to September this year.

BCL President Saifur Rahman Sohag and its General Secretary SM Zakir Hossain did not pick up the calls for comments.

Zakir also did not respond to the text message requesting his reaction to Quader’s remarks.

*News Searching By thedailystar*

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