Skip to content

The Crippling Future

March 9, 2016

In observing March 7 , the day when Bangabandhu hinted to pursue the path of independence during the political impasse in 1971, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina addressed jubilant party loyalists at the Suhrawardy Uddyan. In her speech, she reiterated her commitment to build “ poverty-free and hunger-free Sonar Bangla” despite whatever odds she might face and resorted to typical BNP bashing for all the maladies the country is suffering right now.

The mass gathering took place just a day before the International Women’s Day. Two female heads of two key parties have long embodied the ultimate women empowerment in a Muslim-majority country that has impressive record in many social indicators.

But the ground reality is changing fast. One economist in a recent analysis has shown that in the club of lower-middle income countries Bangladesh’s public spending on education as a percentage of GDP is lower (only 2%) than that of other member countries. How can a progressive and secular government let this happen? Maybe it does not believe in securing the future of millions of Bangladeshis. Why should it be concerned about? At least the future of ruling elite, and their dear ones, is already secured in the Begumparas of Canada and Malaysia.

A reversing trend in women’s education and empowerment is being observed despite the fact that women are in a leadership position in our country. A recent report of a popular daily indicated that two-thirds of the adolescent girls get married before they reach the age of 18, the legal marriage age. Another report on the same daily reported women participation to total workforce has significantly declined. Referring to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) survey 2013, the report said that in 2010 participation of women to total workforce was 36%; in 2013 it was declined to 33.5%. And it is not the end. According to a recent BBC Bangla report, half of the female students cannot carry through their education at the higher secondary level.

These numbers clearly contradict the government’s commitment for a knowledge-based society. While policies after policies being formulated to make “Digital Bangladesh” a reality, we see our society regresses in terms of educating and empowering women. This compromise on literacy and hampering people’s ability to think, judge and act will neither be a katalyst nor be a boon to a prosperous and digital country. Govt’s deeds so far, it seems to me, are to provide public funds to the long digestive tube that nourishes only the unending greed of party loyalists.

I am really horrified to imagine the future “Digital Bangladesh” where an important section of the society left abandoned by the negligence of govt, by its inaction, by its lack of vision to create enough economic opportunities for the have-nots, and by its poor social safety net schemes. In this backdrop the future of a female school dropout looks like an unhappy mother who ,with her unmet dreams, is struggling to raise and educate her children in a family stricken by hardship . How could you fit this mother –whose potentials and contributions to the society were clipped at a very young age–into the picture of “Digital Bangladesh”? How could a nation be happy and prosperous by keeping so many mothers unhappy? Are we not creating the preamble to a great digital divide by accelerating the drop-out rate of female students at higher secondary level?

Perhaps our development programs and policies, at their centers, are missing the target people to whom the policies are apparently meant and designed. And windfall fortune for policymakers is the end result of such mismatching and disoriented policy. No wonder why this greed-generating trend never stops.

We are spending billions to fortify our borders, to forestall future foreign invasion. But there are internal threats we face from evils—fanaticism, communalism, corruption, political violence, intolerance, fraudulence etc—that exist in our society. They could paralyze our society by undermining the very fabric of our society. Yet, we are not even ready to spend peanut of those mammoth defense spending on education to create a sage nation that will be a true asset against all social evils and retrogressive forces. By letting these girls leave their school and by forcing them marry at such a tender age we are heading towards a crippling future that certainly a middle-income Bangladesh does not deserve.

Advertisements

From → Analysis

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: