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Alarming fall in the standard of education

Whoever creative thinker, sage or erudite visionary was of the view that “education is the backbone of a nation” must be turning in his grave now at the doomed to failure disconsolately abject scenario in the education sector of this country for the simple reason that the educational institutions including the public universities have become safe haven for gangsters of the Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) — the student front of the ruling Awami League — armed with lethal weapons resulting in violence, gun battles, bloodletting and deaths not only of the students affiliated to the Opposition BNP and its allies but also those of the same feather, BCL.
True, varsity campuses have not been very quiet places for teaching since long, but all hell broke loose during the past six years and tense environment persisted as BCL activists virtually took control of the campuses and dormitories that became centres of corporate affairs dealing with government tenders and business contracts. Despite the fact that the internecine mortal clashes between two groups of (BCL) resulting in fratricide on all the university campuses including Dhaka, the ruling AL has miserably failed to control these wayward butchers who have not given a damn even to the most powerful person in the Republic, the Prime Minister. This unseemly state of affairs has continued unabated since the AL’s coming to power in 2009.
In July 2010 as many as 33 students were injured, two with bullets, during a factional feud of Bangladesh Chhatra League at Jahangirnagar University (JU) over control of a male dormitory. JU Vice-chancellor Prof Sharif Enamul Kabir was assaulted and Assistant Proctor ASM Firoz Ul Hasan wounded in the conflict. Reports said the clash followed after Enayet Kabir Emil and four to five others, all loyal to the university unit BCL General Secretary Nirjhar Alam, beat up Kazi Mostofa Monwar Sajib, of unit President Rashedul Islam Shafin’s group, at Al-Beruni Hall. Emil took control of the dormitory. Incidents such as the above have been taking place since the early part of 2009. To this, the then Home Minister’s reaction was: “Such things can happen.” However, the nation has witnessed an annoyed PM in 2009 take a very mild and soft step against the murderous BCL members, declaring her resignation from the BCL as its patron. People were dumbfounded at this rather very tolerant step against such crimes.
Thanks to the Education Minister, the past five years have seen a deluge of GPA-5 scorers in SSC and HSC levels, but, pitiably, they could not prove their worth in the varsity admission tests. What is more, hundreds of aspirants sat for test exam for150 seats in English department of Dhaka University, and only 2 candidates qualified! Around 92 per cent of sixth graders don’t have the required competence in English, and 89 per cent of them lack proficiency in Bangla, according to a government survey. The picture is also dismal in the case of mathematics as more than 82 per cent of them cannot gain expected competence in the subject, shows the Learning Assessment Survey-2013.
In mathematics, 22 per cent of the students gained competence, mentions the survey report launched at a national workshop at the National Academy for Educational Management in the capital on November 07, 2014. The findings came amid growing concern over the standard of education following appalling results in recently-held admission tests at Dhaka University. Over 90 per cent applicants looking for admission to Dhaka University this year with excellent results both in SSC and HSC examinations, have failed to obtain even the pass marks in its ‘Kha’ unit, exposing the awful picture of the country’s education quality, said a news report on 27 September 2014. Experts said the poor performance of students in the admission tests of the country’s premier educational institution after a huge pass rate of 78.33 per cent with more than 70,000 GPA-5 achievers in the HSC examination this year indicates that quality education still remains a far cry. Only 9.55 per cent participants had been able to attain the pass marks in the recently-held ‘Kha’ unit test for admission to first year honours under the 2014-15 academic session of the university. The pass rate in ‘Ka’ and ‘Ga’ units’ admission tests of the university is also not satisfactory as 21.5 per cent participants got the pass mark in ‘Ka’ unit and 20.61 per cent in ‘Ga’ unit.
A total of 40,565 applicants who came from Humanities Group with minimum aggregated GPA of SSC and HSC 7 without grade point of fourth subjects, took part in the ‘Kha’ unit admission test held on September 19, but only 3,874 got the pass marks. In the ‘Ga’ unit admission test held on September 5, only 9,906 out of 48,056 participants, who came from business studies group with minimum aggregated GPA 7.5 of SSC and HSC obtained pass marks. In the HSC examination 2014, a total of 70,602 students got GPA-5 out of total of 1,141,374 examinees under the 10 education boards, including technical and madrasah boards.
With the exercise of learning and imparting knowledge thus bruised and mangled, education per se whatsoever is in effect absent. The good results in the public examinations will be futile unless the quality of education cannot be ensured.

Comment

Whoever creative thinker, sage or erudite visionary was of the view that “education is the backbone of a nation” must be turning in his grave now at the doomed to failure disconsolately abject scenario in the education sector of this country for the simple reason that the educational institutions including the public universities have become safe haven for gangsters of the Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) — the student front of the ruling Awami League — armed with lethal weapons resulting in violence, gun battles, bloodletting and deaths not only of the students affiliated to the Opposition BNP and its allies but also those of the same feather, BCL.
True, varsity campuses have not been very quiet places for teaching since long, but all hell broke loose during the past six years and tense environment persisted as BCL activists virtually took control of the campuses and dormitories that became centres of corporate affairs dealing with government tenders and business contracts. Despite the fact that the internecine mortal clashes between two groups of (BCL) resulting in fratricide on all the university campuses including Dhaka, the ruling AL has miserably failed to control these wayward butchers who have not given a damn even to the most powerful person in the Republic, the Prime Minister. This unseemly state of affairs has continued unabated since the AL’s coming to power in 2009.
In July 2010 as many as 33 students were injured, two with bullets, during a factional feud of Bangladesh Chhatra League at Jahangirnagar University (JU) over control of a male dormitory. JU Vice-chancellor Prof Sharif Enamul Kabir was assaulted and Assistant Proctor ASM Firoz Ul Hasan wounded in the conflict. Reports said the clash followed after Enayet Kabir Emil and four to five others, all loyal to the university unit BCL General Secretary Nirjhar Alam, beat up Kazi Mostofa Monwar Sajib, of unit President Rashedul Islam Shafin’s group, at Al-Beruni Hall. Emil took control of the dormitory. Incidents such as the above have been taking place since the early part of 2009. To this, the then Home Minister’s reaction was: “Such things can happen.” However, the nation has witnessed an annoyed PM in 2009 take a very mild and soft step against the murderous BCL members, declaring her resignation from the BCL as its patron. People were dumbfounded at this rather very tolerant step against such crimes.
Thanks to the Education Minister, the past five years have seen a deluge of GPA-5 scorers in SSC and HSC levels, but, pitiably, they could not prove their worth in the varsity admission tests. What is more, hundreds of aspirants sat for test exam for150 seats in English department of Dhaka University, and only 2 candidates qualified! Around 92 per cent of sixth graders don’t have the required competence in English, and 89 per cent of them lack proficiency in Bangla, according to a government survey. The picture is also dismal in the case of mathematics as more than 82 per cent of them cannot gain expected competence in the subject, shows the Learning Assessment Survey-2013.
In mathematics, 22 per cent of the students gained competence, mentions the survey report launched at a national workshop at the National Academy for Educational Management in the capital on November 07, 2014. The findings came amid growing concern over the standard of education following appalling results in recently-held admission tests at Dhaka University. Over 90 per cent applicants looking for admission to Dhaka University this year with excellent results both in SSC and HSC examinations, have failed to obtain even the pass marks in its ‘Kha’ unit, exposing the awful picture of the country’s education quality, said a news report on 27 September 2014. Experts said the poor performance of students in the admission tests of the country’s premier educational institution after a huge pass rate of 78.33 per cent with more than 70,000 GPA-5 achievers in the HSC examination this year indicates that quality education still remains a far cry. Only 9.55 per cent participants had been able to attain the pass marks in the recently-held ‘Kha’ unit test for admission to first year honours under the 2014-15 academic session of the university. The pass rate in ‘Ka’ and ‘Ga’ units’ admission tests of the university is also not satisfactory as 21.5 per cent participants got the pass mark in ‘Ka’ unit and 20.61 per cent in ‘Ga’ unit.
A total of 40,565 applicants who came from Humanities Group with minimum aggregated GPA of SSC and HSC 7 without grade point of fourth subjects, took part in the ‘Kha’ unit admission test held on September 19, but only 3,874 got the pass marks. In the ‘Ga’ unit admission test held on September 5, only 9,906 out of 48,056 participants, who came from business studies group with minimum aggregated GPA 7.5 of SSC and HSC obtained pass marks. In the HSC examination 2014, a total of 70,602 students got GPA-5 out of total of 1,141,374 examinees under the 10 education boards, including technical and madrasah boards.
With the exercise of learning and imparting knowledge thus bruised and mangled, education per se whatsoever is in effect absent. The good results in the public examinations will be futile unless the quality of education cannot be ensured.


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Russia veers towards China and Asian countries

Barrister Harun ur Rashid

The concept of Russia’s pivot towards Asia launched in APEC summit in Vladivostok in 2012 has been revived as Russia’s geopolitical relationship with the West broke down because of Ukraine crisis. Russia has become not only to closer to China but also stepped up its efforts in pursuing vigorous relationships with other Asian countries including India, Pakistan, Egypt and Turkey. Putin accused the United States of influencing Russia’s relations with its neighbors and said that it had become unclear “whom to talk to: to the governments of certain countries or directly with their American patrons and sponsors.”   Russia took steps to undermine the United States internationally by co-opting negotiations over Syria and then by granting sanctuary to U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden. Moscow advanced the notion that it was a major international player on par with the United States.

Gas sale to China
Russian President during this year visited China five times. Economic uncertainty and political fallout over Ukraine crisis has compelled Russia to become closer to China. During the trip in November to China, President Putin expanded an agreement earlier this year to sell Russian gas to China.  In May the two sides signed an agreement worth $400 billion for Russia to supply China for 30 years. The new expanded agreement foresees a second pipeline route.
Lately Gazprom has been accelerating the pace of collaboration with its Chinese partners. The construction of pipeline from Siberia which will be the world’s largest when finished is carried out by at full speed. The western route (5,000 miles) may be launched sooner than the eastern one due to the already available pipelines and infrastructure.
Russian crude oil major Rosneft has reportedly invited the China National Petroleum Company to take a stake in the mammoth Siberian oil deposit, Vankor. During a meeting in October Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev and Chinese Prime Minister Li Kequiang, the two sides signed a raft of 38 separate agreements covering energy, finance and technology which Medvedev said would help double bilateral trade over the five years to $200 billion.

Challenge to global financial system 
Russia and China have decided to make trade settlements in rubles and yuan. The decision is just the latest move in increased cooperation between the two countries. It is a mutually beneficial idea for Russia and China to transition to making settlements in their national currencies during trade and it is positive in terms of cooperation in the BRICS framework. The agreement to use national currencies in trade is seen as diversification of their currencies and could pose a challenge to the current global financial system.
The ruble-yuan pair has been traded on the Moscow and Shanghai stock exchanges since 2010 Russia-China trade totaled $43 billion in the first half of 2014 and Russian trade is increasing with China.
Russia and China reportedly fleshed out the idea of creating funds in regional financial institutions that would lend to the regional economy and finance strategic projects. The centerpiece of the idea is to creation by China of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank-AIIB- (Bangladesh became one of the founding members). This bank poses a challenge to the activities of the US-dominated World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The BRICS Development Bank (NDB), the AIIB and the Silk Road Fund are all initiatives spearheaded by China that symbolize its growing influence in development funding and potential new sources of financing,
The NDB has been established by the BRICS, with a global remit to lend to developing countries. The AIIB is focused on Asia, with the 21 founding members all Asian countries and a mandate to provide infrastructure financing for Asian developing countries. Both banks will be headquartered in China, with the NDB headquartered in Beijing and the AIIB headquartered in Shanghai. Clearly, China will play a major role in both banks as a key source of capital, but the decision-making structure will comprise a governing board with representatives from other developing countries.

Russians view China positively
The impact on development financing flows to developing countries from these initiatives could be very substantial. The NDB will have initial authorized capital of $100 billion and initial subscribed capital of $50 billion and also a Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) with capital of $100 billion. The AIIB will have initial authorized capital of $100 billion, with subscribed capital likely to be around $50 billion.
Russia perceives the Chinese moves of creating new financial institutions will curb the domination of the US in international financial institutions and reduce the US dollar influence on the global market.
Recent research has shown that in the light of recent development between China and Russian relationship, a growing number of Russians view positive  of China-51 per cent now view it as Russia’s main ally, up from 23 per cent in 2008.
The writer is former Bangladesh Ambassador to the UN,Geneva.

Comment

Barrister Harun ur Rashid

The concept of Russia’s pivot towards Asia launched in APEC summit in Vladivostok in 2012 has been revived as Russia’s geopolitical relationship with the West broke down because of Ukraine crisis. Russia has become not only to closer to China but also stepped up its efforts in pursuing vigorous relationships with other Asian countries including India, Pakistan, Egypt and Turkey. Putin accused the United States of influencing Russia’s relations with its neighbors and said that it had become unclear “whom to talk to: to the governments of certain countries or directly with their American patrons and sponsors.”   Russia took steps to undermine the United States internationally by co-opting negotiations over Syria and then by granting sanctuary to U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden. Moscow advanced the notion that it was a major international player on par with the United States.

Gas sale to China
Russian President during this year visited China five times. Economic uncertainty and political fallout over Ukraine crisis has compelled Russia to become closer to China. During the trip in November to China, President Putin expanded an agreement earlier this year to sell Russian gas to China.  In May the two sides signed an agreement worth $400 billion for Russia to supply China for 30 years. The new expanded agreement foresees a second pipeline route.
Lately Gazprom has been accelerating the pace of collaboration with its Chinese partners. The construction of pipeline from Siberia which will be the world’s largest when finished is carried out by at full speed. The western route (5,000 miles) may be launched sooner than the eastern one due to the already available pipelines and infrastructure.
Russian crude oil major Rosneft has reportedly invited the China National Petroleum Company to take a stake in the mammoth Siberian oil deposit, Vankor. During a meeting in October Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev and Chinese Prime Minister Li Kequiang, the two sides signed a raft of 38 separate agreements covering energy, finance and technology which Medvedev said would help double bilateral trade over the five years to $200 billion.

Challenge to global financial system 
Russia and China have decided to make trade settlements in rubles and yuan. The decision is just the latest move in increased cooperation between the two countries. It is a mutually beneficial idea for Russia and China to transition to making settlements in their national currencies during trade and it is positive in terms of cooperation in the BRICS framework. The agreement to use national currencies in trade is seen as diversification of their currencies and could pose a challenge to the current global financial system.
The ruble-yuan pair has been traded on the Moscow and Shanghai stock exchanges since 2010 Russia-China trade totaled $43 billion in the first half of 2014 and Russian trade is increasing with China.
Russia and China reportedly fleshed out the idea of creating funds in regional financial institutions that would lend to the regional economy and finance strategic projects. The centerpiece of the idea is to creation by China of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank-AIIB- (Bangladesh became one of the founding members). This bank poses a challenge to the activities of the US-dominated World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The BRICS Development Bank (NDB), the AIIB and the Silk Road Fund are all initiatives spearheaded by China that symbolize its growing influence in development funding and potential new sources of financing,
The NDB has been established by the BRICS, with a global remit to lend to developing countries. The AIIB is focused on Asia, with the 21 founding members all Asian countries and a mandate to provide infrastructure financing for Asian developing countries. Both banks will be headquartered in China, with the NDB headquartered in Beijing and the AIIB headquartered in Shanghai. Clearly, China will play a major role in both banks as a key source of capital, but the decision-making structure will comprise a governing board with representatives from other developing countries.

Russians view China positively
The impact on development financing flows to developing countries from these initiatives could be very substantial. The NDB will have initial authorized capital of $100 billion and initial subscribed capital of $50 billion and also a Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) with capital of $100 billion. The AIIB will have initial authorized capital of $100 billion, with subscribed capital likely to be around $50 billion.
Russia perceives the Chinese moves of creating new financial institutions will curb the domination of the US in international financial institutions and reduce the US dollar influence on the global market.
Recent research has shown that in the light of recent development between China and Russian relationship, a growing number of Russians view positive  of China-51 per cent now view it as Russia’s main ally, up from 23 per cent in 2008.
The writer is former Bangladesh Ambassador to the UN,Geneva.


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 VIEW POINT

Gender prejudice deplorable: Women have equal rights

Parvez Babul

THE United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 10 December as the Human Rights Day in 1950 to bring to the attention of the peoples of the world the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations. This year’s theme: Human Rights 365, encompasses the idea that every day is a human rights day. Considering the situation, research shows that women and girls are the most sufferers of human rights violation in their lives due to deprivation, discrimination and violence against them.
According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, around 87 per cent of the married women in the country suffer violence at home, but only 2.36 per cent of them take legal steps against their husbands. About 65 per cent of women were married before they reached the minimum marriageable age of 18 years in Bangladesh.
UNFPA Country Representative of Bangladesh Argentina Matavel said, “Commitment both at family and social levels is crucial for stopping such violence, adding that the culture of denial of grim state of women by officials is a great barrier.” Education, awareness and action are badly needed for fighting violence and deprivation of women, she added.  
There are millions of examples of sexual assault, eve teasing/ stalking and violence against girls and women in the world. The rate of violence against women and girls is alarmingly high and terribly crossed the numbers of previous records. Initiative must be taken to put an end to these life-threatening problems of girls and women and enforce laws impartially to punish the perpetrators.

Patterns of gender- based violence
Once I saw a woman crying keeping her head at the knee of the late Nasreen Huq of Naripokkho, an NGO. After the woman had left, what I heard from Huq was unbelievable. That woman from a well-off family was a working lady and a close friend of Nasreen Huq. The husband of that woman used to mercilessly beat her very often. Once he forcibly kept her in the room of their pet dog. The fact is, the drug-addicted husband used demand money from that woman and beat her if she refused.
In lower class families husbands beat their wives and sometimes kill them. The guilty/ perpetrators are seldom punished, because of loopholes in the law.

Social movement needed
The United Nations estimates, 125 countries have laws that penalise domestic violence, a huge step forward from just a decade ago; but up to seven in 10 women continue to be targeted for physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime. 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is still not a crime! In reality, women’s network is weaker than the network of men, because in the patriarchal families or societies network of the relatives is not favourable for women. That is why men must join with women to strengthen their network of social movement and establishing their rights.
Pursuant to the clarification of both feminism and humanism — women are not inferior, men are not superior; both women and men are equal. Considering all these backwardness — self-awareness and respect is very important for women. Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women. Rights activists of Bangladesh have been logically demanding full ratification of CEDAW by the government in Bangladesh since its inception.
Both feminism and humanism teach us to be real human beings. So, both feminism and humanism perfectly cover our demands, philosophies, and principles of women’s rights movement to create awareness, to be proactive, and to go into action. The undeniable reality is: women and girls, men and boys have equal human rights.
Gender is a cross-cutting issue. Women empowerment is a social and cultural issue. Gender equity, equality, mainstreaming gender into development and gender justice are interlinked. Engaging men and changing their negative mindsets towards women and girls are very much vital to make a positive change to ending gender based violence.

Comment

Parvez Babul

THE United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 10 December as the Human Rights Day in 1950 to bring to the attention of the peoples of the world the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations. This year’s theme: Human Rights 365, encompasses the idea that every day is a human rights day. Considering the situation, research shows that women and girls are the most sufferers of human rights violation in their lives due to deprivation, discrimination and violence against them.
According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, around 87 per cent of the married women in the country suffer violence at home, but only 2.36 per cent of them take legal steps against their husbands. About 65 per cent of women were married before they reached the minimum marriageable age of 18 years in Bangladesh.
UNFPA Country Representative of Bangladesh Argentina Matavel said, “Commitment both at family and social levels is crucial for stopping such violence, adding that the culture of denial of grim state of women by officials is a great barrier.” Education, awareness and action are badly needed for fighting violence and deprivation of women, she added.  
There are millions of examples of sexual assault, eve teasing/ stalking and violence against girls and women in the world. The rate of violence against women and girls is alarmingly high and terribly crossed the numbers of previous records. Initiative must be taken to put an end to these life-threatening problems of girls and women and enforce laws impartially to punish the perpetrators.

Patterns of gender- based violence
Once I saw a woman crying keeping her head at the knee of the late Nasreen Huq of Naripokkho, an NGO. After the woman had left, what I heard from Huq was unbelievable. That woman from a well-off family was a working lady and a close friend of Nasreen Huq. The husband of that woman used to mercilessly beat her very often. Once he forcibly kept her in the room of their pet dog. The fact is, the drug-addicted husband used demand money from that woman and beat her if she refused.
In lower class families husbands beat their wives and sometimes kill them. The guilty/ perpetrators are seldom punished, because of loopholes in the law.

Social movement needed
The United Nations estimates, 125 countries have laws that penalise domestic violence, a huge step forward from just a decade ago; but up to seven in 10 women continue to be targeted for physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime. 603 million women live in countries where domestic violence is still not a crime! In reality, women’s network is weaker than the network of men, because in the patriarchal families or societies network of the relatives is not favourable for women. That is why men must join with women to strengthen their network of social movement and establishing their rights.
Pursuant to the clarification of both feminism and humanism — women are not inferior, men are not superior; both women and men are equal. Considering all these backwardness — self-awareness and respect is very important for women. Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women. Rights activists of Bangladesh have been logically demanding full ratification of CEDAW by the government in Bangladesh since its inception.
Both feminism and humanism teach us to be real human beings. So, both feminism and humanism perfectly cover our demands, philosophies, and principles of women’s rights movement to create awareness, to be proactive, and to go into action. The undeniable reality is: women and girls, men and boys have equal human rights.
Gender is a cross-cutting issue. Women empowerment is a social and cultural issue. Gender equity, equality, mainstreaming gender into development and gender justice are interlinked. Engaging men and changing their negative mindsets towards women and girls are very much vital to make a positive change to ending gender based violence.


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