Eid Mubarak

Bangladesh on Saturday celebrated Eid-ul-Azha festival, the Muslim’s second largest festival, in a befitting manner and religious fervor.

Bangladesh President Zillur Raman greeted the people of the country in a message. He also exchanged Eid greetings with people after saying the prayer at the national open-air mosque Eidgah in the capital Dhaka.

The Eid-ul-Azha was celebrated across the country on Saturday and sacrificed cattles and other animals like goat and camel marking the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim (SW) to sacrifice his son Prophet Ismael (SW) as an act of obedience to Allah over 4,000years ago. But later Allah advised Ibrahim (SW) to sacrifice an animal. Since then Muslim started to celebrate the occasion.

On this day, people of profession and class forget their differences and exchange greeting with each other.

Almost all able persons sacrifice cattle or other animals of both and distribute those among poor people, who cannot offer to sacrifice animals.

There is provision that seven families can share one cattle. Many rich persons in Bangladesh sacrifice more than one cattle and distribute the meat among the poor.

Bangladeshi satellite with help of leading countries for future security

Future problems in space with satellite attacks. Many countries are now beginning to get their own defence satellites. Satellites are vulnerable but extremely important for defence.-guru


Bangladesh plans to launch its own communications satellite within a year, Post and Telecommunications Minister Raziuddin Ahmed Raju said yesterday.

The cost of the programme will be between $150 million and $200 million, he said.

The minister disclosed the government plan to reporters during a media briefing.

“We’ve already started talking to different countries including the US, Japan and China, to help us launch our own satellite,” the minister told The Daily Star over the phone.

The satellite would serve commercial purposes including improving telecom services, helping to meet the booming demand for it. Telecom operators could subscribe to satellite services on a commercial basis, the minister added.

Television broadcasting, and meteorological data including disaster warnings would be available easily by the satellite. It might also be used for mapping natural resources, and to predict weather to help farmers, experts said.

“We are very serious. We hope to give the people the good news soon,” said Raju.

He said the government is discussing the technical aspects with the US, Japan and China that have vast experience in the field. Some other countries are also showing interest, he added.

After assessing the proposals of interested countries, the government will pick the one that is most favourable for Bangladesh, the telecom minister said.

“Financing by the interested country will be an important criterion for awarding the contract,” he said.

Experts have welcomed the venture saying that satellite technology would provide quality and faster telecom services to the people, and reduce the risks associated with natural calamities.

“A satellite of our own can benefit us a lot, including better weather forecasting and survey of mineral resources,” said Satya Prasad Majumder, a professor of electrical engineering and electronics at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet).

Currently, Bangladesh subscribes to information about its mineral resources from the US, he said.

Majumder said a satellite could also help control mass communication traffic, such as television and radio broadcasting.

“You don’t need a cable TV network if you have satellite services,” the Buet professor also an expert on communication technology told The Daily Star.

Syed Margub Morshed, former chairman of Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission said a satellite can give a country uninterrupted communication services.

?If the fibre optic cable is snapped, services will remain undisturbed through VSAT for the satellite,” he said.

There are several thousand satellites in space, launched by more than 50 countries. Bangladesh’s neighbours India and Pakistan launched their own satellites in 1980 and 1990 respectively.

2 jailed for beating crocodile at Khan Jahan Ali shrine in Bangladesh

A court in southwestern Bangladesh has jailed two men for severely beating a pregnant crocodile at an Islamic shrine, a news report said Thursday.

Judge Abdus Salam Khan convicted the men of torturing the crocodile and sentenced them Tuesday to two years in jail with hard labor, Dhaka’s Daily Star newspaper reported.

The crocodile, named “Pipil,” was seriously injured and lost one eye after the men beat her with bamboo sticks at Khan Jahan Ali shrine in April this year, the prosecution said. The shrine is in Bagerhat district, 135 kilometers (85 miles) southwest of the capital, Dhaka.

The men pleaded innocent, the newspaper said.

The shrine has about two dozen crocodiles living in a big pond where pilgrims can feed and watch them.

The men were among a group of people who collect money from visitors by exhibiting the crocodiles. The group is known to beat the crocodiles if they do not respond to their calls, the newspaper said.

According to local authorities, five crocodiles have died in the last 10 years because of mistreatment by the group, it said.

Crocodiles are protected under Bangladesh law, and offenders face up to five years in jail for torturing or killing them.

Copenhagen climate convention and int’l environment court

This map shows total carbon dioxide emissions from fossil-fuel burning, cement production, and gas flaring for the world's countries in 2000. Emissions are expressed in million metric tons of carbon. The map was created by a team of climate and health scientists led by Jonathan Patz, associate professor of environmental studies and population health sciences at UW-Madison. Map courtesy the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment.
This map shows total carbon dioxide emissions from fossil-fuel burning, cement production, and gas flaring for the world's countries in 2000. Emissions are expressed in million metric tons of carbon. The map was created by a team of climate and health scientists led by Jonathan Patz, associate professor of environmental studies and population health sciences at UW-Madison. Map courtesy the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment.

In a recent chilling assessment, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that human-induced changes in the Earth’s climate now lead to at least 5 million cases of illness and more than 150,000 deaths every year.

Temperature fluctuations may sway human health in a surprising number of ways, scientists have learned, from influencing the spread of infectious diseases to boosting the likelihood of illness-inducing heat waves and floods

AS the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at Copenhagen draws closer, it is worthwhile to review once again what is at stake for us and to clearly articulate the position that Bangladesh needs to take in the various phases of negotiations. The prime minister will attend the Convention, which may well define the fate of our country in the near future, and is expected to present the case of Bangladesh and similar countries that will be affected in various ways by climate change.

One reason the citizens of Bangladesh consider this Convention so important for our future is that it might set the tone for the development strategy we will pursue for transition to a low carbon economy, and the support we can expect to receive from the global community to adopt low-carbon technologies and to combat the deleterious effects of global warming.
Bangladesh group calls for int’l environment court
The Bangladesh-based Citizen Network on Climate Change is calling for an international court on the environment.

The pressure group, at an open meeting in Dhaka this week, also stressed that the public must have a say on climate change plans at policy level.

Short and long term measures must ensure policy makers were more accountable to the public with respect to measures for combating the grave outcome of global warming, said the group.

They also asked their government to clarify Bangladesh’s stand in the upcoming Copenhagen Climate Conference, alongside ensuring the participation of common people in setting policy regarding climate change.

Calling for an international environmental court, they said it was urgent for checking the nations most responsible for climate change, they said.

The court would try environmental crimes and take steps against guilty states or companies responsible for high emissions and other forms of global pollution so that affected countries could get compensation, said the group.

Power of the most influential states must also be curtailed to prevent them from vetoing any lawful decision regarding global climate change, they said.

The idea of an international court for the environment has also been proposed by concerned groups in other countries in the lead-up to the Copenhagen conference this December.

A group of UK lawyers are leading a campaign for a body, similar to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, that would be the supreme legal authority on issues regarding the environment.

They also suggest that the first role of the new body would be to enforce international agreements on cutting greenhouse gas emissions set to be agreed in December.

The UN Conference of Parties (COP15) in Copenhagen next month aims to secure a new agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol. Developing countries are looking to developed nations to commit to cutting emissions drastically.

The Bangladesh group, in its meeting this week, also called for a UN commission on climate change to push for adoption of environment friendly technologies, among other measures.

International efforts need to be reinforced to explore renewable alternative fuels and technologies and their availability to poor and vulnerable countries, said the group.

They also called on their government to adopt feasible short term and long term strategies to ensure rehabilitation, food security and health care for the affected population.

The public meeting was chaired by executive director of INCIDIN Bangladesh, AKM Mostaque Ali, at the organisation’s office on Sunday.

A vital limitation of Bangladesh law- no redemption of false case putter.

I am not a man of? law learned but having?the basic?concept that law is moral, law is right,law is for justice.

So cann,t we easily expect the punishment of a false case putter?

What is the real situation of our law infrustucture ,In a judicial bench one of the judge of chittagong court? deliver a statatics of false case that 40% of our total case are are faulse.We have judge shortage according to necessity.So to solve a case it takes lengthy time. This is a confident comment that if we can protect the false case we can save 40% time & money of the contry to excercise real law and order.We can go the success way of democracy and human rights………….to be continued

LeT’s Google Earth link to 26/11 secured

Google Earth Pro-Gold Edition
Google Earth Pro-Gold Edition

Syed Abdul Rehman: A top Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) leader ?is learnt to have bought a Google Earth Pro service in October last year, weeks before the 26/11 terror strikes on Mumbai.

Sources in the security establishment feel Rehman may have played a crucial role in plotting the 26/11 attacks, especially since Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone terrorist captured alive during the attacks, has admitted to having been made familiar with the targets in Mumbai using Google Earth.

But Rehman, who handled David Coleman Headley and Tahawwur Hussain Rana, had not figured on the radar of Indian security agencies until now.

Inputs emerging over the past few weeks show that Rehman has been controlling a network of terrorists in Bangladesh, Nepal, the Gulf and, possibly, southern India.

Though not identified by the FBI by name, Rehman is the LeT handler ‘A’ in the criminal complaints filed by the agency in Chicago against Headley and Rana, the sources said.

Rehman was the key contact between the duo and Ilyas Kashmiri, a Pakistani army commando-turned-terrorist. Investigators are also trying to verify the phone numbers in Pakistan that were used by handlers to talk to terrorists in Mumbai on 26/11 last year.

They are also trying to find out if the VOIP numbers that were used during the attacks had any connection with the Headley-Rana network. So far, no credible evidence has emerged in this regard.

Rehman, the sources say, is also the handler for Muthu, a Bangladesh based LeT leader who is a key operative of the LeT-HuJI network that has deep links in South India.

The most famous of the network’s operatives was Shahid Bilal, a resident of Hyderabad (India) who was involved in several terror attacks in South India and was mysteriously killed in Karachi in 2007.

So the picture emerging shows that Rehman was a senior LeT operative based in Lahore who, using the garb of an immigration agency First World Consultancy Pvt Ltd, was playing a key role in attacks in India.

He is believed to be handling the movement of terrorists, recce and, probably, the distribution of payments to various modules.

“To me it looks like Rehman was the one tasked to carry out recce and selection of targets, and providing details to the terrorists,” a senior source in the security establishment told.

The LeT network: Is Rehman the missing link?

Hafiz Saeed: Founder of LeT Zaki-ur-Rehman

Lakhvi/Yusuf Muzammil: Senior operatives of LeT, named masterminds of Mumbai attacks. Organised the training of the 10 terrorists, also handled them during the attack.

Zarar Shah: Key link between ISI and LeT, probably the communications chief of LeT.

Syed Abdul Rehman: Handles LeT network in Bangladesh, Nepal and south India; actively involved with LeT operatives in Gulf and the US and handled Headley and

Rana: was probably in charge of recce for the Mumbai attacks.

projects worth $10b :Infrastructure works include expressway and deep sea port

Source :http://gulfnews.com

Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, Bangladesh Finance Minister, in Abu Dhabi yesterday. He welcomed bids by UAE companies for the development of infrastructure.
Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, Bangladesh Finance Minister, in Abu Dhabi yesterday. He welcomed bids by UAE companies for the development of infrastructure.

Bangladesh is a contry which is full of natural wealth ,only need to develop the infrustucture .

The Bangladesh Government is seeking international bids for a number of big-ticket infrastructure projects, which could collectively be valued at around $8 to $10 billion.

These include an eight-lane express highway between Dhaka, the country’s political capital, and Chittagong ? the commercial capital and the main trade gateway.

“This could be worth anywhere from $3 billion to $4 billion,” Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, Bangladesh’s Fin-ance Minister told Gulf News in an interview.

Besides, tenders for a large deep-sea port will be invited soon, which could help the economies of India’s seven landlocked states and the two Himalayan states of Nepal and Bhutan.

“But, we have made substantial progress in finalizing the plans to build the largest bridge ? over the river Padma,” he said. “This could cost potentially $2.6 to $2.8 billion. Bids will be invited in a few months.”

The deep-sea port project will be carried out in two phases with the first having seven jetties and the second phase could see nine. This would be the South Asian country’s first sea port, although Chittagong and Mongla ports serve as gateways to its economy.

Dubai’s DP World has expressed an interest in Chittagong Port and subsequent development of the sea port.

Muhith welcomed their intention.

“We welcome bids by the UAE companies. These will be international competitive bids and we will choose the winner on the basis of the merits and pricing.

The country is also fin-alising a public-private partnership for physical infrastructure projects, where foreign developers and contractors could build, operate and transfer roads, highways, bridges, etc. The government could allow them to collect tolls that will help these investors get solid returns.

Power and energy

In addition to this, Bangladesh is seeking massive investment in energy and power sector. The entire country has been divided into 22 energy blocks for exploration of oil and gas.

Bangladesh is known to be gas-rich and power-hungry as it requires massive power supply for economic growth.

Muhith, a long-time bureaucrat and economist-turned-politician, is spearheading the country’s economic growth engine that had remained stagnant for some time.

His government came to power last January with a massive mandate, winning 263 seats in a 300-member legislature with a promise to deliver 3,000 to 4,000 megawatts of power.

“We have already added 900 MW power to the national grid so far,” he said.

“We sought bids for additional 900 megawatt power on rental. However, we have received bids four times higher. Once the pricing is finalized, we could award tenders and the country could see additional 700 MW added to the grid.


“However, in 2010-11, we are going to float tenders for large power plants ? 350 to 500 MW each to raise power output by a few thousand megawatts by 2014,” he said.

“The Bangladesh economy is looking up as we have managed to reduce the impact of the global economic crisis by supporting the local agricultural sector through subsidies and by offering agricultural inputs at a cheaper price and in time to the farmers. As a result, the country has witnessed bumper crops during the first two production seasons.”

As the economic prospects look up, so are investment prospects in the country, he said.

Muhith earlier tabled a record budget with the highest domestic investment in the country’s 38-year history that has been greeted by economists as ambitious.

The government has already spent 10 per cent of the annual development programme in four months or 22 per cent of the country’s revenue – to spur domestic consumption and growth ? a move that could see an upturn in economy.

Forward step- Digital Bangladesh

The world is becoming a Digital Planet. Almost every state is running to become a knowledge based society by 2015. Bangladesh can not remain out of it. We must build a Digital Bangladesh and establish a knowledge based society within 50 years of our independence in 2021. Lets work for this achievement. Lets build Digital Bangladesh.Digital Bangladesh
The world is becoming a Digital Planet. Almost every state is running to become a knowledge based society by 2015. Bangladesh can not remain out of it. We must build a Digital Bangladesh and establish a knowledge based society within 50 years of our independence in 2021. Lets work for this achievement. Lets build Digital Bangladesh.
Promised digital Bangladesh and the young generation Md. Anwarul Kabir
The honeymoon period for the newly installed Government led by Awami League is yet to over. The landslide victory of Awami League in the last election has given the new government of Sheikh Hasina an enormous task of meeting people?s aspirations. Different analyses of the electoral results have revealed that the young generation who consist of more than one third of the voters had indeed brought this overwhelming victory for AL. With many other reasons, implicitly it can be inferred that voters of this generation while exercising their franchise considered party manifestos seriously. Presumably the visionary approach of AL?s manifesto, entitled ?a charter for change? might have allured the young voters much, especially its ?Vision 2021? which envisions a ?digital Bangladesh?.

Let us now explore the buzzword digital Bangladesh. What does it really mean? Moving towards digital Bangladesh does not imply that the urban young groups of the country will be more sophisticated consumers of high-tech devices like computers, digital cameras, latest model mobile sets or camcorders etc. based on high-speed Internet infrastructure and promote the dejuice culture. Rather discarding this superficial notion, we need to consider the term ?digital Bangladesh? objectively.

Broadly speaking, a digital society ensures an ICT driven knowledge-based society where information will be readily available on line and where all possible tasks of the government, semi-government and also private spheres will be processed using the state of the art technology. So, a digital Bangladesh must guarantee efficient and effective use of modern ICT in all spheres of the society with a view to establishing good governance. In other word, making Bangladesh a digital one, we have to establish technology driven e-governance, e-commerce, e-production, e-agriculture, e-health etc. in the society emphasizing the overall development of the common people, the major stakeholders of the country.

Due to globalization, more specifically due to booming of ICT like most of the countries on the globe, Bangladesh has already been connected with the outside world. Yet in the field of ICT, our only grand success lies in Mobile telecommunication which has brought an abrupt change in telecommunication scenario of the country. However, in the other spheres of ICT, our achievement is very insignificant and we are still far away from transforming ourselves into a knowledge-based society.

Building strong ICT infrastructure is the pre-requisite for making Bangladesh a digital one. For this, we need to focus on the following relevant issues assessing the harsh reality that hinders our development in this context.

a) Power deficit: Latest statistics reveal that Bangladesh faces a power deficit of up to 2000 MW against a demand of 5000 MW daily. It may be noted that for proper ICT development an uninterrupted power supply is a must.

b) Network infrastructure: Outside Dhaka, at present a few computer network infrastructures have been developed so far. Apart from some educational institutes outside Dhaka, observation finds that most of the LAN setups are Dhaka centric. This observation reveals the reality of the digital gap even within the country.

c) Use of Internet: For the ICT development Internet users of the country must be increased. In this case our position is the worst one among the South Asian countries. The latest statistics (ITU, 2007) revealed that Internet penetration in our country is only 0.3%. Whereas, in Pakistan and India, it is 7.3% and 5.3% respectively.

d) Under sea submarine cable: Since 2006, Bangladesh has been connected to worldwide Internet Super High Way through an under sea submarine cable. But this single submarine cable frequently faces disruption resulting in slow bandwidth.

e) Network Readiness: Networked Readiness Index (NRI), developed by the University of Harvard, measures the propensity for countries to exploit the opportunities offered by information and communications technology. The NRI seeks to better comprehend the impact of ICT on the competitiveness of nations. The NRI is a composite of three components: the environment for ICT offered by a given country or community, the readiness of the community?s key stakeholders (individuals, businesses, and governments) to use ICT, and finally the usage of ICT amongst these stakeholders. Unfortunately, the latest survey (2006-7) revealed that Bangladesh?s NRI ranking is one of the lowest among the Asian countries.

f) Use of open source software: Many countries (e.g. France and Malaysia) have started to use open source software in ICT development projects for cost effectiveness. Unfortunately, in our ICT development domain the culture of using open source has not yet been introduced.

g) English literacy rate: From different sources, it has been learnt that, English literacy rate in Bangladesh is less than one percent. Whereas, English literacy rates in India and Pakistan are 60% and 20% respectively. There is a strong correlation between English literacy and ICT development in the present context of globalization. In the arena of ICT English has become the Lingua-Franca. On the other hand, we have not localized Bengali in the domain of computing. Hence, English literacy is a must for our ICT development. Unfortunately, in this case our position is the worst in the sub-continent.

Though the above accounts seem to be frustrating one, these can be easily overcome within a reasonable span of time if we can establish good governance in the country. Since independence, Bangladesh has been critically suffering from poor governance. Lack of vision, corruption, lack of transparency, weak coordination, undemocratic decision making were the salient features of our past governments. These can also be marked as the major barrier to the overall progress of Bangladesh. However, the newly installed government which has called for changes, hopefully, will establish much expected good governance to keep up with people?s aspiration.

For making a digital Bangladesh by 2021, the government must address the above stated issues effectively and efficiently in transparent manners. In many cases we need to reformulate our national policy (e.g. education policy, ICT policy) in accordance with the Millennium Development Goals. In reformulating the ICT policy, we will need to take a pragmatic and visionary approach so that it can curb the prevailing digital gap in the society. Moreover, the journey towards a digital Bangladesh needs the incorporation of the technologically solvent innovative younger generation. If the leaders of our country objectively guide this generation, they can do wonder for the nation. After all, the young generation always looks forward and they can help bring about positive changes in the society.

Bangladesh on the way to apply Bangabandhu’s portrait in all bank notes & coins

All new bank notes and coins to be circulated soon in the country will hold the portrait of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

500 tk note with Bangabandhu's portrait

The Bangladesh bank is going to apply portrait of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mijubur Rahman in all bank notes and coins with the?new design by next year.

“Our board of directors has already decided to use Bangabandhu portrait in all bank notes and coins by 2010,” said a senior official of the Bangladesh Bank (BB), the country’s central bank.

He also said the central bank has sent a proposal to the finance ministry in this connection for approval.

The central bank disclosure coincided with final judgment in Bangabandhu murder case by the Supreme Court on Thursday upholding death penalties of 12 ex-army officers given by the High Court.

“The new designs of bank notes and coins have almost been finalized and sent to the authorities concerned for approval,” another BB official said, adding that the central bank will issue work orders to the Security Printing Corporation for taking necessary measures in this connection.

The Bangladesh Bank Governor said every country in the world, including India, the UK and the USA, honoured their respective father of the nation and great leaders by carrying their portraits in currency notes and coins.

“We’re unfortunate not to have the portrait of Bangabandhu on all our notes and coins,” he added.

Dr Atiur said the primary preparations to carry the portrait of Bangabandhu on all our new notes and coins were in progress while a group of note designers, led by eminent artist and designer of many notes and coins of the country, Kayum Chowdhury, was busy designing the notes and coins.

“We’ll go for printing the new notes and coins as soon as the Finance Ministry approves the proposal in this regard,” he said.

He said the existing notes having the portrait of Bangabandhu and the other? notes would also remain in circulation.

Meanwhile, the central bank has issued two new notes of Tk 100 and Tk 500 denominations carrying the portrait of Bangabandhu.

The notes were printed as per the previous designs having the portrait but with the signature of the new Bangladesh Bank Governor, Dr Atiur Rahman.

Bangladesh -U S Relation : greater cooperation between Bangladesh and the USA in the fields of knowledge

How ever- What ever U S A relation is important for our reality and determinining overcome our strategy of growing as a dignified nation.
United States Ambassador in Bangladesh James F Moriarty has called for greater cooperation between Bangladesh and the USA in the fields of knowledge to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
“Against the backdrop of a challenging time for the world scenario; Bangladesh-US relationship has successfully retained its solid ground,” Moriarty said in the city Saturday.

“However, greater cooperation in the fields of knowledge and sharing of ideas can assure a better future for both the countries during the remaining part of the 21st century,” US envoy added.

His views came while addressing an international conference on ‘Development: Tradition, Transition, Transformation” organised at a city hotel.

The Fulbright Association of Bangladesh (FAAB) – a forum Fulbright scholars in the country, organised the conference.

Speaking on the occasion, President of FAAB Hafiz G A Siddiqi said: “Fulbright scholars can contribute immensely to the socio economic development of Bangladesh. However, capacity building is required to properly utilise their knowledge and ideas”.

Fulbright Regional Research Scholar in Bangladesh David Ludden, who presented the keynote speech of the programme, focused on the spatial inequity in Bangladesh as well as in South Asia.

“Spatial inequality begins with spatial inequity”, Ludden, who is a professor of Political Economy and Globalisation at New York University, said.

“The richer section of the society grows at the expense of the poorer segment, both in Bangladesh and around the world, often not knowing that they are doing so,” he added.

He also explained the origin of spatial inequality in Bangladesh in a historical context.

Bangladesh to MDG on universal primary education

Sourcebangladesh primary educationBangladesh is at a critical juncture and facing a difficult and challenging time ahead. Its challenges of development agenda are, indeed, immense. However, in the quest for quick economic growth and development, the country must seek inclusive economic growth. It has to put in more resources for reduction of poverty of millions of people who live under desperate poverty. This would need to create and expand access to opportunities and more investment in health, education and safety net programmes for the poorest. Alongside, the country needs big investment in infrastructures — energy, power generation, roads, railway and ports — to attract further investment and ensure industrial development and employment creation through private sector participation.

A number of systemic problems notwithstanding, Bangladesh is showing promising signs in respect of achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on universal primary education (UPE). The children want to go to schools and the parents prefer sending them to schools; both the government of Bangladesh and non-government organisations (NGOs) have stepped in to fund and support education for the beginners. Now, the challenge is to fit all these into a cohesive structured plan and produce the desired results.

Progress in the primary education sector, over the last few years, has made the MDG on UPE for all by 2015 an attainable goal. One accomplishment is the phenomenal growth in enrolment in a relatively short period of time. Gross and net enrolments in primary schools have risen to 98.8 per cent and 91 per cent respectively (School Survey Report 2007 published by the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education). The ratio between girls and boys in the primary shools, 52:48 in 2007, shows the eradication of gender disparity that existed previously.

Nonetheless, a number of adverse circumstances, which have dented the success story to some extent, call for intervention by the government and other actors of the society for further achievements in this sector.

A community of Purbapara village in South Keraniganj, an outlying suburb, 10 km south of Dhaka, along with a few other localities, was selected for the purpose of a study on MDG issues. Nearly 30,000 people, mostly day labourers, live in the village. Detailed discussions on the subject were held with the teachers, students, drop-outs and parents of the locality. Successes and failures of the primary education system were pointed out during the discussions and some pertinent suggestions were also made:

(a) The drop-out rate has been persistently high, offsetting a considerable part of the gains in enrolments. Many students enter the schools, but not all stick till grade V. “Ensuring that all boys and girls complete their primary education remains a formidable task because of the prevailing excessive drop-out rate”, says Sultana Razia, the headmistress of Nayashubhadya Government Primary School in the Purbapara village. She recollects only ten years back the percentage of school-going children was barely over 50 per cent in the area. But, since then, things have dramatically changed and gender discrimination is rarely visible in schools. She points out nearly 90 per cent children of Chunkutia community now get enrolled in primary schools. However, many of them, belonging to different classes, drop out gradually before they complete primary schooling. About 800 students get admitted every year in Class I in her school but the number stands at 400-300 in class four and declines further to less than 100 in class V. The education system needs constant review, continued support and interventions from the government and its development partners to enable the stakeholders to overcome the hurdles getting in the way of meeting the MDG by 2015, the headmistress suggests.

(b) Child labour is still widespread. This deproves the children of their inherent right to education. Thus, the primary education suffers a setback and the schools are compelled to run with less number of students than originally planned. This causes a huge drain of scarce resources devoted to the educational infrastructure which a low-income country like Bangladesh can ill afford. The law to prevent child labour should be strictly observed.

Betari, 20, who studies at a private university in Dhaka, expresses the view that some guardians are either unaware or have doubts about the true role of education. Others, shackled in chronic poverty, are forced to send their children to work instead of to schools. Child marriage also brings an abrupt end to the academic career of many girl students, Betari adds.

(c) Many students in the village come to schools underfed or unfed. Hunger makes it hard for the children to concentrate on their studies and `digest’ the lessons taught. Nasima, a teacher of the Government Primary School in Chunkutia says, “What will the child learn and how will it pay attention to lessons on an empty stomach? I, sometimes, share my tiffin with a child.” Providing tiffin to the students as an incentive, in the form of nutritious biscuits or other food, can work in two ways – first, to bring them to school and secondly, to keep them alert and interested in the lessons. According to the Community and Media Research Institute (CAMRI), the School Tiffin Programme of the government, with support from the World Food Programme (WFP), covers only one per cent of the total primary school students in the country. So school-feeding programmes should be expanded, if necessary, with the support of international organisations, she stresses.

(d) Under the existing scheme, 40 students out of every 100 are awarded stipends from the government. These are handed out on ‘first come first serve’ basis. They get the stipends from class one to class five. As a result, the remaining 60 students are left in the lurch and lose the motivation for going to schools. Out of frustration, many of them leave schools and look for work that pays. Had there been a provision for awarding stipends based on merit, the scenario would have been different. Textbooks (three new and three used ones) are also distributed among the pupils free of cost by the government but only to 60 per cent of the primary schools, according to CAMRI. NGOs are also joining this programme. But, providing only textbooks may not draw enough children to schools and keep them there. Students should also be supplied with stationery items like exercise books (papers), pens, pencils, etc. either for free or at subsidised prices as an added incentive.

(e) School curricula should be overhauled and brought up to date. The lessons should be taught in a comprehensible manner to arouse students’ interest and curiosity. Students feel teachers should conduct classes in a student-friendly environment. The traditional and conservative teaching methods should be abandoned in favour of modern and innovative practices that make learning process a satisfying and rewarding experience instead of a dull and often stressful exercise.

(f) The teacher-student relationship occasionally leaves much to be desired. It is understandable that the attitude of the teachers toward the students should be sympathetic and students should also show due respect to the teachers. The students of the school, we visited, want their teachers to be gentle and kind. They complained about the rude behaviour of the teachers to them and accused some teachers of making verbal abuse that compel aggrieved students to leave the school in protest. While rudeness and abuse are surely undesirable, there is no report of any teacher beating the students with cane in the school, which seems to have become a rare practice throughout Bangladesh. The teachers of the school, however, deny any rudeness and cruelty to the students.

(g) Teachers are not paid well enough to make both ends meet. The teachers need to be paid adequately to enable them to maintain themselves and their families comfortably. The teachers have also to be oriented and trained for effectively and successfully imparting education to the children. Teachers’ training that aims at building their capacity and upgrading their skills, should be an ongoing process.

(h) At grade five, the children are too young to make their own choices. Once they are out of the school, the urge to acquire knowledge and skills or to continue studies is dissipated. Moreover, five years of study is considered inadequate for the children to master the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic (3Rs) and can hardly be useful for the rest of their lives. In addition, perfunctory learning cannot be applied in later life as a basis for skill development. Since prosecuting higher studies by the pupils requires a good deal of money, discontinuation of the study becomes the only option. As a solution, the primary segment from classes one to five needs to be extended to class eight. With eight years of the curricula, pupils can better prepare themselves to face the realities of life and the challenges of the world around them.

(i) Betari claims that the number of schools and teachers in comparison to the population in most of the areas in Bangladesh is insufficient. Chunkutia has only two primary schools, one, run by the government, has 1600 pupils with 21 teachers and the other, operated by BRAC, has 400 pupils with 16 teachers. The teacher-pupil ratio being 1 teacher for every 124 pupils and 1 teacher for every 25 pupils respectively.

Primary School Registration Rules provides that at least one primary school should be established in every village with a population of at least 2000. But there are some 2000 villages without a single school with a population more than 2000. There are still nearly 14,000 villages in the country where there is no school at all, according to CAMRI, a research organisation.Therefore, in order to ensure universal primary education by 2015, many more schools have to be established. Long distance of the schools from their homes also discourages the students from going to schools.

(j) Ensuring security of the girls from being teased, pestered or molested by boys on their way to and back from school may prove to be difficult. Security can come from community education and peer counseling aiming at fostering fellowship and respect.

(k) Besides free primary education for all, girl students are getting an additional benefit of free education up to the higher secondary education level. These facilities sometimes go abegging. It is imperative that the opportunities, which are provided for all, must be exploited effectively. The government should make it mandatory for the guardians to send their children to schools to make the optimum use of all the benefits awaiting for them.

Let us now look at some of the positive aspects of primary education that hold out the prospects of attaining the MDG in this sector:

1. There is a mother, a vegetable seller in the local market, who lives in the shanties in the railway colony in Narayanganj. She earns money with the main objective of sending her children to school. This change in attitude springs largely from the deepening awareness among the people about the crucial need of primary education in life. The credit for this goes to th massive and sustained campaigns on the issue carried out by the government, NGOs and international organisations. Teachers and the community workers are also playing a significant part by visiting the houses of students and persuading guardians to send their kids to schools. Mass media has also been instrumental in bringing about behavioural changes among the ordinary people that favour socio-economic growth. Development of infrastructures, both the schools and the areas concerned, is another factor contributing to the spread of primary eduction.

The uneducated mothers, in the communities visited, are optimistic that Bangladesh will be able to achieve the goal in primary education, because most of the people are now convinced that education can change their lives for the better. They strongly believe that to enter into any profession, education is an indispensable tool.

2. It was observed at Chunkutia community in Keraniganj that the publicity campaigns in favour of prmary education have been very effective. But most of the people in that community are locked in a desperate battle against poverty, hunger and disease. They are genuinely interested in getting primary education for their offspring at whatever cost.

In this connection, the case of Sitara Begum can be cited. She is 35 years of age, a household worker and a mother of two sons and a daughter. She lost her husband eight years ago. Her elder son has passed SSC (Secondary School Certificate) this year and the second son is studying in class five and the daughter, in class two. Sitara said she was persuaded by educated people she worked for and her neighbours to send her children to the school. Sitara believes that though she has been going through an ordeal to maintain her four-member family, her children will not lead a miserable life like hers as she is making them educated.

3. The community people informed that they have heard from NGO workers, operating in their area, about the MDGs — one of which is ensuring primary education for every child of the country by 2015. The message has been driven to the doors of the people that knowledge is the power and a passport to a better life. The media and community discussions have contributed to imprinting this idea on them.

4. In order to make primary education accessible to all children of the country by the deadline, it will be necessary to set up schools in the villages where there is none, with trained and motivated teachers. This is not an impossible target. For a developing country like Bangladesh where the economy is yet to take off and the educational infrastructures are inadequate, night schools with proper logistics and management may offer a realistic solution.

The path ahead is difficult. But with the firm resolve and the will of the policy and decision makers to act promptly, it will be possible to eventually reach the goal of universal primary education for all by 2015. For this public opinion for MDGs should be mobilised and all the stakeholders should be involved.

The article is based on one of a series of community-centered surveys on selected MDG issues under a UNESCO/AMIC project. The writer is the Chairman of UNB