Violence in campuses and closure of educational institutions
While government ministers are talking about revamping the education system, spreading literacy and education and making a "digital" Bangladesh, every other day one or the other public college or university is closing down because of violence initiated by rival groups of students engaged not in getting an education but in politics. If all or even some of the public colleges and universities are closing down, who is going to take or get the education that ministers are so vociferously talking about?
Tough talks by no other person than the Prime Minister are not backed up by tough actions and the only solution that administrators of public educational institutions have found out to tackle campus violence is to close down, "sine die", the affected institution. Such closures damage the prospects of education for the greater body of students who abhor politics and have nothing to do with conflicts and violence, other than being the victims. As a matter of fact, all public educational institutions have been for long taken hostage by a small group of people belonging to rival political parties who consider these educational institutions as places of business and so, they feel the need to establish their dominance and monopoly of that "business". The problem therefore, is not of mere law and order as the AL government is wont to look at it but lies deep-rooted in the economic, social and political culture of our nation.�
Most young people who take admissions in public educational institutions come from the middle or lower middle classes, whose parents or guardians cannot afford sending them to private colleges or universities. Education is costly even in public institutions and parents or guardians have to foot the bill for enrolment, for books, for food and lodgings and for travel, putting pressure on the family finances over extended periods of time; prospects of employment after education are also slim and so as soon as young people land up in colleges or universities they are under both physical and psychological pressures. Most young people adjust to this state of affairs and make do with whatever they have, but some gravitate to "politics" which promise them a world of ease and "easy money" earned through all sorts of criminal activities. Student wings of major political parties, on the look out for "activists", find easy recruits among the motley mass of young people crowding into public colleges and universities. Since "politics" provides a short-cut to money, influence and power, the more desperate of these young people opt for this short-cut rather than slogging through an uncertain education with uncertain prospects of gainful employment.�
So, the roots of conflict and violence in public educational institutions lie in how young people perceive and do "politics". The major political parties such as the AL and BNP reinforce those perceptions by claiming that student politics are essential for creating future political leaderships, entirely overlooking the prevailing economic, social and political conditions of the country which do not permit this linkage between politics and education. The solution lies in entirely delinking politics from education by disbanding all student fronts; otherwise we will have neither politics nor education nor yet "educated politics".