“We Shall Overcome”, the Prelude song of the schools reopening
Tabassum Tahmina Shagufta Hussein/ International Fellow 2020 of The International Human Rights Arts Festival(IHRAF). She is the Bangla Translator for Point -Edition, an initiative of ITHACA Foundation, Spain and a contributor of Different Truths Publication, India
The government has decided to reopen schools and colleges on March 30, says Education Minister Dipu Moni on February 27, 2021.
She announced the media after an inter-ministerial meeting on Saturday. Educational institutions have remained closed since March last year after the coronavirus pandemic unfolded. Finally, the long-expected decision came. But prior to this decision, the Jahangir Nagar University incident is utterly unanticipated and unsolicited.A group of misguided students spreading the conspiracy theory that universities are closed because the government doesn’t want these to be opened as these might lead to protest. Such anillogical theory indeed! Being a democratic country, there has been protesting, processions in a democratic way before the pandemic in Bangladesh. Government don’t need any excuse to hinder protestsuch as the pandemic.
But if the government opens the universities as per the students’ demand and then if there is the risk of infections, who will take the responsibility? That’s why the government needs to ensure the proper safety procedures before reopening the universities. Can these students who are demanding to open universities cite an example of any university in the world which is currently open?Public and private universities will resume on May 24 and residential halls will be reopened on May 17. Online classes will continue but no examination will be held before the reopening of the universities.
There are two kinds of opinion regarding the opening of the schools. One group is who belongs to the Urban class in the main cities. The parents of these children can provide all kinds of online facilities. The other group is less privileged and find difficulties to provide online facilities, and most don’t live in the major cities. In this group, urban class parents have difficulties controlling and monitoring their children’s activities, social media, online game addiction, and many traps set by social media pages and contacts. The interesting thing is both groups of parents have been seen violating the minimum pre-caution of COVID-19. Reports show parents with children flocking to spend the vacation in Cox’s Bazar during consecutive holidays from 19 to 21 February 2021. There were no masks and no social distancing during these holidays. Indeed, we have the vaccination, but the government hasn’t declared Bangladesh a COVID-19 country yet. We should be proud that Bangladesh is giving vaccination for free and ensuring the safety of the citizens. Honourable Prime Minister, on 27 February 2021 has declared that Bangladesh plans to import another 30 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, as the government aims to inoculate more people in its pandemic battle.
The death toll is five on 27 February 2021 at the time of writing this perspective. But as a pre-caution government has not given a green signal to hold EKUSHE BOIMELA in February. Government is nor encouraging mass gatherings like Falguni Utshob and other public congregations as a chariness.
If we notice a public reaction trend, we will find that a certain number of publics are critical of government action without knowing, realizing or even understanding the facts and information.
There are invested groups at work to spread rumours, conspiracy theories and propaganda. Their agenda is to drive away from the attention of Bangladesh’s success, especially the final endorsement from the UN Committee for Development Policy on Bangladesh’s graduation from the LDC category. Bangladesh received the United Nations’ final recommendation to move from a least developed country to a developing country. That means Bangladesh will formally graduate to the developing nation category in 2026. So, these invested groups are spreading a plethora of rumours, conspiracy theories and propaganda. And some people are fanning the flames of these so-called rumours, conspiracy theories and propaganda. Social media has become the epicentre of these activities. As a result, we can see a certain number of populaces are critical of government action without understanding the facts and data. As parents, it is our vital duty to stay away from these propagandas and notice some facts and information:
1. The Bangladesh government has been one of the most children caring government by not opening schools for a year where some Western countries opened their schools, not paying heed to Health Specialists and Advisors’ bits of advice.
2. The government is successfully operating a vaccination program, and they have required scientific data and information. Even the government has taken the initiative to give vaccination by May 17, 2021, to students living in the residential halls. Is there any country that we know of are doing such for the students?
3. The government has taken the initiative to inoculate teachers and officials of educational institutions on a priority basis.About 150,000 primary school teachers have been vaccinated already at the time of writing this perspective.
4. The ministry has prepared a health safety guideline for the schools to follow, including preparing a budget for buying disinfectants, creating a routine for daily cleaning, orienting the cleaning crew for cleaning and disinfection, among other directives.
5. The guidelines instructed educational institutions to ensure at least three feet of space between seats for students and masks’ mandatory use.
6. The guidelines also suggested dividing students of each class into shifts to ensure social distancing and directed to ensure distance learning for those who are unwilling to attend classes physically.
7. The temperatures of students would be checked before they enter the campus.
8. These guidelines were published on January 23, 2021. So, the educational institutions have enough time to prepare the premises.
9. Students of 5th, 10th, and 12th grades will have classes every day, while the rest of the grades will have classes one day a week. The number of classes per week will be increased gradually and will return to normal in phases.
10. If any educational institution needs to be renovated, it will be repaired in collaboration with the ministry and the local administration.
11. A 60-day syllabus for the SSC and an 80-day syllabus for HSC have been prepared.
So far, the Bangladesh government has shown limitless patience to those who are, on the one hand, very good at violating the pre-caution of COVID-19 and, on the other hand, are quite active in voicing their opinions which are not facts and information based but only speculations. These people are quite vigorous to make a storm in the teacups no matter what decision the government has taken.
It is high time to change our nature and mind set up. Some propaganda spreading online, and digital platforms are spreading propaganda so that it has blinded our rational thinking.
These people have been fed with so many propagandas that they even see a natural incident as an unnatural one.
We have seen so far, many voices in favour of reopening the schools. We will likely be seeing opposing voices about the reopening of the schools. It is in our children’s best interest to abide by the government decision regarding school opening.
Because government has facts, Data, information, health specialist, advisors and guidelines which are not accessible or understandable to the commoners.Parents or students can raise their apprehensions civilly if they face any issue after opening the schools.
The repetition or occurrence of such Jahangir Nagar University incidents is not acceptable by any means. Let us not fool ourselves by rumours and negative speculations. Let the government do their job. At the same time, before raising any concern, we should look at ourselves in the mirrors. Metaphorically speaking, the mirror has two faces.
One face concerns the parents’ faces, and the other face is the same parents violating each mandatory minimum COVID-19 pre-caution. We need to change ourselves so that our children can learn minimum pre-cautions from us. And we have a month for the mental and physical preparation.
Let us not engulfed by fears of propaganda but let be “We Shall Overcome”, the song of both parents and children before reopeningof the schools and on the day of 30 March 2021 with the hope of a new