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Education not for the culture of intolerance

24 November 2022
Education not for the culture of intolerance

Masum Billah :
The Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) and equivalent examinations begun from 06 November this year has seen a peculiar kind of creativity the question setters have exhibited making us astonished that how a public examination question can be such type escaping many eyes. This year the biggest problem appeared on the very first day of the examination with a question that contains a very sensitive issue which in no way should be included in any examination let alone public examination meaning how so inexperienced teacher can be given such a big responsibility which equals to the work of justice. The contents of the question tend to hurt religious sentiment leading to spread unrest in the society and have raised several questions in the minds of people.
Educationists and thinkers have said that this is tantamount to insinuate religious extremism.  Bengali, Drama, Sirajuddoula number 11 accommodates several questions regarding religion which have been made on the basis of 'stem'. It goes like this - Nepal and Gopal are two brothers. They have land dispute between the two brothers for long. Nobody could settle the issue even if several judges were done. Nobody is ready to give any scope to each other. Now, case of land dispute has gone in the court. Nepal has sold a portion of their land to a Muslim named Abdul to give a lesson to his elder brother. Abdul started living there permanently and slaughter 'cow' before his house in every Eid-Ul-Azha. It breaks the mind of Nepal and he leaves home for India with his family leaving behind his property.  Now questions are like this-(a) Which country Mirjafar comes to India from? (b)  Explain ` when the inmates of a house become traitor then everything can be done by the people of outside world.  (c) Compare the character of Nepal with that of Mirjafar of Sirajuddoula drama. (d) Inviting crocodiles by excavating a canal 'is equally applicable in terms of Sirajuddoula drama and the stem-appreciate critically.
Here several points have come up for discussion. Firstly, it has been a serious violation of the fact that no religious or any sensitive issue must be set in any sort of examination, let alone in the public examination. Secondly, what kind of teachers prepares board questions has become quite exposed before the nation. Thirdly, the status of creative question has again proved to be very poor though it was introduced more than a decade. Fourthly, this question is not for the primary or simple secondary level, rather for intermediate students that necessarily tell that a college teacher has made it and the question is for Dhaka Board, the mother board. Such an important question has been prepared by a teacher who does not have minimum idea about making questions for public examination that has further says the indifference of the board authorities regarding  making quality questions. Usually, a question is selected from a series of sets prepared by different teachers. Then another group or a single teacher moderates the question who has also missed the point. Utter indifference to education has further come before us when we see none took it seriously or the steps to make board questions were not followed properly. When a teacher is ignorant of the fact, why he has been given such a big responsibility?
The Dhaka Board Bengali Question has received various comments from multiple corners. Some have said, ` though the objective of education is to maintain secularism and religious love and coexistence, the question of Dhaka Board diffuses different scent." Actually, the practical scenario is not that. The religious festivals of different religions see people throng there irrespective of their religious beliefs and that is the tradition for long. All these have been questioned by the question of Dhaka Board.  How a college teacher sensitizes such type of issue in the question makes us astonished. Educationist Dr. Mohammad Kaikobad says, `It is not right at all to bring religion face to face that tends to create unrest situation in the country.' And to speak the truth, nobody has the right to do it. Education will rather work for enhancing restraint. It calls for judicious thoughts and honest ideas to prepare a question for public examination. The chairman of Dhaka Board and inter-education board coordinator says, ` question setters are given written direction how to make a question avoiding such type of sensible issues. They are given orientation as well. We cannot see the question. However, how such type of question has been developed will be looked into.'' This does not seem to be very convincing response.  
So, let us practice the culture of love and humanity, not difference and extremism. Those who do it must have some ulterior motif that must be shunned by the sensible human beings. That is education.

(The writer is President, English Teachers' Association of Bangladesh).

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