14 Dec 2017, Thursday

A silent protest speaks volumes

By Dwoha Chowdhury, The Daily Star

Published : 2017-12-01 17:58:34

Updated : 2017-12-03 17:14:20

As soon as the clock struck nine, Malek Hossain Pir sat on the balcony in front of the deputy commissioner's office in Sylhet's Sunamganj yesterday morning.

An hour went by. The freedom fighter did not say anything. He just sat there.

The 63-year-old was protesting against the ongoing trend of “coaching business” in the education system, in his own unique way.

Concerned citizens have long been blaming the teachers' involvement in coaching businesses for the downward trend in the quality of education.

Many allege that instead of giving lessons at educational institutions, some of the teachers prefer tutoring their students privately for a hefty income.

When asked, Malek said rather than taking classes at schools and colleges, teachers are keen on tutoring students at home and coaching centres.

He said he also had a personal reason behind the protest. His daughter, a second-year student of botany at Sunamganj Government College, had an English exam on Wednesday. “When I asked her how the exam was, she said she did not do well. She said they did not have a single class before the exam as teachers were busy tutoring privately.”

“How could she prepare for the exam then?” he asked. “Most importantly, how would she learn if no classes are being taken?”

“I run my family with the allowance I get as a freedom fighter. I cannot afford to pay for her private tuitions,” Malek said. He said he was not only protesting against the culture of coaching business, which had become a serious issue over the years, but also against the shortage of teachers.

Contacted, Prof Abdus Sattar, principal of the college, said there is no shortage of teachers in the college and classes are being taken regularly.

“But we do have a crisis of classrooms, for which we cannot follow the class routine properly.”

Regarding the coaching business, he said, “As per the government rule, teachers are not allowed to do so. But, if a teacher is involved in providing private tuition to students, it is hard for us to monitor that. We will look into the issue.”

Meanwhile, a photo of Malek sitting in front of the office went viral on social media.

He sat there for around two hours. Later, he ended his sit-in protest after Sabirul Islam, deputy commissioner of Sunamganj, assured him of looking into the matter.

“The freedom fighter protested for a good cause. It should be taken under serious consideration,” said the DC.

“I assured him of taking necessary steps to inform the ministry concerned regarding the issue. He said he will file a written complaint in this regard on Sunday,” he added.

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