Edu Min's Plan to Keep Schools Open On Saturdays Sparks Controversy

Desk Report

Published: 28 Mar 2024, 01:21 pm

Representational Image

Representational Image

´╗┐In Bangladesh, Friday and Saturday are weekly holidays. However, Education Minister Mohibul Hassan Chowdhury Nowfel has announced plans to keep schools open every Saturday in the future. Teachers' associations have threatened to protest against this decision if necessary.

Last year, a decision was made by the Ministry of Education to keep schools open a few days before Ramadan. However, this decision was opposed by some. Eventually, the matter reached the court. Advocate Elias Ali Mondal filed a writ petition, initially stalling the High Court's decision to keep schools open.

Later, on the first day of Ramadan, the Appellate Division of the High Court suspended the order to keep schools open. During Ramadan, it was announced that classes would continue in both government and private secondary schools for 15 days.

On the other hand, it was stated that primary schools would continue classes for the first 10 days of Ramadan. However, schools were closed during Ramadan in previous years.

On March 26, during the Independence Day ceremony, Education Minister Mahibul Hassan Chowdhury Noufel stated, "There has been various propaganda and opposition regarding keeping schools open during Ramadan. Since this issue has arisen this year, we will try to figure out how to incorporate it into the framework. There are 52 Saturdays in a year, and we can consider keeping schools open on some of them during Ramadan to resolve the current debate and avoid unnecessary controversy."

Threat of Protest

This plan by the Education Minister has been criticized by teacher leaders. The President of the Bangladesh Teachers' Association, M. Salim Bhuiyan, stated, "We do not agree with any decision to keep educational institutions open on Saturdays. We will provide a protest schedule. Teachers will take to the streets against this decision."

Salim Bhuiyan further said, "By becoming an appointed minister in an unelected government, he (the Education Minister) has said that. Government holidays are Friday and Saturday, two days. And he will keep educational institutions open on Saturdays. I refute his statement. If schools are kept open on Saturdays, the six lakh teachers, their families, and students and parents will be affected. Two conflicting laws cannot operate in one country."

The President of the Primary School Assistant Teachers' Association, Mohammad Shamsuddin Masud, said, "Two days off per week is a national decision. It is the Prime Minister's decision. The Education Minister cannot cancel Saturday holidays. We do not accept this. I think the Education Minister has expressed his own thoughts."

Regarding the quality of education and the concerns of students, parents have raised questions. Jasmine Lipi, a resident of Mirpur, said, "We were under immense mental pressure last time. We could not understand what would happen. Even on the first day of Ramadan, I did not know whether the school would be open or closed. This cannot continue. No one thinks about education."

Jasmine Lipi continued, "Now I hear that schools will be open on Saturdays. Is this reasonable? I am a working woman. I have a lot of personal work on my day off. And everyone is used to having two days off. Everything will be closed, but schools will be open. What kind of situation is this?"

Another parent, Shakil Ahmed, said, "Actually, the question of keeping schools closed during Ramadan has arisen due to the severe traffic congestion in Dhaka. Traffic congestion increases during Ramadan. We have conducted classes during Ramadan, we have held exams. Even now, colleges and universities are open. I think some people are speaking out of religious sentiment."

"Again, if schools are kept open on Saturdays, it will be another wrong decision. Because the country follows one rule, and schools will follow another, which should not happen," said Shakil Ahmed.

The President of the Bangladesh Parents' Forum, Ziaul Kabir Dulu, said, "If Saturday holidays are canceled, everyone will have a plan for their day off. Parents will not be able to use their day off for any work."

In response to a question, Ziaul Kabir Dulu said, "Those who have demanded to keep schools closed during Ramadan may have different motives, but the Ministry of Education is responsible for that. Because the calendar for educational institutions will be for the whole year. Schools will be open and closed accordingly. Why create controversy in the middle of the year? It's due to the lack of planning regarding education."

Mohammad Mojibur Rahman, Associate Professor at the Institute of Education and Research at Dhaka University, said, "There is no proper plan regarding education here. There is no far-reaching thinking. No one thinks about education. It doesn't create such a crisis when everything is ad hoc. So when something comes to mind, it's said."

Regarding education, Mohammad Kaykobad, a teacher, said, "Actually, there is no correct plan regarding education here. There is no far-reaching thinking. No one thinks about education."

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