Ashraf’s Column

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

How old should a student leader be?

Very recently BNP Chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia, I am sure after very serious considerations, has appointed the topmost leaders of the student front of her party Chhatra Dal. About half of these newly appointed Chatra Dal leaders are in their mid 40s and the remaining are in their late 30s. All of them finished their normal education career long ago in mid 1990s. Thanks God, the newspapers have not published their CV. Had it been so, people could know how bright they were in their academic life. As students, one may assume, these ‘Adu Bhais’ must have been very poor. Most of these student leaders are married and some of them are already fathers. Almost all of them are engaged in business. Many of them are known to be involved in tenderbazi (forcibly capturing contracts for construction work and for supply of stores), chandabazi (extortion) and bhortibazi (getting students of lower merit admitted into educational institutions). It is generally believed that it is these so called student leaders who are responsible for all the violence and terrorism in the campus and the session jams. The leaders of the AL’s student front Chhatra League are also the same. If these are the qualities and activities of our present student leaders what the ordinary young students are going to learn from them. If a big political party like the BNP, or the AL, has to rely on these ‘uncles’ to lead their student fronts people can justifiable doubt the sincerity of these parties. In the last general election, it was observed, the superannuated student leaders of all the major political parties had almost no role to play in favor of their masters. As far as local politics is concerned these Buro Khokas (old boys) had lost their appeal and influence long ago. Our people do not take them seriously as they used to do before the liberation in 1971. It is not understandable why our major political parties can still not get rid of this nuisance.
Our public universities, unfortunately, have been breeding, harboring and patronizing the ‘Adu Bhais’ at the cost of the poor tax payer’s money under the cover of some rules which are certainly anti people. Philosophically speaking, we all remain students till our death. Any one may be a student at any age by getting himself/herself admitted into a faculty or institute in an M. Phil or a Ph. D program by simply paying the required fees. If nothing like this is possible one may get admission into a LL. B program in any law college and wear the tag of a student at any age. Well, there cannot be any objection to anyone’s sincere desire to acquire knowledge in any subject by enrolling oneself as a student at any age. But it is surely objectionable if one remains a student at the age of 44 or 38 with ulterior motive of becoming a student leader to mislead the students and ruin their career.
Normally a child in our society goes to the school at the age of 6. On the average s/he needs 17 (12+5) years to finish his/her normal academic career to get a post graduate degree in a non technical subject, or a graduate degree in medicine or engineering. By the time s/he is 23 years old s/he should finish her normal academic career. In our context we may add another 2 years to it. There is no reason for someone to remain a regular student beyond the age of 25. Let students who are under 25 lead our students in their curricular and co curricular activities, and act as collective bargaining agents for the welfare of the students. Anybody who becomes a student after the age of 25 must not be treated as a regular student. S/he must be an irregular or special student, if at all s/he remains a student. The universities must make rules not to provide any tuition, food and lodging to such irregular and special students at subsidized cost, as it is given to the regular students. They must be made to pay the actual cost. Except for academic, research, and sports organizations these irregular and special students must not be allowed to be members of students’ unions, or other students’ organizations.
As per the RPO no political party can have its student organ. Even then, it is not understandable, how are the political parties still openly maintaining and patronizing their student organs ? The Election Commission must take necessary actions to stop this unholy practice. A National Education Commission is now working. It is hoped that the education commission will come out with recommendations to save the nation from this malady. How long should our innocent regular students suffer in the hands of present ‘Adu Bhai’ leaders ?

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