Demands of a quota system reform and an increase of the maximum recruitment age for government jobs to 35 years have gone viral on social media over the last couple of weeks.
Thousands of social media activists have been posting and writing comments, especially on Facebook, to have their demands fulfilled.
They particularly stressed on the need to modernize the quota system as Bangladesh’s professional sectors and socio-economic conditions have witnessed significant changes since the system was instated.
“Amending the quota system is essential for fulfilling the dreams of hardworking people,” posted one user.
Only 44% of government jobs are available to students while 56% are under the quota system. As a result, students urged Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to reform the quota system. Moreover, as though to add insult to injury many positions in different departments of the government are vacant because no suitable candidates were found under the quota system, despite the fact that meritorious applicants are available. If the latter were given a chance they could work for the benefit of the country.
“Detain me, shoot me, or reform the quota system!” a Dhaka University student wrote on his Facebook page.
Hasan Al Mamun, convenor of Bangladesh Shadharon Chhatra Odhikar Shongrokkhon Parishad told Dhaka Tribune: “We will organize programs in colleges and universities across the country protesting the police’s attacks on student protesters and the false cases they filed against them.”
He also said: “Our five demands are: a 10% quota instead of the existing 56%, filling vacant positions in departments with meritorious applicants if candidates are not found from the quota system, no special recruitment examination for quota applicants, a unified age limit for all applicants of government jobs, and no availing quota entry into government jobs more than once.”
Hasan also demanded the implementation of Clauses 1 and 2 of Article 29 of the constitution and stop discrimination in the recruitment process.
According to government sources, under the quota system 30% of jobs are reserved for descendants of freedom fighters, 10% for people of the zilla, 10% for women, 5% for ethnic minorities, and 1% for the physically challenged.
First established by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1972, the quota system was disabled in 1975 after Bangabandhu’s assassination. For the next two decades there was no quota system even for freedom fighters before Shiekh Hasina re-established it after coming to power in 1996.
People making this demand have requested the government to increase the maximum age up to 35 from the existing 30 years following academic session lags and increased average life expectancy.
Protesters mentioned that when the average life expectancy was 45 years, the maximum age for government jobs was 27 and when life expectancy was 50, maximum age was 30; so now that the average life expectancy is 72, the maximum age should also be raised.
91.11% voted “Yes” while 8.45% voted “No” with 0.44% choosing not to comment on the question of whether the maximum age for government jobs should be increased to 35, according to an online survey by Daily Prothom Alo.
The survey mentioned that 19,846 voters participated in the vote. Of them, 14,544 were online voters and 5,302 participated by SMS.
Sanjoy Das, a protester said: “We will rally in front of the National Press Club at 11am on March 24 along with protests in colleges and universities across the country condemning the police attack on students while they were on their way to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to submit a memorandum on March 10.”The government must fulfil our demand, or we will continue our protests. Why should we be deprived of our rights?” he added. Citing examples of countries like Russia, Hong Kong, South Korea, and the UK, he added that qualified people can get jobs even one day before retirement age in such countries.