The majority of primary schools in Sreemangal, Moulvibazar do not have a Shaheed Minar 66 years after the Language Movement, depriving their students of the opportunity to pay their respects to the language martyrs on national days.
No one at the Sreemangal upazila administration office was able to explain why it is so.
However, teachers and students are resorting to building Shaheed Minars out of bamboo to commemorate Language Martyrs' Day.
West Sreemangal Government Primary School and the Government Primary School of Lalbagh both built makeshift bamboo Shaheed Minars upon which students lay flowers and wreaths.
[caption id="attachment_248281" align="alignright" width="249"]
Students of Government Primary School of Lalbagh lay floral wreaths on the bamboo-made makeshift Shaheed Minar, on the occasion of Ekushey February on Wednesday, February 21, 2018 Dhaka Tribune
Headmistress Shuborna Chakraborty, assistant teachers Rupali Rani Paul, Nithendra Ray, Lovey Ray, Shireen Akhtar, Shopna Deb, and Sriti Rani Sen of the Government Primary School of Lalbagh built the monument along with the students.
A student of Class V at West Sreemangal Government Primary School said: “This is the first time students and teachers have built a Shaheed Minar to celebrate the Language Martyrs' Day together. Since we do not have a Shaheed Minar nearby, we decided to build one ourselves.”
Several students echoed his statement.
The students and teachers also said because of the lack of a monument, a lot of students and people are unable to pay their respects to the martyrs.
Headmistress Shuborna Chakraborty said: “Students have been asking for a monument for years, but without the necessary funds, we could not build one. Two years ago, we would draw the Shaheed Minar on a wall and leave floral tributes there.
Md Azam Ali, president of the school management committee, said: “After I was elected, I have brought about many different changes to the school while bearing the expenses myself. I even helped establish a source of clean drinking water as well as running water in the toilets, which were unavailable before. Even without any government assistance, I will collect funds from wealthy locals to build our own Shaheed Minar.”
He said the school had seven teachers and 350 students.
Meanwhile, Kamalendu Deb, headmaster of West Sreemangal Government Primary School, said: “We have seven teachers and 485 students. When the authorities did not listen to us despite repeated requests, we had teachers and students work together to build our own monument on February 20. We then celebrated February 21 by placing floral wreaths.”
Md Saiful Islam, primary education officer of Sreemangal upazila, said: “Most of the educational institutes in the upazila do not have a Shaheed Minar because there is no government funding for it, so it is up to the school authorities or local influential people to manage the matter. However, this year Union Parishad chairpersons of three different regions helped build Shaheed Minars in their respective unions. Hopefully others will follow suit.”