Only 242 educational institutes, above primary level, have a Shaheed Minar on their premises
It has been 67 years since the 1952 Language Movement that paved the way for Bangladesh’s Liberation War.
Despite the national and international significance of this movement, about 58% of educational institutions in Satkhira district do not have a Shaheed Minar on their premises; this is depriving the district’s students of the opportunity to pay tribute to the bravest souls of Bangladesh and Bangla language.
Addressing the current situation, Sumaiya Sultana—a student of D. B. Secondary Girls School—expressing deep sorrow and a great sense of patriotism said: "We do not have a permanent Shaheed Minar. However, on International Mother Language Day, our school administration builds a temporary memorial so that we can lay a wreath and pay our respects to the brave sons of our land, our country."
"We build our own Shaheed Minar. We collect flowers, then make garlands and flower bouquets to put on the memorial, remembering and honoring the language martyrs. But, we do not have a permanent Shaheed Minar," said another student of the same school named Halima Khatun.
Echoing this, Zakia Sultana, Chaiti Debnath, and Jannatul Ferdous Mim—all students of the D. B. Secondary Girls School in Satkhira—said the fact that they do not have a permanent Shaheed Minar is a very big issue which needs to be addressed as soon as possible as they keep on feeling and nurturing the emotions and history of our 1952 Language Movement while " Amar Bhaier Rokte Rangano Ekushe February...Ami Ki Bhulite Pari" is in the deepest corner of their hearts.
According to the District Education Office sources, there are 575, not primary, educational institutions in the Satkhira district; of which 333 institutions do not have a Shaheed Minar.
Among those: 80 are in Satkhira Sadar upazila, 14 in Debhata, 32 in Ashashuni, 36 in Kaliganj, 61 in Shyamnagar, 30 in Tala, and 80 are in Kolaroar.
These statistics are enough to reflect the vulnerable and dismal state of the district and its educational institutions regarding 1952's Language Movement. Adding to the dismay, the condition of the district’s 242 Shaheed Minars is poor and they are in desperate need of restoration.
Addressing the proceedings, Satkhira Nagorik Andolan convener Advocate Fahimul Haque Kislu said: "The Shaheed Minar is a symbol of our Bangali consciousness. It is our identity. We express our feelings and emotions at the Shaheed Minar.
"It is unfortunate that 67 years after the 1952 Language Movement, and 48 years since the our War of Independence, most of the schools and other educational institutes are yet to have a Shaheed Minar; that would act as a bridge between the younger generation and our glorious and brave past."
"This is a matter of great sorrow and concern. If we do not take the necessary steps to ensure that the youth are well-versed about the history of struggle and triumph of the country, they will lose the sense and essence of being a proud Bangladeshi.
"Every educational institution should, and must, have a Shaheed Minar on their premises to carry forward the valiant and courageous history of the 1952 Language Movement. Despite declaring a holiday on February 21, educational institutes should observe this day, and its history, with the students so that they understand the gravity of this movement," he added.
District Education Officer Abdullah Al Mamun added: "Establishing Shaheed Minars in different schools and colleges is sometimes difficult due to a shortage of space.
“However, we also want every educational institute to have a Shaheed Minar so that the students are well aware about and well versed in the glorious and mournful history of the 1952 Language Movement and what followed it, the 1971 Liberation War."