How can student organizations be improved?
Student politics is one of the most neglected topics in global scholarly debate, though it is being practised in South Asian countries like Bangladesh, India, and Sri Lanka for so many years. United, students can play a major role in politics by participating in governmental activities.
In Bangladesh, there are some core student organizations -- Bangladesh Chhatra League, Bangladesh Jatiyotabadi Chatra Dal, Bangladesh Islami Chhatra Shibir, and more -- that represent their own political morals and principles.
The history of student politics in Bangladesh carries great significance. All the greatest movements and crisis periods have been pioneered by students to uphold the flag of truth and patriotism.
Starting from the Language Movement (1952), mass movement (1969), Liberation War (1971) to the removal of military dictatorship (1990), students stood beside the mass people in every critical situation to boost up their persistence and potential.
Compared to pre-liberation student politics, today’s scene is pernicious and disappointing. During enrollment season, student leaders try to manipulate the candidates with their dogmas, pushing them towards party politics.
In some cases, newcomers are forced to join their party. It’s rooted so deeply, that sometimes there is no way without accepting their proposal. This has become widely common in most public universities.
Those who become members of the ruling party are given “power” in their institutes and halls to rule over other ordinary students, which leads to bullying or ragging. It involves abuse, humiliation, harassment of new entrants who may even be subjected to physical or psychological torture.
Newcomers get to know about their senior leaders even before they get the chance to know their campus. Most get familiar with the culture of ragging, and if any general student writes or says something that goes against or is unrelated to the student party’s views and ideals, the members add a tag to the student and attack him in barbarous ways. The recent murder of Abrar Fahad, a student of Buet, is a timely example in this regard.
From 1972 to 2014, some 147 students have been murdered, and every murder was related to politics. Some of the murders and tortures have not been reported in the media, but have been swept under the rug using political influence.
Today’s student politics is neither people-oriented nor education-oriented -- it is all about personal interest and power. The sacrifice is only to strengthen position in campus and halls.
They should be called as power elites, rather than student leaders. Where once students fought against oppression and injustice, today they have become mercenaries -- rent-seeking and crime-loving in nature.
Students are being used as political tools by the student leaders and politicians. So, if a student is engaged in a political party, then how will he be able to fulfill his academic goals?
According to the Global Innovation Index, among 129 countries in the invention sector, Bangladesh stands at 116th position. In 2018, it was 114th.
There is no doubt that student politics is more or less responsible for the degradation in the invention and research field. A country like Kenya (77th) stands well ahead of us.
Student affiliation with national politics has indeed forced higher education institutes to close during strikes, hindering the road to development.
Student politics is being used as a trump card for political interests. They can’t be the pathway by which one party should progress.
In a student’s life, a student must engage in academic progress, and teachers should monitor students from time to time. Institutes must increase sufficient educational facilities, with periodic parent-teachers interactions.
There should be separate inter-student forums, which will have no connection with political parties. The aim of these forums must be for the betterment of students, and should facilitate academic approaches.
If the university authority makes such a framework mandatory and part of the course index, then future leaders, the most important human resources, will automatically rise up.
Last but not least, ragging should be banned on every campus and hall. If someone neglects the rules, he or she should be given an appropriate penalty.
Nadim Zawad Akil is freelance contributor.