Wednesday, September 23, 2015


EDUCATION market in Bangladesh deserves ‘thanks’ for its exhibition of a part of its power with anomaly and tyranny. The market does not care about common benefits. It moves and it demolishes dignity of teachers and dream of young learners. It laughs in the face of the powerless, the citizens without money power.
Two recent incidents in the Bangladesh education area is a show of the relevant market: the issue of the university teachers’ dignity and the recently concluded admission tests for medical and dental colleges. With this show, it exposes the fact that market does not favour the weak, the underprivileged, the people without purchasing capacity.   Bangladesh university teachers are demanding dignity. To have dignity in this society, it seems, one has to demand in a loud voice; otherwise, the question of dignity goes ignored. It is a show of real economy with its power of dominance. The dominance is such that it does not recognise the dignity of teachers; teachers are to demand it; they are to demand it repeatedly. The dominance unveils its sense of dignity.
The economy is so efficient and powerful that it feels confident with its way of bestowing dignity proportionately or without proportion on different parts of the broader society. The economy is so arrogant with its dominance that it can ignore the question of the dignity of teachers. It is its face. It does not care about the dignity of others. It cares about its dominance. It cares about its dominance in a foolish way.
It does not know that Alexander reproached the members of his suite as those ugly devils began to make fun with the philosopher Diogenes, and then, Alexander said: ‘If I were not Alexander, I would wish to be Diogenes.’ Alexander had not only muscle power. There was brain power also.
On the contrary, the dominance, it seems, relies on muscle power. It is a power to dominate the weak, the silent. And, it is a power of the weak. Hence, seemingly scholarly opinions shamelessly search and fail to find ‘bargaining chip’ of the Bangladesh university teachers as the teachers raised their voice for dignity and the opinion was entertained by a few others including media outlet considered respectable.
It is a show of scholarship on which the dominance depends. It can move with this level of knowledge. It does not need other level of knowledge.
Economy in England required an appropriate level of the knowledge of science, philosophy, history, politics, technology for its own sake as it was extracting resources from beneath the earth, transporting goods in huge quantities, encroaching on land, pushing out peasants from land, enslaving thousands in industrial centres, securing interests tied to the resources. Appropriate philosophy and literature cropped up. France had, broadly, the same history: Requirements in economy generated appropriate scholarship, logic, arguments. Hence, there is Rousseau, there is Robespierre. Material production demanded the scholarship.
There were social requirements. These pushed forward science and technology. Science was turned into productive force. There was class struggle. This, at times, turned direct, fierce, powerful. These advanced knowledge. Ideas emerged and evolved. A few lost relevance while a few proved as essential. The complex process required knowledge as issues like rates of profit, accumulation, surplus value, and crisis and decline were encountered. The complex process required violence and restraint, law to protect property, and coercion to impose law. Market was playing its game with its level of scholarship.
Bangladesh finds an education market; not a small in size within Bangladesh reality. ‘Money’ involved in note book/guide book business is a small part of the market. Its business connection is wide.
 ‘Money’ involved in note book/guide book business is a small part of the market. Its business connection is wide.
‘Money’ involved in note book/guide book business is a small part of the market. Its business connection is wide.
There are bigger organisations involved with the market encompassing an area from primary to higher education. It goes to collaboration with organisations from other countries. There are recruiting/admission centres, local centres delivering parts of course of centres claiming to be educational from other countries, regular events organised for admission in organisations claiming to be educational from other countries, diplomatic support to these marketing approaches.
There are private organisations that train children handwriting as if never in this land none learnt handwriting in primary schools. A few very costly and luxurious schools are emerging that are catering to a very minor group of the rich of the country. People claiming to be teachers are imported for these schools.
A lot of these go beyond public view and scrutiny. The issues of transparency and accountability in this area are daydreams. Even, a complete account of these is almost impossible to find out. Here, in this article, it is a very sketchy description of the business, which can produce a very long list.
At the same time, the Bangladesh journalists regularly digs out stories of ‘from zero to hero’ — a lorry driver or a petty thief active in a city market place turns millionaire without any investment within a few years, wields wide power based on connections, terrorises a population in an area, and amasses a huge property. A Dhaka gang of pickpockets regularly spent a few hundreds of thousands of takas for travelling to Saudi Arabia during the holy Hajj with the plan of pick-pocketing the honourable hajis, Hajj performers. The gang has recently been apprehended. It is an international pick-pocketing operation! The multi-level marketing scam is a repeated incident. The total amount of these scams over the years is huge in terms of Bangladesh economy. The stories of other loots — from nature, banks, public property, property of individuals from weaker parts of society, from consumers of public utilities, hardware and software projects — are much narrated as are the stories of speculation, black marketeering, smuggling. These are related to the stock market of Bangladesh variation, essential commodities, agro-products, valuable metals and drugs. Together they make a size to be ‘appreciated’. [Appropriation of surplus value is not considered here.]
What happens to these ‘monies’? What connections do these build up? What are the areas and organisations these ‘monies’ infiltrate? How these ‘monies’ behave? What senses do these ‘monies’ own? What influences do these ‘monies’ spread across organisations, masses and culture?
The way and the amount of the ‘generation’ of these ‘monies’ astonish many traders, many manufacturers, many service providers, and many industrialists in Bangladesh. It takes an ‘astonishing’ shape and character as these ‘monies’ metamorphoses and enters into the broader economy that includes manufacturing, processing, etc. Culture, institutions and politics in all areas of public life cannot stay beyond it. The required ideology is framed accordingly and appropriately. Formal and dominant education is part of the ideology.
The pattern, the character of dominance that thus gets shaped, gathers energy in market — a region of tyranny. Education cannot escape the forces in the market once it is brought to market for trading. Honour, dignity, merit, labour, all are traded and subordinated to the market where only profit dominates and profit belongs to the powerful. This finds the more the power, the higher the dignity; the more the ‘money’, the higher the honour; the more the ‘money’ power, the more the ‘merit’. The merit as an output of labour falls down on dust — it is pushed back as ‘money’ owners purchase meritorious positions. It is part of the market’s manipulation. Merit produced with ceaseless hard labour haplessly is thrown out of market as the ‘money’ ‘germinated’ through the process mentioned above does not require scientific knowledge for a time being, and at initial stage. It can carry on its business — loot, etc. — with the ‘merit’ without merit. Even, trading with seats of merit is a lucrative business for it.
A comparison makes it easy to comprehend the lucrative business: The time and effort required to introduce or to import a technology in agriculture, in garment factory, in market place, in public education area, and the time required for ‘innovation’ of transmitting answers in a recently held admission test and the device used for conducting the smart business. The device, as media reports cited an official concerned, is a hearing machine small enough to hide inside ear and it was imported. The official concerned is not that irresponsible that he will concoct a device gossip.
What is the price of the device? What is the total amount of money required for entering into the deal for admission — getting answers in an admission test for a slot in a medical or dental college. Getting such a slot is a young learner’s dream nourished for years? How many months’ labour of an ordinary wage earner is required for earning that amount of money required to enter into the deal for admission — Tk 6,00,000 to Tk 1.5 million? How many ordinary persons can afford that amount? Who can afford that? The takawala, the rich, can afford the amount of money. An ordinary wage earner of Bangladesh in a far away land toiling under hard working condition has to forgo a few months’, and for many, years’, wage or savings.
Two aspects emerge from the, let it name, device deal: (1) the poor, meritorious gets kicked out; and (2) the broader society has to bear the burden of corrupt, non-merit. On the one hand, inequality widens and consolidates; and on the other, society suffers and is going to be suffered. However, the rich, the corrupt, the powerful entering into the device deal reaps benefits. Thus, it stands as, a few money-powered benefits at the cost of many weak, poor citizens.
This biased reality, a corruption of reality, does not go for the dignity of teachers as the money power dominating the reality considers that money is dignity, power is dignity, everything is purchasable, merit does not matter. Goodwill and intervention of an individual leader or a group of leaders may redress the dignity issue as the aggrieved group raised the issue of indignity, but the reality of increasing inequality persists. It persists because of the character of the ‘money’ involved. With this persistence, the ‘money’ involved confirms its harmful role, and creates rational for making it irrelevant.
The students and guardians demanding redress of their grievances related to the admission test, thus, stand as part of discontent that the ‘money’ concerned creates. The discontent can be ignored temporarily but cannot be wiped out. Instead of getting wiped out, it will silently creep in and turn powerful until redressed properly. The placards that the students held during their recent protest near the National Press Club in Dhaka read: Jadi habe prashna fans, keno parba bara mas (Why shall I study round-the-year if the admission question paper is leaked), and Taka achhe bap-dadar, medical naki chorakarbar (Parents have money, probably the medical admission exam is a black marketeering). The slogans are a rejection of the money power that corrupts reality, increases and confirms irresponsible ‘money’s’ harmful role. It will impact deeply and negatively as young learners’ yearning for justice shall not go in vain.

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