Dhaka, Oct 9 (UNB) - Patients, the physically-challenged, women, the elderly and children often fail to avail themselves of overbridges (or ‘footbridges’) to cross roads as the initial climb-up the flight of stairs -- often to a height of two storeys --leaves them severely depleted in terms of energy, besides being time-consuming.
While visiting different areas of capital Dhaka, the UNB correspondent came across a number of such people.
All of them who braved the road shared one common calculation: the risk associated with crossing the road at ground level, snaking one’s way around stationary vehicles or even scrambling at the sight of speeding ones, was outweighed by the physical exertion and time it would take to cross overhead.
By far the more physically challenging part comes first, that is, in the very act of climbing up the stairs to get on the bridge.
There are three foot overbridges in the city’s Shahbagh area, all of them lacking any sort of special arrangement for people who may not be in an ideal shape to attempt the pretty steep (unlike stairs in most houses, they tend to rise up in one steep incline) climb, very often in sapping conditions brought on by the heat and humidity. And it is even worse for those nursing any disabilities.
One way around the problem that has been tried abroad could be to provide escalators on the side used to climb onto the overbridge.
Some very important institutions such as Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Medical University, Ibrahim Cardiac Medical College and BIRDEM Hospital are located in the area.
During a recent visit to the area, the UNB correspondent spoke to a number of pedestrians who expressed their frustration and distress at the risks they were forced to take, just to cross the road.
Rabbi Bhuiyan, a second-year student of Dhaka University said, “I feel sorry but nothing to do for the patients, physically challenged people, women, and children who struggle to cross the road.”
Suman came to the PG hospital with his mother who was not able to walk. But he was seen crossing the road using the foot overbridge carrying his mother in his arms.
Coming down the other side, clearly exhausted, he laments how much easier it would have been had there only been a lift or escalator to get on the bridge -- as some cities in southeast Asia do it.
Dhaka’s two city corporations have so far built over 80 such overbridges in the city, with 32 in South City Corporation and 49 in North City Corporation. But only two of them -- one at Banani and another near the Airport -- have the escalator facility.
Though it was planned to provide the escalator at one end of every overbridge, there has been no progress so far.
Contacted, DSCC Chief Engineer Al Ahmed said, “One of the key functions of the Engineering department of the city corporation is to construct the footbridges and underpasses, but we didn’t think too much for the patients, the physically-challenged, women, the elderly and children in the design.”
He further said, “But we’re planning to provide special services making the best use of technology soon. We’ve launched a feasibility test in six places for setting up escalators.”
Joint Secretary of 'Bangladesh Environment Movement' and architect Iqbal Habib also expressed frustration and said all the infrastructure projects are taken to serve the purpose of businesspeople, not the common people.
Stressing the big change in the current system of traffic management, he also said the city corporations should design their works aiming to serve the people. All possible things should be addressed for making it user-friendly ones before finalising any project.
Khulna, Oct 7 (UNB) – Despite having huge prospects, the tourism industry in the district remained untapped due to the alleged apathy of the authorities concerned and lack of necessary infrastructures.
People from home and abroad are losing interest in visiting tourist spots in the district for poor communication system and the absence of skilled tourist guides.
Sources said 80 percent of tourists from home and abroad go to visit the Sundarbans, the Unesco World Heritage site, via Khulna but they hardly get adequate facilities in Khulna city as the government did not take any initiative in this regard. As a result, the tourists now have to depend on private tour operators.
Many local tourists said substandard services with unskilled and less educated people cannot fulfill their needs, especially those who come from abroad.
They said the absence of standard hotels in the city is another reason why tourists are losing interest in visiting attractive spots here.
Sources at the Forest Department said manpower crisis is the main obstacle towards flourishing tourism in the district and they have no authentic information how many tourists travel the Sundarbans a year.
According to the 2014 policy taken by the government, except some tourist spots including Karamjal in the Sundarbans, the tourists have to take prior permission from the Forest department to go to the forest and they have to abide by some rules and regulations monitored by the department.
Kochi Jamaddar, president of Tour Operators’ Association, alleged the tourist spots in the district are plagued by various problems, including infrastructural lacking and manpower crisis. Besides, the security guards provided by the Forest department for river cruise in the Sundarbans are unskilled and aged ones.
Sources at the Archeology department here said there are some potential tourist spots like Tagore’s father-in-law’s house at Dakkhindihi, Pithabhoog and PC Roy’s house other the traditional Sundarbans but tourists do not get necessary services for lack of manpower.
Mohammd Helal Hossain, deputy commissioner of Khulna, said the construction work on a Parjatan Corporation office is going on in full swing and the local administration is trying hard to implement the project in time.
Dhaka, Oct 7 (UNB) – As the government has recognised top Qawmi degree ‘Dawrae Hadith’ as master’s one, noted educationists think it will be a useless exercise unless the curricula of such informal madrasa are vigorously reformed and modernised with its integration into the mainstream education.
They also questioned the justification of giving the top Qawmi degree master’s status without recognising its certificates equivalent to JDC, SSC, HSC and Degree levels.
Talking to UNB, National Professor Anisuzzaman, Professor Emeritus Serajul Islam Choudhury, Prof Abul Barakat and Prof Mesbah Kamal said the government’s such move will not yield any positive outcome for the country and students of Qawmi madrasas since their education quality in no way matches the general education when it comes to curricula.
They said an education commission comprising Islamic scholars and academics needs to be formed urgently to modernise the Qawmi education with a holistic approach combining science, English and Arabic education so that Qawmi educational institutions can produce skilled human resources.
On September 19, a bill to recognise Dawrae Hadith (Kamil) certificate in Qawmi madrasas with the status of postgraduate degree of Islamic Studies and Arabic, was passed in parliament.
The bill will have retrospective effect and those who have so far acquired Dawrae Hadith degrees after the recognition in April, 2017 will be considered as master's degree holders.
There will be a board named Al-Haiyatul Ulia Lil-Jamiatil Qawmia Bangladesh integrating the existing six Qawmi madrasa education boards in the country which will prepare syllabuses, question papers, conduct examinations and award certificates among the students of Qawmi madrasas.
Contacted, Prof Anisuzzaman said, “I think the standard of education of Qawmi madrasas and mainstream educational institutions is not equal to give Dawrae Hadith the status of master’s degree. If the government has different information and statistics, that’s a different matter.”
He said the standard of Qawmi madrasa education needs to be upgraded with modern education to give such recognition.
Prof Serajul Islam said Qawmi and general education are two different streams of education system as their syllabuses and style of education are also different. “So, the recognition of Dawrae Hadith certificate as master’s degree status will only create confusion instead of bringing anything good for the county and people.”
He also said the Qawmi madrasa students will not be benefited by receiving such certificates due to the poor standard of their education. “If you give medical students the certificate of engineering how will they be benefited from it?”
Prof Serajul Islam also said Qawmi madrasa curricula are outdated ones as those have no focus on mother language, history, culture and science.
Prof Abul Barkat of Dhaka University’s Economics department said it is not clear to him how the government recognises Qawmi’s top class certificate without recognising its other levels equivalent to JSC, SSC, HSC and Degree ones. “I also can’t understand what benefits the students will get with their only master’s certificates since their education doesn’t match the general one.”
He said the Qawmi madrasa education should be integrated with the mainstream education through massive overhauling of their syllabuses and teaching method. “The government should now immediately constitute a commission comprising experts from both Qawmi and general education to streamline Qawmi madrasa education through reforming and modernising its syllabuses.”
Barkat who conducted a research on madrasa education and wrote a book titled ‘Political Economy of Madrasa Education in Bangladesh’, said Qawmi madrasa degrees are not comparable to mainstream ones as their curricula give emphasis on religious aspects instead of science-based modern one.
“Around 75 percent of madrasa students now remain unemployed in different forms as they have no opportunity to engage in jobs based on their education and skills,” he said.
Prof Mesbah Kamal of Dhaka University's History department said, “I think it’s not a justified decision to recognise the Dawrae Hadith certificate as equivalent to master's degree.”
Qawmi Madrasa education needs to bring under a systematic structure through vigorously reforming its curricula by including general subjects like history, culture, science and English and mathematics. “The reform should begin from the entry level to the top class of the Qawmi madrasas,” he said.
“Without modernising Qawmi madrasa education and improving its standard what’s the point of giving such certificates? Neither the students nor the county will be benefited from it,” the DU professor observed.
Echoing Prof Barakat, he said an education commission needs to formed with Islamic scholars and noted educationists urgently to modernise the Qawmi madrasa education and formulate time-befitting curricula for the students so that they can get quality education and diversify their professions through receiving government approved certificates.
Dhaka, Oct 6 (UNB) – “I had never thought or felt that I would do something other than music in my life.” This is how a leading exponent of modern music, Fahmida Nabi, puts her thoughts and love for music and life.
The worthy daughter of prominent singer Mahmudun Nabi, Fahmida Nabi, however, had no idea that music can be a source of income, too.
“You need to create happiness inside you. Life is mixed with full of happiness and sorrows. I would love to put my life in a place which is free from complexity,” she told UNB in an interview.
The National Award winning singer Fahmida Nabi, having a melodious voice, believes, “People will look beautiful if you have the eyes to see beauty. I am not beautiful. You have the eyes to see beauties in me.”
The singer grew up in an extremely inspirational and cultural-minded family where music was deeply-rooted.
“It was my mother who decided to bring a classical music teacher – Ustad Aman Ullah Khan - for us,” Fahmida recalled taking a trip down the memory lane.
Talking about her father, she said her father sang each of the songs with much love from his heart. “These songs are still alive in people’s hearts.”
The prominent singer thinks many youngsters are singing very well now but they need to give proper and continuous concentration on what they are doing.
These days Fahmida is also writing songs, and articles for media outlets. “I can see whole sky through my window. It gives me much happiness when I see rain through my window. A cup of tea having visible vapour and a book in hand - I love this kind of environment which inspires me to think and write.”
Fahmida says she does not have any free time and she, in fact, loves to remain engaged with work, no matter what type of work it is.
“I love to inspire myself. I create enthusiasm inside me. I find my daughter – Anmol - as strength within me,” she said.
Fahmida, the elder sister of the eminent singer Samina Chowdhury and popular musician Pancham, values friendship with people deeply. “I love to interact with people. You can say I talk too much.”
She achieved many prestigious awards including the precious National Film Award as the Best Female Playback Singer (2007) for the song 'Lukochuri Lukochuri Golpo' in the film 'Aha', Channel i Performance Award as the Best Singer (2008), Meril Prothom Alo Award as the Best Singer (2009), Channel i-Citycell Award as the Best Singer (2013), and Channel i Music Award (2016 and 2017).
Bagerhat, Oct 5 (UNB) - Preparations for celebrating Durga Puja, the largest religious festival of the Hindu community, are going on in the district, aiming to hold the country’s biggest puja with 701 idols.
Sculptors have been working day and night to properly shape the idols as the clay-works are almost finished in mandaps of the district.
The religious festival will begin with Mahalaya on October 9 while the ceremonies will take place from October 15 to October 19.
For the past eight years, Liton Sikder, a businessman from Hakimpur village of Khanpur union, has been holding the biggest Durga Puja in Bagerhat and South Asia as well.
The number of idols increases during the festival every year and this year the total number stands at 701.
Bijoy Krishna Bachar, a local sculptor, said 15 sculptors have been working for the last five months to make the idols of deities from four ages depicted in the pantheons of Ramayana and Mahabharata.
The works are at the final stage and the coloring of the idols are going on in the full swing, he added.
Locals are happy that their Hakimpur village has earned fame for ‘Sikder Barir Puja’.
Liton Sarkar, joint general secretary of Bagerhat District Puja Celebration Committee, also lauded the festivity of ‘Sikder Barir Puja’ and said over 600 mandaps have been set up in nine upazilas of the district.
Superintendent of Bagerhat Police Pankaj Chandra Roy said police have taken all the necessary preparations to ensure security during the Durga Puja in the district.
Tapan Kumar Biswas, Deputy Commissioner of Bagerhat district, said security at mandaps of the district will be tighter than previous years.
He also said organisers will have to remain alert so that no unpleasant incident can take place during the festival.