Age should not stop one from learning. One can pursue education at any age if there is a will. A mother of five has proved this by getting enrolled in Class-I along with her youngest child in a primary school in Sadar upazila here.
Taslima Begum, 35, wife of rickshaw-puller Golam Hossain, and their son Masum Hossain, 6, have got admitted to No. 46 Akania Govt Primary School. They received their textbooks on January 1 when the entire country celebrated the textbook festival.
After the admission, both the mother and the son are passing busy time with their studies.
Taslima was married off to Golam Hossain at an early age for which she could not continue her education. She, however, used to nurture deep in her heart a great interest for education.
Talking to UNB, Taslima said she took the decision to get enrolled in school in order to become a good housewife as she had to face criticisms for lack of education on various occasions.
“I’ve a dream to be a social worker to serve the community in the future, and my study will help me fulfill my dream. I think it’s possible to have education at any age.”
Chairman of Sadar upazila parishad Shahjahan Shishir inspired Taslima when he learned about her enormous interest about study.
Obayedur Rahman, headmaster of the school, said the textbooks were distributed among students, including Taslima and her son Masum, on the first day of the New Year when the upazila parishad chairman was present there.
Speaking on the occasion, Shahjahan Shishir urged the school authorities to provide Taslima the same opportunity that other students avail themselves of.
He also took the responsibility of the studies of the mother and son, saying, “I’ll bear all the educational expenses of Taslima and her son as long as they study.”
District Primary Education Officer Mohammad Sahabuddin said they are working relentlessly to root out illiteracy from the country by 2041 under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. “I think we should create the opportunity for Taslima and support her because she is showing a great interest in study,” he said.
Senior teacher Abul Bashar and Hafez Ahmed said Taslima is one of the oldest students in the district. “But we cordially welcome her deep interest to learn,” said Bashar.
The government move to free Dhaka city from the horrible power cables is yet to see any success, thanks to the conflicts among the Nationwide Telecommunication Transmission Network (NTTN) and internet service providers (ISPs).
A committee formed by the Power Division has come up with the disclosure and found it as a major roadblock towards bringing discipline in power cable management, official sources said.
At a meeting on October 31, the Power Division constituted the committee, headed by its joint secretary (good governance and operation management) Abul Khain MD Aminur Rahman giving him 15 days’ time to prepare a report on required actions for removing all the overhead cables dangling with electric poles posing a great threat to uninterrupted power supply, according to the sources.
State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid had presided over that meeting, attended by representatives from different groups of stakeholders.
The sources said the Power Division’s move is part of the government plan to take underground all kinds of overhead cables, including electricity, internet and dish TV lines within the next few years.
Overhead cables of different services like internet, telecom, and cable TV networks from the electric poles in Dhaka. Photo:Collected
They said the DPDC and Desco, now engaged in power distribution in the city, had undertaken a project to take their overhead electric cables underground in Dhanmondi and Gulshan areas.
Official sources said the committee recently sat with all the stakeholders, including the representatives of NTTN and ISP companies, to find out the main reasons of repeated failures of the distribution companies to remove the overhead non-electric cables from electric poles and also found a solution to the problem.
Recently, the committee submitted its report to the ministry giving a detailed description of the current conflict among the companies disrupting the government’s initiatives in this regard.
The report mentioned that Summit Communications Limited (SCL) and Fiber@Home (FAH) have been working as NTTN in the city and they laid underground cables for operating their main internet network in the city while some 1734 legal and some 5,000 illegal internet service providing (ISP) companies have been operating as local ones to provide internet connections to homes and offices through overhead cables.
As per the system, the ISPs are supposed to take connections from SCL and FAH to take internet service to homes and offices from the main network.
But NTTN companies alleged that the ISPs are not taking connections from Label Distribution Protocol (LDP) or Access Point (AP) installed by NTTN as it will cost them financially, says the report.
On the other hand, the report reveals, the IPS companies alleged that they do not prefer taking connections from LDP or AP as they do not get required and instant solutions from the NTTN companies if any problem takes place in any internet service connection.
Besides, the NTTN are charging excessively in providing connections to the ISP companies from their LDP and AP, the report mentions quoting the ISP companies.
Under the circumstances, the ISP companies are hanging overhead cables indiscriminately and giving connections to homes and offices without following any rule or regulation, the report says adding that only the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) can step in and resolve the conflict.
Finally, the committee adopted an 11-point recommendation to have a solution and take all overhead cables underground through coordination with electricity distribution companies —DPDC and Desco.
The committee found that the haphazardly hung internet, security and dish TV cables are not only posing a great a threat to the power distribution system, but also creating a major obstacle to the government’s move for the beautification of the capital.
Contacted, State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid said he has already received the report in this regard and planned to hold a meeting again with the stakeholders, including NTTN and ISP companies.
“After the meeting, we’ll give some suggestions to them. If they don’t follow, we’ll go for action against the troublemakers in removing haphazardly hung cables from electric poles,” he told UNB.
During the Liberation War in 1971, more than 500 men and women were hauled in a group and forced to dig their own graves before they were shot dead by the Pakistani occupation force.
A memorial lacking the list of victims or a flag lifting platform was built at the site, located in a paddy field near Railway line of Rasulpur village in the Sadar upazila, in 2008 to remember the victims. After years of negligence, it now lies in almost ruins.
Local farmers use the memorial for drying paddy in day time while drug addicts use the site at night.
Freedom Fighter Nannu Chowdhury of Sector 2 said he remembers vividly how the Pakistani Army had brought a large number of youths there for killing.
“The youths were lined up and shot dead one after another. Later, their bodies were dumped in the mass grave,” he said, adding that wild animals and stray dogs had feasted upon the bodies.
Nannu said the delay in constructing the memorial and subsequent negligence is a matter of shame.
“We, the freedom fighters demand proper preservation of the memories of the martyrs,” he said.
Shafiul Ahmed Bablu, Former Commander of local Muktijoddha Sangsad, said the freedom fighters and the Pakistani army had fought a protracted battle in Rasulpur. “The defeated Pakistani forces indiscriminately killed the locals and dumped their bodies in mass grave,” he said.
Bablu said they had been requesting the local authorities for preserving the memorial. “The government has built a memorial but failed to honour it,” he said.
The people of Bangladesh joined the War of Independence responding to the call of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1971. During the War, the Pakistani army targeted nationalist Bengali civilians, students, intelligentsia, and religious minorities.
Sifat Ali took up arms and fought gallantly in the Liberation War in 1971, but his battle is far from over as he continues to fight for recognition as a freedom fighter.
The 65-year-old from Sunamganj’s Tahirpur upazila took part in the Liberation War from Sector Five and received a certificate from General Osmani shortly after independence.
His world turned upside down when his name was dropped from the list of freedom fighters and his allowance was stopped.
Sifat, who has difficulty in walking, has since been going from one government office to another hoping to regain his lost freedom fighter status and dignity.
“I fought for the country responding to the call of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. My brothers in arms have been recognised as freedom fighters but I’ve been left out. It’s really upsetting,” he told UNB.
He said he had gone to Dhaka with former Tahirpur upazila Muktijoddha Commander Mojahid Uddin and applied for inclusion in gazette in 2014. But there has been no progress.
“I got recognition after independence. But I was stripped off my status and allowance when my name was dropped from the list recently,” he said.
His son Emran Hossain said his father’s last wish is to die as a recognised freedom fighter.
Tahirpur Upazila Nirbahi Officer Bijen Bannerjee said he was willing to recommend Sifat Ali after scrutinising his papers. “The ministry will make the final call,” he added.
Muktijoddha Commander Mojahid said that there was no doubt that Sifat Ali is a freedom fighter.
“Everyone knows that he fought in the Liberation War. I hope that he gets his due honour and recognition as a freedom fighter during his lifetime,” he said.
A crisis of raw materials , low prices of finished goods and availability of cheaper alternatives are pushing the once thriving ‘mele’ mat industry of Satkhira towards extinction.
“The demand for ‘mele’ mats came down due to availability of plastic mats,” said Kawsar Ali, a wholesale mat trader of Sultanpur Boro Bazar in Satkhira who has been involved with the trade for 30 years.
A medium-sized plastic mat is sold at Tk 200-220 whereas a ‘mele’ mat of the same size costs Tk 300-350. “People are basically going for the cheaper alternative,” he said.
Many mat artisans are changing professions. But it was not always like this.
Only two decades ago, the business was brisk and mats from Satkhira were supplied all over the country.
Ninety percent families of Tetulia village in Ashashuni upazila used to be involved with mat production in the early 2000s, locals said. The number is now dwindling and at present, a small number of families are involved with the trade.
Many artisans are barely managing to hold on to the profession.
Gobinda Mondol, 55, is one of them. He said ‘mele’, a type of grass used as raw material for making the mat, is scarce now and costs much.
“Tk 500 is needed to make a big-sized mat and it’s sold for Tk 600. It takes time to make a mat and it’s really difficult to run family with the paltry income,” he said.
Tarapodo Mondol, 60, of Joduardangi village of the same upazila, said they have been making mats for generations. He recalled how ‘mele’ was once widely cultivated in the area.
“We used to produce 200 to 250 pairs of mats every week but the number has come down to eight to 10. As a result, the mat industry is on the verge of extinction,” he said.
Tarapodo said people involved with the mat trade had changed profession to feed their families.
Nasim Faruk Khan Mithu, President of Satkhira Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the industry has suffered serious setback. “Those who were involved with this profession are now living in inhuman condition,” he said.
Stakeholders have urged the government to take prompt steps. They said it will soon cease to exist if the producers are not provided with necessary loan assistance.