SINCE my girlhood, I've been regretting the fact that I am not an English medium student. But now, being an MA student of English literature at the university of Dhaka, I feel I've missed nothing.
Actually, it is the mindset of ignorant people, which puts the students in the binary opposition, which unquestionably ruins the purpose of education. Let's remember what ex-president Julius Nyerera of Tanzania, way back in 1974, said at an international conference: the primary purpose of education was the liberation of man from the restrictions of habits and attitudes which limit his humanity. He further said education should promote humanity and universal brotherhood and that it could be used as a catalyst for a change for the better. To elaborate these words in my sense is to say that: education humanizes, civilizes and develops people. Advancement, which means development, cannot be achieved without education since it is the very yardstick of prosperity.
But the present condition of our educational system needs to be redefined. We should not forget that only getting degrees from academies and institutions is not the motto of education; it is something more, deeper, more lasting and more humane. In Bangladesh, we need truly educated persons in the very sense of the term. The medium-mania should not affect the growth of the young generation. I remember the story of the ugly crow, which, in trying to be nice as a pea-cock, lost its own identity and I am afraid that the English medium guys, in trying to be like the 'Whites', are running the risk of persevering the 'Babu' culture. All these led us to a new kind of colonization. Though geographically de-colonized, we are never so, psychologically. As a legacy of colonization, English has pervaded our society and now we've started to find fault with our own culture, tradition, religion and rituals.
My purpose is to propose a few ways, which, if followed, may blur the unnecessary binary opposition between the two different mediums and maintain a balance. The reformations, I propose, are very basic ones:
* English, as a language, should be emphasised as a skill, not as an oracle.
* It is the great duty of teachers to teach the students how to maintain a proper balance between private and professional spheres.
* Interests should be taken in Bangladeshi culture, tradition, values, beliefs, norms, religion, ritual etc.
* Care must be taken for the upbringing of the students who psychologically may be ruined by the hegemony of English.
* Finally, our home is the best school for our children. If we want children to grow up decently and become good citizens of the country and of the world, we should start to educate them from home. Let's change the colonized mind-set which makes us prejudiced against what is your own.
Colonization is not something merely geographical-it is rooted in our psyche. It is time to be singularly conscious about the state. After all, these kids are going to hold the country's responsibly, why to take chance?
My basic argument is not directed against the idea that English should be a medium of education in Bangladesh but the tendency of Europeanization of the system. No sincere mind can escape the pervasive Eurocentircism prevailing in it. How can we forget that we are being dominated by the great game of power-knowledge? Nor can we overlook the fact that education, whether state or missionary, primary or secondary (and later tertiary) was a massive cannon in the artillery of empire.
Therefore, I want to draw the attention of the parents who are bent on English medium education system to the rapaciously exploitative nature of English as a language (particularly when it concerns a sensitive phenomena like education.). Besides, the syllabus of the English medium schools includes things, less and less related to our context. I think, it must include aspects closely related to our total context, be it in translation. The way the students read English literature, Bangla literature also should be introduced to them in translation. Isn't the treasure of Bangla literature fully resourced? Aren't many worthy translations of them available? If not, can't we afford to translate them for the youngsters? Parents must keep an eye that their children get the 'right' kind of education, which will prepare the right kind of generation we need for future.
Off! Hard talks apart! Its' time we celebrated Pahela Baishakh. Don't receive it as a mere festival of sight and sound; heal it through your soul. Make it your spirit. Give a new, thoughtful look at everything around you. Let new year arouse in us the true Bangalee spirit which knows to respect its own and keeps balance between right and wrong.