School students, teachers demonstrate in Dhaka for safety amid political violence

Students are scared going to school, and parents are worried about sending them, says the headmaster of a school

Published : 21 Nov 2023, 05:07 PM
Updated : 21 Nov 2023, 05:07 PM

Tasmia Tania, along with her fellow students and teachers from Tejgaon Model High School, formed a human chain at Dhaka’s Farmgate to express their concern about how political unrest affects their academic activities.

Tasmia shared her fears about going to school during these turbulent times.

"I'm scared to go to school because of the violence and incidents of buses being set on fire. We want a peaceful and conducive learning atmosphere," she said.

Teachers and students from 15 schools, including Tasmia's, participated in similar human-chain demonstrations across the capital on Tuesday afternoon.

They called for a safe and stable environment for their education during hartals and blockades called by the BNP and the Jamaat-e-Islami as part of their anti-government campaign before the national elections.

The BNP enforced a nationwide hartal, or shutdown, for 48 hours to 6am on Tuesday to protest against the schedule of the general election, claiming it was “unilateral”.

The country's largest opposition group has been holding hartals and transport blockades since violence broke out surrounding its Dhaka rally on Oct 28.

Arsonists have set fire to 185 vehicles and 15 structures nationwide during the hartals and blockades since that day, according to the Fire Service and Civil Defence.

Jamal Uddin, the head teacher of Tejgaon Model High School, who was part of the human chain in Farmgate, said: "If things keep going this way, it will be bad for the children. They might fall behind in their education. We're near the end of the year, and it's exam time.

“If the situation worsens, we might not be able to hold exams, which would be really bad for the students," he added.

Many students from Hossain Ali High School took part in a human chain at the Nabisco intersection.

Abdul Jabbar Howladar, the head teacher, said political instability affects the school all the time.

He said that students are scared to come to school, and parents are worried about sending them.

“They're right to be worried because accidents can happen. We're demonstrating to try and stop this kind of situation."

Jabbar said even though exams were going on at their school, they joined the protest on the streets because of the fear felt by students and their parents.

"We just want to take our exams and come to school safely,” said Sajeeb Ahmed, an eighth-grader from the school.

“We expect an environment where we don't have to face these kinds of problems."