There were two strains of education that the more senior citizens of the country grew up with. Aside from the formal, structured tuition of schools where the truly educated and qualified teachers inculcated values between the lines and beyond text books, there was the basic and more elementary learning at home. Those were times when parents took time out from daily lives to be with children and assist them in acquiring knowledge. This was the crucial learning from life, its values drawn from the sayings of sages and the experience of our forefathers.
Corruption in society was nothing new permeating slowly through the society and even sacrilegiously, within the religious institutions. Fingers were pointed at those that took the decision to live beyond their means in any way and there was a social stigma surrounding them. Politicians engaged in their pursuits with their own money till the power of big business came down to bear on policy decisions and temptation and greed began to outweigh righteousness.
We now face a situation where in the words of the Anti Corruption Chief corruption is present in every sphere of life and morality as we knew it has been stamped out to near extinction. Consistent tinkering with the education system and with the wrong people at the helms of education curriculum has changed drastically. With the focus on secular and scientific education gaining traction from the authorities, the concentration on moral and values based education has taken a back seat. Certification has taken priority over acquiring knowledge and that crucial aspect of learning at home as before stands sadly neglected. Children are no longer taken out to be with nature, introduced to flora and fauna that would subsequently lead to their developing an affinity that should contribute to thinking of preserving natural habitats.
The minority privileged to be educated in institutions where vestiges of values are still practiced are the ones that essentially do well in examinations. Unfortunately this is the same group, parents of which seek foreign education and preferably permanent residence abroad for their wards. Some organisations have made the effort to recognise academic excellence by students but it is doubtful if the majority of them remain in the country beyond their basic education. How their foreign education expenses are managed, How the money is repatriated are questions rarely asked by society as a whole and the relevant authorities. It all contributes to the vicious circle of corruption.
Realistically speaking most people can’t live well on the pay and salaries that they get. Previously, a second vocation after office hours was the recourse. With the state of the traffic as well as the scarcity of new jobs, that proposition is no longer viable. There are those that used to invest in small businesses or shops to supplement family income. Nowadays, husband and wife both have to seek some form of employment thereby resulting in children in most cases left on their own. More involvement in societal interests prey on whatever time is left in the day and this has led to the proliferation of drug usage and other forms of addiction among mentally depressed young people in particular.
Social media is often criticised for diverting children further from the teachings of life. It is made worse by the at times dodgy and downright falsehoods propagated. Yet it is a powerful platform to educate everyone about positives, morality and specifically words of wisdom from the learned. Instead, there is more of negativity being communicated especially by online media that also highlights the rampant corruption that is taking place. If the drive against corruption has to bite the relevant authorities have to be beefed up with personnel well remunerated so as to be above the lure of wrong doing. Internal controls, especially where public money is spent has to be put in place and enforced stringently. Punishment has to be be more than just removing personnel from their posts, it must extend to recovering misappropriated moneys from their assets and if necessary bringing back from abroad children who are being educated with ill-begotten wealth.
Government to government collaboration along with a more active role by our missions abroad in cooperation with the diaspora needs to be pressed into action to recover capital flight and book the guilty.
A communications and regulatory affairs specialist, Mahmudur Rahman has worked as head of function with British American Tobacco Bangladesh, Robi and served as the CEO of Bangladesh Cricket Board.