6 years ago

Bewildered victims of a school fire

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The recent media-circulated images of teenage school girls sobbing their heart out have moistened the eyes of many people. They were crying after a terrible loss inflicted on them. It happened for no fault of theirs. A group of miscreants set a midnight fire to their school, which had virtually stood for their eventual liberation. It was a unique kind of freedom, one that would have liberated them from a world filled with deprivations and oppressions. The school served as a great bulwark against discrimination, orthodoxies and obscurantism. For many of the students, both female and male, the outlying village school was a beacon of career-building --- a secure future. All these hopes and dreams ended up shattered, in burnt-out furniture, damaged curricular-related materials and a dreadful void caused by the blaze. The sheer villainy and brutality behind the act defies credulity. 
One has to grope desperately for words to describe the sheer monstrosity that was at play in the setting of fire to the remote village school. The institution stood on an outlying Charland (shoal) in Gaibandha in the northern region. As many have suspected, the criminal act was one of sabotage by elements hell-bent on obstructing the path of young students to education, and, finally, enlightenment. 
Established by a non-governmental organisation (NGO), the school had 600 male and female students. It did take some time to discover that the blaze was no accident. The site of the fire smelt of petrol, meaning it was a planned act of doing harm to students --- veritably to education. It's really depressing to see the sheer audacity of a section of people out to jeopardise the increasing social awareness of being educated, and its great fruits. In the present Bangladesh, the soaring percentage of school enrolment and students willing to continue their studies has proved a phenomenal development. There are few areas in the country that do not have at least one high school. The isolated mid-river charlands too were lately having their schools, many established by the NGOs. 
The school had curricular grades up to class X. A good number of the students were preparing to take the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) school final exams this year. In the context of the women's stepping into the previously off-limits socio-economic freedoms, the fallout of the fire is feared to hurt the girl students the most. 
Attacks on schools are not unheard-of in the country. But their ferocity and frequency is still negligible. It's only the firm government measures and social involvement which can root out the incipient menace.
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