Topic: To ensure accountability in countries like Bangladesh we need to ensure that the general people understand the meaning of accountability and that they have the right to ask for it. To do it government must take legal step to make “Law and Constitution” a mandatory subject for primary and secondary education system as we have now Mathematics, English, Sociology etc.
What is the importance of law in a country? The answer is simple, to ensure that every activity is done in a systematic way. On the other hand, crime and corruption control is also a major issue behind passing a law and enforcing it. Generally a legal institution of government demonstrates all these things. In this process the target group is the parties or people who have engaged themselves in crime or corruption or any other activity that does not go with a systematic approach. A powerful legal institution can stop or at least reduce the level of illegal activities if the authority maintains accountability to the general people but in a country like Bangladesh this scope is very limited as the authority is somehow corrupted and they also keep connection with the criminal group for money. Here comes the importance of the general people. A sensible and conscious group of citizen will continuously put pressure on the government so that all the legal authorities keep their accountability and face judgment. To be sensible and conscious you need to know the rules and your right. There might be law for you in the constitution that will protect you in a particular situation and give you the right to say your words but how will you speak when this law is violated if you do not know about it. Accountability works in the same way. If you know the rule and the law you will be able to question the authority if there is something unexpected. On the other hand, your ignorance will give the authority an opportunity to avoid ensuring accountability as they know better than you. Still you may question them but as you do not know the exact thing you will easily be motivated and though the authority will answer your question, the answer will be a false one and you will never be able to identify it because of your ignorance about the law. That is why it is important for the general people to understand the basic laws and rules of constitution. This understanding can be done by including law and constitution in the primary and secondary education system.
A Simple Framework
Think of a general subject that our children learn in school and college. Let’s talk about Mathematics. From very beginning of education a child starts to know the rules and techniques of mathematics. He/she starts to learn the upper scale in the upper level. By the time the student passes secondary education he/she becomes to do the basic mathematics by calculation. He/she can easily identify the wrong calculation and correct it. If “Law and Constitution” becomes a general subject, students will be able to know the basic rules of law of the country. In this way their sensibility will develop and they will be aware of their right which will ultimately increase the accountability of the legal authorities.
The Most Important Reason:
In countries like Bangladesh majority of the population is poor and illiterate or little educated. Due to their poor financial condition they do not give importance to the education of their children. Rather, from very early stage of their life the children of the poor people start working. As a result they do not get chance to know about their rights and basic needs of life that the state must have to ensure. Sometimes they complete their primary education and in some cases very few students can complete their secondary education but they still lack the knowledge of basic rules of law. On the other hand, their poor financial condition forces them to live under the sympathy and the kindness of the rich people in the society. This is why they can’t raise their voice normally.
Besides, the legal authorities in Bangladesh like Police, Sub-Register’s office, BRTC, BRTA, WASA, BTRC, DESCO, PDB etc are mainly serving the rich people. It doesn’t mean that they are very friendly to the rich people. It means that if you have money you can get service from these departments. So, one thing is clear that the concept of accountability exists only in books but practically it is absent. People having money get their jobs done by-passing this accountability as they don’t even need it as soon as they get whatever they wanted. But only 20% of total population is rich. The remaining 80% is poor and these are the general people of Bangladesh. As stated above, due to their ignorance and financial problem they can’t raise their voice in most of the cases. Why? If they say something against the authority they will never get their job done. If they complain to higher authority or Polish department they will just take time and give them advice as they will not get any financial profit by serving a poor client. A few examples will clarify this matter:
On October 17, 2010 Daily Kaler Kantho wrote that the homeless people of Chanondi Union of Hatia Upazilla under Noakhali district are having trouble with the forest criminals and pirates of that area. Whatever they get from their land the criminals take away from them. If they resist the criminals beat and sometimes kill them. At least eight people were killed by the group from last Wednesday to last Saturday. When asked, the UNO office and Police Station agreed with the matter but they did not agree with the killing and missing of people. The UNO also said that he would tell the Police to do necessary steps. Nobody will find any sign of accountability from either the UNO or the Police. If the victim people were aware of their rights and the rule of law they would form a strong group and raise their voice against insufficient support from the authority. In that case the UNO office and the Police would take necessary steps. They would never remain inactive as there would be no financial profit because their delay would motivate the aware people to start strong protest against them which would finally take attention of the government. Basic knowledge about the rules of law, human rights and peaceful steps thus give the deprived people solution of their problem.
Published on “The Daily Kaler Kantha”on October 17, 2010. Page-24, Column-02
But what is the present scenario? The victims do not know their rights, the law and they can’t even start a peaceful protest. Why? Because, they did not get that education. They might know simple addition and multiplication rule of mathematics, they might know the history of the liberation war of Bangladesh, they might even know some English words but this knowledge will not make them aware of their rights and help them raising their voice in an illegal situation. This awareness will come through the study of law and constitution.
Beneficiary: The poor only?
The inclusion of “Law and Constitution” in the primary and secondary education system will help the country as a whole but the process will be two-ways.
1. Upgrading the quality of the middle class
2. Creating awareness among the poor people
Upgrading the quality of the middle class:
The more the middle class is strong, the more the country is developed. The culture, history and the origin of a country and its people are reflected mainly by the middle class society. The government may be run by top class persons, the economy may be based on free market concept but it is the middle class that will work for the country. The use of talent in education is basically seen by the children of the middle class families. They spread the light of education and research. There is no doubt that the percentage of students in all sectors of education from the middle class families is the highest in every country. If these students know the law and constitution their power of thinking will increase. They will start to observe everything with logics and will express their different point of views in important issues that may be crucial in decision making process. Their logical expression will create awareness and develop a standard automatically. We often talk about the change of the system. This is the process of changing a system by the demand of time and setting up a new standard of performing job and ensuring accountability.
Creating awareness among the poor people:
It is already discussed that how the knowledge of “Law and Constitution” can help the poor people. But, what about the awareness? Can it be created in a week or in a month or in a year? Definitely not. It requires a long time to create awareness among the people and it can be done when they have their time only for knowing things. This is called the period for education. If the children of the poor people start to know the law and constitution gradually as a general subject they will be able to explore it. Their concept will grow and awareness will be created.
So, we can say that the inclusion of “Law and Constitution” in the education system will largely benefit the country. Though the upper class society will be benefited too but the benefit of the middle class and the lower class society is vital.
A Lift from the Government
We can consider this process an input from the government in the mechanism of the country. We often see the government passing new laws and regulations when a new sort of problem comes forward or some sort of reform is required. In our country the lack of accountability is a serious problem and we can consider it the main reason of corruption. As passing laws will only increase the number of laws rather than ensuring accountability, so the government must do something that the concept of accountability lies in the mechanism of the country. By putting “Law and Constitution” in the primary and secondary education system the government will be able to place the constitution in the complete pack of education. When a concept lies in the society you have nothing to ensure it. Rather, it will work automatically. We can compare it with bribery in our society. A police case means that you must have to give bribe. When go to the police station you automatically understand that now you have to pay money. Replace bribery with accountability. Now you don’t have to ensure it. It will work automatically.
Including “Law and Constitution” in the general education system will not require the change of the structure of education but it will require time and money.
Ensuring accountability means you must have to answer for whatever you do. We all know answering a question is not an easy task. That is why corruption can be reduced if accountability is ensured. The corruption is done surrounding the poor people basically because they don’t have the power of money to take an action against the corruption. Here, accountability is the only weapon that the poor people can use by asking. We have seen that the middle class and the upper class society can also be benefited if accountability is ensured. The most important thing is the awareness of the general people about their rights and law and regulation of their country which can be done only the study of law and constitution. So, the government must include “Law and Constitution” as a general subject in primary and secondary education system so that it lies in the mechanism of the system of the country.
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