Examining the alarming suicide trends in Bangladesh

Siam Sarower Jamil | Published: 00:00, Jun 14,2020 | Updated: 03:15, Jun 14,2020

Siam Sarower Jamil, suicide trends in Bangladesh

After the announcement of the secondary school certificate examinations results on May 31, at least eight students have committed suicide because of not being able to achieve desired results. Siam Sarower Jamil tries to find an answer

THE results of the secondary school certificate examinations were recently published on May 31. At least eight students across the country committed suicide on the day of the results. I do not know why people are not talking about it much.

It came to my mind when my younger sister told that she was often bullied at school by her teachers. The teachers told her, ‘your elder brother was very talented. Why is your result like this? You are nothing to your brother’s talent.’ I looked at her face for a while and get astonished. Why would a younger sister be told these because of her elder brother?

In school, not just these teachers, most of the teachers, sometimes most of the parents often tell other parents the difference between two siblings, ‘Your son is good at studying. But your daughter is very weak! Why cannot she do well? Why does not she follow her brother?’ Though it is not about all the parents but most of them are doing it. It was not just with this girl; I think many have faced this too.

I want to say something to those teachers who think that as a teacher, s/he can do such things with their students. Tell them, it is a very wrong thing to do. Teachers are the guide to the students. Whatever you say, the whole classroom accepts that. So when you disrespect a student or compare it this way, the entire classroom learns to compare. When you leave the classroom, they taunt each other with the words you say.

When you will became a teacher, assuming you got enough education, it should be understood that not every human being has the same thinking and understanding. There is no similar brain cell. Not the same behaviour. Everyone’s thinking is different. The genre of work is different.

When you will become a teacher, when you will teach comparisons, you will spread negative impact among young students. Because of your behaviour, they will learn to hate their siblings or friends. Learn to humiliate and will be humiliated. They will lose their confidence and move towards suicide.

A study by the Bangladesh Child Rights Forum says that the trend of suicide among teenagers and children is increasing in the country. At least 293 children committed suicide in 2018. In 2017, the number was 213. The tendency for children to commit suicide has risen by 5.7 per cent. According to the report, most of the reasons for the suicide of children are family feud and failure in exams.

Teenagers tend to be more emotional. Feelings of happiness, sadness, and anger at the very least are typical of adolescents. Lack of family support after failing the test, harsh words and pressures from neighbours, relatives, and classmates are also among the major causes.

Ten-graders took the school closing test from age 14 to 18 years old usually. The completion of the exam is at the national level. The merit verification is done with various grades, the highest of which is GPA-5. They have less opportunity to involve in sports activities in their academic lives. Moreover, students are pushed into a competition.

At a young age, they should play. The interest in sports at this age is high in their hearts. Taking part in such a large test together and producing good results in it is a huge stress factor at this age. The question of how much such an examination method is needed is a long time debate.

Education should be something where one learns things, practices, talks with friends about the subject, and really gains knowledge. But, some students just prepare for the exam after reading guide books by memorising scripts. The educational institute pressures the students to do good results. And that happens to get state support.

How is it possible to identify someone’s suicidal tendencies? What is the government’s planning? Intellectual verification through the grading method has had the biggest negative impact. In many countries, this age is an assessment of how many skills they have achieved. That is being done through two tests. With that in mind, this method was introduced. But we have made this method compatible. A side effect of the grading method is that parents also put pressure on their children for good score. Now with the change in the grading system, this method is being re-imagined.

There are many experts all over the world in determining the knowledge and strategies of providing education. They are constantly researching on how the students will benefit the most by providing education or in what way they should introduce their intellectual evaluation and test methods. New concepts of education are emerging day by day.

One such method in the developed world is kindergarten. The basic idea of the German word for education is ‘to teach the game’. That is if you want to teach the name of the fruit, the name of the flower, take it to the garden or go to the zoo to teach the names of the animals. In almost all the developed world, there is no formal examination at the primary level nowadays. There is no rat race to be first-second-third. What follows is a comprehensive assessment. An overall assessment of not just the test number, its nature, character, likes, dislikes, weaknesses, vigour, health or mental maturity.

But our country is going in the opposite direction. The former education minister introduced two tests namely PEC and JSC during the last term of governance — for those who are considered to be children, by definition of age. He then announced that he had done a radical act in the education of the country. Was the expert consulted before making such a decision?

We often forget that our place in this world is for a certain period of time, divided into several parts: childhood, adolescence, youth and old age. When childhood is over, it will no longer be available. Childhood play and sports — all of these are a child's right to enjoy. There are several schools without playgrounds, particularly in Dhaka city.

In this ‘lifeless’ city, the only source of entertainment is video game or computer. Loneliness and depression are affecting many at this age.

Actually, where is the problem? The authorities have to find out the problems in the education system and have to take proper measures towards the solution. I urge the authorities to take initiative, at least, to arrange playgrounds for children in all the schools of the country including Dhaka. I am sure the authorities know clearly, how important it is for a healthy, strong and truly talented next generation.

Siam Sarower Jamil is a young journalist and writer.

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