Awami League-led 14-party grand alliance is going to form the government for the third consecutive term as the party won the 11th national election by absolute majority, bagging 288 seats according to results unofficially announced. This is a massive setback for the opposition Jatiya Oikya Front as it won only seven seats.
However, the results could mar the taste of victory in the coming days if AL fails to meet the demands of the general mass. AL is the party who liberated people of this country from the oppression of Pakistan. Therefore, people always expect much from this government.
AL should pay attention to one vital point—there will be no effective opposition in the parliament, to be frank. But an opposition`s role is vital for the parliamentary form of government as it questions the government and holds them accountable to the public. It aggregates the interests of the political community and keeps the government on its toe. In a nutshell, the opposition represents an alternative government.
More than 1.5 core population of Bangladesh represents the youth force who has great potential to contribute to the development of the country. The new government of Sheikh Hasina will have to reevaluate the recent incidents of quota reform and students’ safe road movements as it may turn perilous for the government in the future. The dissatisfaction of the youth force of the country is growing more and more as their interests and problems are overlooked sometimes by the policymakers. The government must reduce its distance with the youth by listening to their demands, creating more job opportunities and take initiatives to lay out a close symmetry between the government and non-government jobs. Otherwise, the young graduates and undergraduates of the country will continue to be exploited by the big corporations.
The health system of Bangladesh depends too much on the government or the public sector for financing and setting overall policies and service delivery mechanisms. Although the health system is faced with many intractable challenges, it seems to receive little priority in terms of national resource allocation. According to the World Health Organization (WHO 2014), only about 2.8% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is spent on health services. However, the total expenditure on health was almost 3% of the GDP in 2013. Clearly, the health sector of Bangladesh is not drawing the attention of the government as it should.
The cost of availing health services here in Bangladesh sometimes exceeds the cost a person requires in Singapore. Of course, it is not true in all circumstances. But, compared to the quality and cost of our neighboring country India’s health services, the cost is too high here in Bangladesh. Moreover, there are other problems such as lack of public health facilities, scarcity of skilled workforce, inadequate financial resource allocation and political instability. Despite these challenges and the multifaceted health system, Bangladesh has demonstrated much progress in achieving the health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) especially MDG 4 and MDG 5. What the country needs is a comprehensive health policy to strengthen the entire health system.
Bangladesh is undoubtedly improving statistically in the literacy rate as it rose remarkably over the past decade to an all-time high of 72.76% in 2016, according to data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS). However, the concern remains in quality education. The 2017 statistics show that the literacy rate of population aged between 15 to 24 years is 92.95% (male 91.54%, female 94.38%). The improved literacy rate of the female population of Bangladesh is really praiseworthy. These figures can please anyone by the looks of it. But upon deeper reflection on these satisfying figures, some disappointing facts mar the achievement of education. The first complaint is with the quality of education as it has failed to enable around 70% of children to read and write properly or perform mathematical calculations even after receiving primary education for five years. Lack of qualified teachers and poor school facilities in terms of the number of schools, classrooms, libraries, and playgrounds are responsible for poor quality education at primary schools.
Except for an insignificant number, the university students are not interested in contributing to developing knowledge in a field or study, thus doing research on a subject to inform action or to prove a theory of their own. Therefore, one would not be wrong if he/she says that our education sector is more interested in `production` than developing its different fields.
Finally comes the political challenge that this government is going to face. Mostly, it will come from overseas countries. This election must earn international acceptability first. After this, the government must concentrate on some areas. One of those is the allegation of showing an authoritarian attitude towards its people. In some cases, the government goes hard on those who protest or raise voice against it. A government should never forget that it was elected by the people; therefore, it must listen to the people first and then take the initiative.
Besides earning recognition for development, it has earned respect from all over the world for curbing extremism from the country. Moreover, it is time Bangladesh learned to participate in the geopolitics. The United States, as well as other western forces, is very inclined to take advantage of our situation. The AL-led government must remain connected with its people to fight against the outer force as no force can defeat the government if the people are with it.