Parliamentary Election Campaigns in Bangladesh Schools
Reported from our PRODIP field office by Sumana Mahmud
The Promoting Democratic Institutions and Practices (PRODIP) project has implemented a pilot `Parliament in Schools Program’ in three schools in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The program is designed to provide students with both theoretical and practical knowledge of their democratic rights and the political process in Bangladesh.
Well before they are eligible to cast their vote in the national election, students are experiencing the democratic election process in their schools. Students run for office while their peers particpate by voting for their preferred candidate. After a week-long election campaign, the winning parties form a Government.
This unique demonstration of a national election has been held in two well-known schools in Dhaka, Udayan High School and College and Mirpur Girls Ideal Laboratory Institute.
PRODIP provided technical and logistical support for the campaigns as a part of a pilot program in which 14-17 year old students read a Booklet prepared by PRODIP about parliamentary democracy in Bangladesh and visited Parliament where they discussed specific issues of interest with a panel of MPs. Now, after their school elections, they will prepare themselves for a Mock Parliament debate where they will discuss their election agenda in parliamentary style.
While conducting election campaigns on their school campus, students made election materials including posters, logos, caps etc. The posters were almost as professional as the posters of the national and other elections held in the country. One significant difference was that no poster for the schools election had any sign of political polarization. The students very enthusiastically used their materials for their campaigns.
PRODIP provided support to select teachers in the schools with necessary lesson preparation for the election. Students came up with election issues regarding the development and improvement of their school. Issues such as the regular arrangement of sports competitions and tournaments and the establishment of a canteen on the school premises to provide students with healthy foods at reasonable costs became the focus of debate.
The election campaigns have had a great impact on the students in and out of school and have created a huge demand and interest among the students, teachers, guardians, and Honorable MPs in Parliament. Students who were not involved in the program are now asking to become involved in the PRODIP program while requests are coming from MPs to include their constituency schools in the program.
Posted July 29, 2013