Do any of you happen to know any schoolteacher, specifically a primary school teacher in Bangladesh? If you happen to meet them you will know how busy they have been lately. Teaching jobs in government schools esp. in rural schools are high-pressure jobs these days. The teachers are now constantly and meticulously supervised by donor agencies as well as the government, and in addition to teaching responsibilities they are now burdened with a plethora of housekeeping jobs including data entry, chart making, reporting etc.

These teachers are the government’s hands in making the voter lists and conducting election. Yes we have thanked our armed forces day in day out for help with electoral roll. But our teachers build the basic building bloc of this list. And they did it without any additional cost to our exchequer. These teachers are the ones who have gone house to house, in the remotest of the villages, in a muddy rainy day, in humid sunshine, in bone chilling cold to enroll voters and convince them to go to the photo booth. I know they have walked hours after hours to the remote voters. Then there are all the social issues they face. All the complaints against government, politicians and everything in the country– these poor voter list workers had to listen too. I know of one teacher, sister of a friend, who used to get on average seven marriage proposal/marriage related inquiries a day.

And these teachers comprise 95% of government’s work force in conducting the election. They will work as the polling and presiding officers, the real persons responsible for helping the nation caste their ballots. While rest of the citizenry keeps safe distance from violence prone polling centers, these polling/presiding officers cannot afford keep a safe distance. These are the people who have to brace the storm if rigging; ballot stuffing goes on in a center. They have to face angry candidates, agents, as well as government high ups.

My mother was a schoolteacher when I was a little kid. I remember we did not like election days, as our mother would not return home until very late at night.

On this Election Day, lets pay homage to these unsung heroes.