The country is passing through a series of crises: unbridled corruption, terrorism and killing of political activists and businessmen, sexual harassment and killing of school and college going girls and housewives and so on. Away from politics, economic expectation has turned into economic disappointment as the price hike of all essential items including food items has shattered the lives of the fixed income groups. In rural areas there is desperate poverty and its mainly because of bad politics and uncaring governments. According to 2009 Planning Commission report approximately 20 per cent of the countrys 160 million people are living in extreme poverty. Government effort to eradicate poverty is half hearted and lacking in vigour and meticulous planning. Most of the NGOs working in this line seemingly lack of adequate skill, strategy and experience and have started projects with a business motive. And our experience over the years has made it clear that micro-credit has not played any significant role in alleviating poverty and making people self-reliant. Rhetoric cannot fill the stomach. What the average people does care about is governance, the sort of governance that can make a real difference in their life. The successive governments were unable to provide this. Persons in authority seem to be busy in spreading their party links to grassroots level forgetting or even ignoring the fact that those at the bottom of the layer have failed to eke out a living or manage any type of work to stay afloat. Allow me to cite an example. Just a week before I was riding a rickshaw to cover a small distance from my house and the rickshawpuller I came across immediately after stepping out from my house was a boy, barely 14 years old. Frankly speaking, I had chosen him to have a conversation as to why he had taken up such a grueling job at such a tender age. The boy came from Kurigram. Battered by poverty and deserted by his father after his second marriage, this young boy Nasir along with his sick mother and younger sister moved to Dhaka to eke out a living. The question that looms large in the mind of sensible citizenry as to why Nasir and his likes should be doing such a grueling job at so young an age when he should be in a school learning the Three Rs? Seemingly, the governments since the post liberation days treated education, especially primary education, with contempt and neglect that has made us one of the most illiterate countries of the world. Thats the reason why Nasir and his ilk are pulling rickshaws, grinding stones and bricks, picking food residues and plastics from roadside garbage dumps. Perhaps nowhere in the world you will see children of Nasirs age engaged in such grueling jobs to eke out a living. In light of such a situation the countrys hope of achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) seems to be a very daunting job. Unhappily, Bangladesh has fallen behind UN Summit declaration in 2003 on MDG on eight strategic aspects and it has prepared a wish list to achieve the target by 2015. The wish list includes bringing down the percentage of people earning less than a dollar per day to half the present number and increasing enrolment of primary education to hundred per cent, among others. Despite the fact that the report card about enrolment of primary schooling is quite reassuring at least on paper : enrolment has scaled up from 73% to 82% in recent time and literacy rate up to class v climbed to 80%, the actual picture is still very depressing, especially the male / female schooling ratio remains abysmally disproportionate at 64 : 36. There is something sickening about Bangladesh going into the 21st century although with ambitious projects to achieve MDG, but also with the largest number of hungry and illiterate people. With child malnutrition still remaining the highest in the global perspective and 35 lakh children in the age group 05 -06 not going to school, as an NGO study reveals, Bangladesh will face really a daunting task to achieve the second target of the MDG. Sensible citizenry feel distressed as they see a report published in a Bangla daily in recent time that suggests that the government is going to purchase one VIP car in each district costing about 41 lakh taka to be used by the ministers and high dignitaries as and when they visit these district towns. It is time to think if we can afford such unnecessary luxury. Without mounting aggressive agricultural revolution oriented to increase the agricultural production in a land-scarce country as well as building an infrastructure for industrial base, poverty eradication programme will remain a distant dream. On the other hand, no effort in eliminating poverty or empowerment can yield dividend without literacy. The visible scenario in the primary schooling is: dilapidated schools, de-motivated teachers, irresponsible management and powerless parents a vicious cycle where hopelessness breeds further hopelessness. But it has been agreed by all that literacy is the key to development, population control, healthcare and jobs. Government statistics say that there is an increase in literacy rates but it is so slow and non-visible that the absolute numbers keep on rising every year. In fact, the quality of our rural schools does not inspire much hope. In most schools, the headmaster is not watchful about what the teachers are doing, moreover in many cases the headmaster and teachers lack the knowledge, skill, motivation, personality and zeal to inspire a student towards acquiring a spirit to learn. Coupled with these the ludicrous content of the text books that are most unappealing and uninspiring has made the primary schooling just messy and futile exercise. Corruption has invaded the very fabric of our nation with education sector becoming the latest victim. Even when the finance minister in a recent press briefing commented that corruption continues to be the biggest impediment to development vis-a-vis poverty elimination programme, precious little has been done to root out this malaise from different tiers of administration during the last 18 months. Presumably, the PMO (Prime Ministers Office) cant remain oblivious of the reports of scam, corruption and stunning apathy appearing in the press in pursuing development works. Shocking lapses of the agencies concerned and unforgivable bad governance during the past regime now see Bangladesh sliding into a distress zone. With some honourable exceptions, most of the high-ups in the highest seat of the government seem to do little more than push files, cut ribbons and do other meaningless things usually at the behest of their officials. If there is anything that the bureaucrats in the country fear, it is change. They think and they are probably right that speeding up governance or bringing in more people-friendly methods will reduce their powers. Changes hence happen only when they are forced through by politicians. But we need changes to alleviate poverty, politicians must make it happen. The writer is a former teacher of physics and Controller of Examinations, BUET The Daily Star