Lack of basic legal awareness in the contemporary education curriculum
Just as it is of utmost importance for a building to have a strong foundation to hold the structure above it and keep it upright, similarly, it is also important that citizens have strong basic knowledge on law from a very early age
One of the most important and popular maxims of the legal jurisprudence, in Latin, is 'Ignorantia juris non excusat' or 'ignorantia legis neminem excusat' which means, 'ignorance of law excuses no one'. It is a legal principle holding that a person who is unaware of a law may not escape liability for violating that law merely because one was unaware of its content. Anyone charged with criminal offenses or civil lawsuits would otherwise claim that they were unaware of the law even if that person actually knew what the law in question is.
It is impossible for anyone, even with substantial legal training, to be aware of every law in operation in every aspect of a state's activities. However, for every citizen of a country knowing something is better than knowing nothing since ignorance is not an excuse, and wilful blindness cannot become the basis of exculpation. Therefore, it might be a great initiative to introduce the 'basic' laws, having application in our regular life in society, into our conventional education system from an early stage.
For instance, there are several general areas of laws which may be introduced in the syllabus and studied, such as, the 'Fundamental Human Rights' as mentioned in the Constitution of Bangladesh, would help in understanding the basic rights of every individual as a citizen of Bangladesh and creating awareness if violated or prejudiced.
The laws relating to 'road safety', 'transport' and 'traffic law' would also help maintain traffic rules and regulation and decrease accidents or negligence. Along the same line, the laws relating to 'internet crime', 'digital security', and right use of social media and social platforms would help to ensure considerable decline in juvenile crimes committed through social media and will increase responsible use of the internet.
The knowledge of basic 'criminal laws' such as cheating, rape, theft, dacoity, sedition, kidnapping, etc. and their 'penalties' will help to understand the gravity of seriousness of a crime and the magnitude of punishment applied; the 'dowry prohibition' law, the 'narcotics' and 'drugs' law, the 'prohibition of oppression against women and children' law, 'anti- terrorism' laws etc. are the laws that will assist in sustaining and forming the morale of the children and young generation in the learning process and therefore will increase positive community involvement in the society and even make 'administration' easy at national level.
These daily general laws may be included in the syllabus of primary education, such as from grade 5 to 8 till secondary (S.S.C/O-Level) and higher (H.S.C) education (British education known as A-Level already has the subject 'law' in their curriculum).
This is because, just as it is of utmost importance for a building to have a strong foundation to hold the structure above it and keep it upright, similarly, it is also important that citizens have strong basic knowledge on law from a very early age.
There is no field of studies that does not have some nexus to legal obligation, be that science, technology, business or social science. Therefore, there should be some elementary courses in every department of the university as per their respective subject's ambit. This may make the professionals more aware about their legal rights and obligations.
Education is the backbone of a society, and law is what a society is guided by. Therefore, if students are aware of their rights and sense of duty towards society, so will be their parents and vice-versa.
Md. Mahmudul Islam Shakil is an apprentice lawyer at Dhaka Bar and chief coordinator at 'Governance Challenge'.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of The Business Standard.