A series of incidents has taken place in almost all the higher seats of learning in the country along with surfacing some different problems in the secondary and higher secondary levels. All these originate from political games. The hot exchange of words took place in a meeting of JU when a teacher of the pro-vice chancellor faction demanded the resignation of teachers’ body president. As Prof Mamun, the president of the body, was leaving after suspending the meeting, the proctor swooped on him and pounced on him. After the incident at least, 100 teachers led by the JU Teacher Association president staged a demonstration before the VC’s office demanding the removal and punishment of the proctor. The situation at JU has been tense since then and it originated following the killing of a student of English department by a Chatra League faction, known as ‘VC group. To make matters worse, the proctor assaulted the president of the JU Teacher Association. At Jagannath University students have been agitating against a fee hike, thereby incurring the wrath of BCL. In Sylhet classes at Shahjalal University were suspended following overnight clashes between the activities of BCL and Islami Chatra Shibir. When the universities stand hundreds of miles away from world-ranking, our learners continue creating turmoil in the campus; university teachers and teacher associations are engaged in tug of war. Fighting, scuffling and throwing filthy words, no research for knowledge, only political activities figure significantly in all the university campuses. Where this turmoil will lead us to? For God’s sake all concerned must have a consensus to stop once and for all political games in the universities. We are losing everything. We cannot afford to spend more time.
Academics have attributed the incident of JU to moral degradation of teachers. Terming the incident unfortunate they also blamed politicization of public universities and power exercise by a section of teachers and lack of transparency. UGC Chairman, A.K Azad Chowdhury said, “What will happen in future of the nation if teachers whose responsibility is to build enlightened people live in the dark?” Professor Anu Mohammad of JU said, “Such incident will send a message to the nation that the public universities are not running properly and the university administration is involved in hooliganism.” The corrupt politics of the country is corrupting the innocent, promising and young pupils of the public universities. Only a few students gain financially who at the ruination of many students’ carrier and causing serious hell to the lives of thousands of students. Educational institutions are the suppliers of well, honest and capable citizens of the country and create leaders and other important professionals. When universities are made hot-bed of nasty politics how can we expect better citizens to run the state administration? Shouldn’t we follow the examples of established universities of the world? Do we see the chiefs or VCs or Rectors are the members of a political party as we see in Bangladesh? Why don’t we follow their examples? Student wing should organize cultural competitions, games and sports, social activities, service-learning, not political games. “When Jahangir Nagar University started in 1970 almost 90 percent teachers were with academic background from rural institutions. But situation has changed now drastically as around 80 percent teachers are city-based institutions highlighting alarming difference between rural and urban divide.” Ex-VC of JU Prof. Khandker, Mustahidur Rahman said. Rural based teachers are not coming to the universities and the serious moral degradation has occupied the minds of teachers.
The masses of common students who come to study English in the general universities come with less than average grasp of the language. They throng the department basically to improve their language skills, but eventually they neither benefit nor feel motivated. They are left, most of them, with nothing but frustration and disgruntlement. Since seventies communicative approach to teaching, English has been in vogue along with other methodologies and stratagems. Eight years of leaning at the primary and secondary stages where communicative approach is in use fails develop any proficiency in English. With this poor knowledge they come to the university proving far behind the global standard. Student leaders never talk about this fact nor do they ask for its remedy.
Serious irregularities in the secondary educational institutions have surfaced in another form. Campaign for Popular Education ( CAMPE) a watchdog in education finds that in collaboration with the private educational institutions in the country are not following the government instruction in collecting fees for admission of the students. Journalists Golam Mortuza moderated the session while the former adviser to the caretaker government and executive director of CAMPE Rasheda K. Chowdhury was in the chair. Expressing dissatisfaction over realizing extra money from the students by a good number of schools in the city and elsewhere in the country the education minister said that the government had already formed a probe committee to investigate into allegations if any institutions found indulged in such irregularities would be seriously dealt with. How he will do it remains a big question as the political leaders and MPs are controlling the institutions?
“The schools that collected extra money must refund it or adjust it with the next year’s admission”—education minister.“ Most of the non-government schools in the city have charged extra money ranging from taka 10,000 to 15,000 from students in the name of session fee and every year they are increasing their monthly tuition fees.” Some guardians commented. Some papers have also revealed another grim fact that the committee members of these schools share the money collected from the guardians in the name of different charges. As the people have a perception that around 400-500 government and non-government schools in the country including the capital provide quality education, most of the guardians try to get their wards admitted to those institutions creating an unethical competition. Time is ripe enough to establish more quality schools and colleges both in the private and public sectors. Again, the uniform distribution of these institutions can reduce the mad rush and competition among the guardians to get their wards admitted into the handful of so-called famous institutions. Students, guardians and teachers have also pinpointed two other aspects that could improve the scenario: appointing qualified teachers and proper patronage to the educational institutions by the authorities concerned. To attract quality candidates to teaching the controlling of the educational institutions by the MPs or local political leaders must be severed once and for all. The sooner we can do it, the better.
Writer: Program Manager: BRAC Education Program PACE, BRAC, Dhaka, Bangladesh.