Dhaka University Must Retain Its Glory and Prove Centre of Excellence

Dhaka University
Dhaka University
Masum Billah
Written by Masum Billah

Our glorious Dhaka University which produced many scholars, statesmen, diplomats, scientists, educationists and bureaucrats observed its 90th birth anniversary on July 01, 2011. It has witnessed many upheavals and significant historical events. Many distinguished scholars who have enriched the global pool of knowledge by making notable contributions in the fields of teaching and research have been working here as faculties since its inception. The birth of Bangladesh owes much to the movement and contributions of this Oxford of the East but with the passage of time, this Oxford has failed to retain its past glory which makes us further concerned when we learn that in the global ranking of universities this prestigious institution finds itself miles behind. Political chaos mainly can be attributed to its devaluation.

To appease the people for annulling the partition plan of Bengal in 1906, Dhaka University was established in 1921  and the door of higher education got opened for the middle-class Muslims and witnessed a series of protests and swallowed a lot of criticisms from the elite Hindus. Kolkata University authorizes also showed unwillingness to establish a university for fear of their being degraded. How the Hindu elites looked at DU can easily be guessed from the writing of Prof. Mannan, the ex-student of DU and former Vice-Chancellor of CU. He has written “ It was started in the old building of Dhaka College and the education Hindu elites criticized  Dhaka University as ‘ Mecca University, Fucca (Hollow) University and expressed that ‘ a good college ( Dhaka College)  was killed to create bad university ( daily sun by Abdul Mannan ).

The university started with three faculties, twelve teaching departments, sixty teachers, eight hundred forty-seven students and three residential halls. Today the university boasts of having 320000 pupils 13 faculties, 60 departments, 9 institutes, 34 research centres, 18 residential halls and two hostels. Every year the university enrols 5800 students. 842 PhD and 673 M.Phil researchers have been produced by the university. But ‘the guns and goons reside in residential halls along with innocent students’ has faded the glory and stuck a mark of black spot. Today the university is immune from religious discrimination and many Hindu scholars have taught here enlightening the lamp of education.

Student and teacher politics reign supreme in these highest seats of learning of the country. Not only the learners but also the teachers have left the book for other things assuming a changed shape and scenario. Professor Anwar Hossain (a professor of DU and editor of the daily sun) conducted a survey /research in 1987 on the teachers of using their university library brings out a grim picture. He wanted to find the number of teachers using the library.  Out of 952 teachers, only 287 had library cards. It is mandatory for a university teacher to write /research and publish books and professional papers as he scales the ladder of his career from a lecture through professor”. It does not mean that they browsed the internet to find educational materials and get logged on to world libraries as the time the professor has mentioned did not witness the easy flow of browsing and using the internet. It was the major means of a teacher to exercise his/her professional career visiting libraries and using books and journals in the library. But the picture shows a very depressing one. Nearly thirty per cent of teachers used the library. The situation has further aggravated now though no such initiative or survey has been conducted.

‘A university has a threefold function. To impart knowledge (through teaching), to create and disseminate knowledge (through research) and for which a university needs to be staffed with world-class teachers. But the recruiting of teachers has seen a politicized means and a very traditional system.  Dhaka is the capital of Bangladesh and DU is the capital of the capital. Cultural activities of the country have been happening to centre the DU from the beginning’ –Prof. Hmaiduzzaman Khan, Chairman of Sculpture department has rightly said. Now the place of cultural activities have been occupied by the chase, counter chase, cocktail and exchange of fires. The gunmen, hockey- stickmen roam on the campus instead of the cultural people. Can we afford to watch this scenario any more when we have been ranked nowhere in the global ranking? The first VC of DU P.J. Hartog said “A man may be an excellent teacher of elementary subjects without the power to add to knowledge.

But in the advanced world, I maintain that no one can really teach well unless he has the combination  of imagination with critical power which helps to the original production ( of knowledge) and for that if, for other reason, a university to be a true  university must  see that its  teachers  are men who are also capable of advancing  knowledge.” The present VC Prof. Dr. AAMS Arefin Siddique says “Students of our generation were broad-minded and more patriotic than the present generation though there are many meritorious students now. Actually, the present generation has to face a competitive world where they are being forced to take the first position in every sector what makes them self-centric. On the other hand, we have had enough time for recreations and we kept us busy with cultural activities which made our generation broad-minded. It is a fact that textbooks and certificate centric education cannot enlighten people Students who will lead the nation in future are engaging themselves in politics to get immediate benefits nowadays. They don’t think about morality. “He has rightly pointed out the facts and figures but what is the solution? Can the nation see any candle of light at the tunnel?

When we think of DU we visualize processions of pictures related to political agitations in front of Arts Faculty or chase and counter chase with two student wings or strike for not opening the doors of classes or burning cars or processions after processions parading the whole campus killing the environment of giving attention to study and class. Both the print and electronic media flash with significance the names and activities of the cadres and students leaders. Who know the famous professors who spend most of their time in research and pursuit of knowledge? Who bothers who have obtained first class or done excellent results?

The country and media know the student leaders and their ferocity are considered as heroic deeds. The country and media highlight and know the Nationalist or AL professors who occupy the administrative positions of the university or state-run organizations or institutions. Students spend hour after hour in Madhu’s canteen leaving classes and books and assignments because the dreams of a luxurious future and fat amount are beckoning them. What the books, classes and thesis will give them? Comparing to the material gains of the student leaders at present and future, the gain of the dedicated students prove almost nothing. So, why students and teachers glue themselves to learning and teaching? Should we allow this situation in the University of Dhaka which bears testimony to the significant historical events of our dearest motherland?

About the author

Masum Billah

Masum Billah

Masum Billah works as an Education Expert in the BRAC Education Program, BRAC, and President of the English Teachers' Association of Bangladesh (ETAB), Dhaka, Bangladesh.

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