Jahangir Nagar University, the only fully-fledged residential university stresses its campus on the beautiful lap of nature decorated with lakes, green foliage of trees and little hills and with seasonal guest birds. The pupils prefer this university not only for its anodyne beauty but also because of its standing at a reasonable distance from the din and bustle of the city but regular transport connection has made many facilities of city available to the campus insiders. The most significant feature is its residential facility which also attracts peoples’ attention. I had been the student of this beautiful campus. It has now plunged into a deep crisis as a group of teachers continued demonstrations to press for resignation of VC Professor Anwar Hossain, hemming him in his office for two days. The teachers went on the two-day strike on the campus apparently in defiance of a High Court order not to obstruct administrative activities.
The agitating teachers under the banner of ‘ Sadharan Shikkhak Forum’ also called all-out strike for August 24, 25, 26 while the existing confinement of the VC will continue. The request of the Education Minister has just made them stop this demonstration for two weeks. 370 teachers singed on statement leveling charges against VC. The charges include– no trial of the assault on teachers, freedom fighters quota violation, recruitment of incompetent people as teachers, harsh comments against teachers to the media, no steps regarding the violence that took place on August on 01, and February 12, ruining the campus environment, misusing the university funds, forcibly entering VC’s office by ignoring the demonstration of teachers. Are these teachers not aware of the fact that VC has virtually nothing to do with the care students and if they belong to government party? Not only VCs but also the teachers of our public universities have lost that stature of moral and academic power many years back. Teachers are recruited on the basis of party leaning who run after administrative post giving salute to academic activities and research. When a clash of interest arises, they go for demonstration at the cost of students’ valuable academic year loss.
VC Anwar Hossain has reiterated that he will not resign from his post. He says ‘ I sought the chancellor’s intervention in the incident. I am the elected VC and president has appointed me. If he wants, I will resign.” When teachers do not want you, how can you expect to remain in the post sounds very illogical? The agitating teachers ‘ platform said, “Our allegations are logical and for the welfare of the university we are continuing our demonstration. We will stay here until the VC resigns.” Whatever logical their demands are, it looks very odd to see that the teachers are hemming the VC outside his office just like cadre students? You have not set any good example before the students and nation. Neither your intentions proves honest. The honest duty of the teachers is to conduct classes, research and other academic activities. You have virtually lost the right to give any advice to the students and nation. I cannot believe myself that the teachers are staying outside the office of the VC just like the cadre students who try to keep their rooms illegally occupied for their party activities and the opponent are not allowed there. The print and electronic media frequently show this nasty picture. Necessarily the question arises, don’t the teachers who have been obstructing the VC from going outside the office have the classes and other duties? What will they gain if the VC resigns? The examples they have set before the students and nation retain a very grim and frustrating sign. You played the same game with Professor Sharif Enamul. You are playing the game again with Professor Anwar. Who will come to grace the chair of VC? You all have vitiated the honour of the chair. Now, nobody will feel easy to occupy that chair. You or your group will continue playing the same game with the incumbent VC as you all are involved in direct politics. Your game does not hold the right to kill the academic years of the students.
Professor Anwar Hossain of Dhaka University was appointed as Jahangir Nagar University VC on May 20, 2012 following the resignation of VC Professor Sharif Enamul Kbair in the face of strong student-teacher movement over the killing of BCL leader Jubaier. This memory is still fresh in our minds. We hoped that the volatile situation will improve and the university witnesses sound academic atmosphere but our hope proves reverse. Anwar has been staying in his office and having homemade foods. A physician has been kept all time for his health check-up. How odd it looks! VC demanded that the government set up a judicial probe team to find out whether the teachers are justified in demanding his resignation.
Because of teachers movement, students of twenty departments have been forced to face prolonged academic session by six months to a year. There are six hundred teachers in the university and among them about four hundred have directly given statement against the VC. “Only AL-supported five, left leaning twelve supporter of the VC are standing beside him.” says Samsul Alam, professor- government and politics department, in this article in the Prothom Alo on August 24 titled “VC’s resignation is the only solution”. He has also highlighted that Showmanship ‘ mentality of the VC spent a lot of money in the unproductive sector and spent much money on campus beautification. The writer says that it does not promote education and research. Actually, VC’s campus beautification program does not call for criticism. Definitely, it is part of his duty.
As a result, of frequent unrest and demonstrations, the JU students have been greatly suffered by the curse of serious session jam. The agitating teachers’ narrow individual interest and battle for power are the reasons behind dodging their classes and occupying the battleground in the peaceful campus. University teachers should not nakedly indulge themselves in narrow politics of power and privileges. Situation is getting worse day by day. Students must not be made hostage by the teachers to realize any demand. The university remains in the grip of government party cadre students all the year round at the cost of general students’ academic year loss. They general students are to live in the university campuses just the deer that live in the Sunderbans always in fear of the tigers. Now, another point has added to it. Teachers’ demonstration, teachers’ movement and confrontation- where the general students go? Who will save the university? Are the government cadres or the teachers? When the teachers play the same role, where shall we place our trust?
We urge the present government and the future government not to interfere in the educational institutions ranging from primary to university level. Your interference actually gives you nothing. May be a temporary gain but its loss is several time greater than the gain.
MASUM BILLAH: Program Manager, BRAC Education Program, Brac and Vice-President, Bangladesh English Language Teachers Association (BELTA), Dhaka, Bangladesh.