Recently the University Grants Commission or UGC has conducted a survey on our five public universities. It has revealed the findings which really tend to make us worried. The survey covered the University of Dhaka, Khulna University, Rajshahi University and Bangladesh Agricultural University. The survey was conducted on 2 hundred and 50 teachers. The first finding tells us that depressingly low standard teaching is going on in these universities. A large number of academics cannot satisfy the needs of the students because of their poor performance. They don’t actually deserve to be teachers of the highest seats of learning.
The survey says that twenty-eight per cent of teachers are observed to be extremely poor in teaching. The question arises how do they embrace the job of these national institutions. Teaching in the university is not a plaything. They must be not only all-rounder but also the conscience of the nation. They produce brilliant students who occupy important positions in the state machinery. When most of the teachers of these universities perform poorly, what they will produce for the country? It is not far to seek the reason why some teachers engage themselves in politics in the name of white groups, crimson group etc. keeping away the pursuit of knowledge. It is sad enough to mention that these teachers grease the politicians who never have a brilliant university degree just to occupy an administrative post. These teachers create a discriminatory environment in the class and campus. Should we spread the nasty political touch everywhere? Then where shall we go? Should we leave the place for the corrupt people everywhere? Then what will happen to the nation next?
Conducting quality research and producing good citizens for the country means the main duties of the university teachers. Leaving these two things they colour themselves as the supporter of some particular political parties which neither the students nor guardians and even the civil society don’t see easily that teachers do politics nakedly leaving their principal jobs. What the result they have brought? We are standing hundreds of miles from the global standard of teaching. The UGC has identified that thirteen per cent are not at all concerned with research. Twenty per cent of teachers are doing well in this line. But the research they do hardly reach the global standard. It is also true that the research allocation shows a poor picture in our country. But the editorial of the daily Prothom Alo has raised a valid question whether our university teachers will start conducting a good amount of research in case of increasing the allocation. The room for doubt lies here. We have many examples of increasing the budget but no good results accrue from those projects. We can see the example of our state-run hospitals. The more the budget is raised here, the lower quality of service we can see there.
Questionable means of teacher recruitment has been an open secret for many years. No measure by UGC is taken or even thought of revising it. Political consideration in no way can be given priority in recruiting university teacher. Recruitment must be done fairly. No personal or political favour can be considered. Good academic record, research or genuine publication must be taken into consideration when a university teacher is appointed. It should not be left absolutely on the department or even individual university. Candidates must go through a subtle screening test where personal liking and disliking and party colour will not work. Candidates must sit for an examination and scripts should not bear their name. Scripts must be given a code number and high-quality professors of other universities will grade those scripts. Demonstration class before the national and international professors must be conducted by the candidates. Finally, their research work and publication should be given due weightage. Thus a candidate must go through a series of a screening test to become a university teacher. The present way of appointing teacher must be abandoned once and for all. It never ensures quality.
Good quality teachers are not welcomed by the university authority. It’s a great national disease. Wherever good quality people work sincerely and with full devotion, a vested quarter always tries to expel them by fair means or foul. The game continues in our universities also. A good calibre and sincere university teachers are cornered in the department and in the campus. So, they find their ways to foreign universities where they can conduct their research and can earn a handsome amount. Do we ever give any thought to this matter? If senior teachers see that the brilliant junior teachers are not following them and their ideals they create pressure on them in various ways to leave the job.
As they have the opportunity to go abroad or embrace another job, they leave the university creating an intellectual vacuum in the department. They corrupt teachers spread the theory that ‘nobody is inevitable’. They add that the department will run as usual without the presence of those teachers. Actually, the department does not run as it is supposed to be. Students get deprived of good quality teaching. But the politically motivate and weak teachers encourage the brilliant ones to leave the university so that they can dominate everywhere and everything. We must find medicine for this great national disease. Who will have to start first? The brilliant and research-oriented teachers should come forward.
Many public university teachers take classes in private universities for earning extra money. When some professions allow it, why not university? But there must be some rules and regulations by UGC to be followed by the public university teachers. Many teachers don’t conduct classes regularly in public universities but they don’t miss any class in private university as there lies an answerableness. In the public university, there must be some be accountability. They may not be allowed to conduct any class in the day time. At night they can do so.
Or the teachers may be allowed to take lien for one or two years and serve in a private university. They should not be allowed to continue both. Their facilities and salaries must be increased so that they may not think of earning otherwise. Still, our university teachers don’t enjoy easy transport facilities. If they are to think of financial constraint always, how they will devote themselves to teaching and research? University authorities must arrange good transport facilities for the teachers beginning from assistant professors. Arrangements must be made to make an easy loan for them to buy a car or they can hire university cars easily. The professors must enjoy university transport free or at a minimum rate. In many professions fringe benefits are available but our teachers in the highest seats of learning lead a very poor life. We know Russia imposed restrictions on all kinds of professionals when socialism reigned there.
But it extended unlimited facilities for two groups of people: were university teachers and researchers/ scientists. The nation knows giving opportunities to these peoples means advancing the nation. So, we cannot afford to think of neglecting our university teachers. Teachers must be held in high esteem and their state opportunities and facilities must be commensurate to their status. A young army officer enjoys many facilities from their department but a university teacher of the same or even upper rank doesn’t see any good opportunity except the fixed amount of salary. This situation discourages brilliant candidates to come to teaching. Still, we don’t show any concern about the matter.
We urge the UGC to conduct the same survey on other public universities as well as private universities as the private universities are the significant players in the field of higher education. We get confused what are the criteria which make a university a suitable one for the learners. We also urge the Ministry of Educating and UGC to conduct a survey on the colleges of the country which produce millions of students every year. When our top-ranking public universities show such poor pictures, what about the colleges under National University? Though the outgoing UGC chairman professor Nazrul Islam comments that this condition in public universities is usual in the poverty-stricken and problem-ridden country like Bangladesh, we don’t want to see our universities with the same eye. University is the brain of a nation, when the problem lies here what about other organs of the body? Do we have more time to spend or just start doing something immediately? A national committee must be formed comprising both local and international education experts to review the whole situation.