President Abdul Hamid is the Chancellor of all the universities of Bangladesh, both public and private. He attends convocation ceremonies of all the public universities and blesses a few of the private universities with his valuable time. His eloquent speeches both from the reading texts and often beyond the texts are captivating. His concentration and deliberation on academic malaises in the tertiary level of education ruminates a poor state of academic attainment. Indeed, this hollowness could lead to catastrophic consequences in the politico-economic sphere in Bangladesh.A careful reader may catalogue myriad dimensions of his speeches, such as role of Vice-Chancellors, commitment of the teachers in teaching and research, the fall in accreditation profile, dignity of the academic profession, night shift in many public universities and overall the quality of education. The President is candid enough to review the academic environment of 2019; the series of disarrays in tertiary level of education and thus concentrated discourse with the axis of those anomalies. His speeches focused those irregularities with erudition.
His oblong reference on “turning the [public] university into a business institution” is a serious concern in the field of tertiary education that he referred in the 52nd convocation of University of Dhaka on December 9, 2019. “Different public universities have opened many departments, evening courses, diploma courses and institutes. Apart from the regular courses, many students are coming out successfully from such ‘business course’ and a section of teachers are getting cash benefit turning the university into a business institution.” President Abdul Hamid again was very specific on the role of teachers in shaping a university into a world-class one. His speech on the first convocation of Jagannath University on January 11, 2020 and in the 3rd Convocation of Shahjalal University on January 8, 2020 manifests the determinants of an ideal teacher. An ideal teacher is not lured by any greed, he/she is up to date with state of the art of disciplines, invest time in upgrading his/her skill and enrich the academic credentials with recent academic pursuit. Dignity of profession is the hard core that you could attain only by acquainting with the latest innovation in your field of research and through your honesty.
A teacher should be punctual in class, deliver new insights to the students, equip students with the most recent available literature and encourage students to read beyond the text books. The President is very sceptical on the duo role of a teacher “who use the university job as a shield” but roam around in weeklong evening courses even in remote locations and indulging classes at the private universities instead of taking scheduled classes in own universities. Their perfunctory nature of teaching in their own work place, even on the weekends [when the teachers could not conduct regular classes because of other preoccupations] continuous three to five hours classes testifies the banal nature of discourse most appropriate to lower category of academic institutions. Questions are set in a manner in many instances that students could not be tested on the top level of Bloom’s taxonomy of learning; application, synthesis and evaluation. Students are happy with the inflated grade and teachers are comfortable with evaluation. All happen at the cost of quality of education; now a serious problem not only at the tertiary level but at every tier of education.
President Abdul Hamid was also very specific on the role of Vice-Chancellors in academic excellence. Honesty, integrity, impartiality, transparency and sincerity are the gems through which a vice-chancellor can win the heart of student communities. The year 2019 sets series of irregularities by the vice-chancellors of several public universities. Allegations are rife against the vice-chancellors and the academic staff on corruption in the recruitment process, embezzlement of funds, nepotism, and sexual harassment against many public universities.
Elevation or upgradation is a two way process. Teachers are at the helm of this process and can play a catalytic role in the whole process. On one hand, upgradation is embedded on the marketability of the product i.e., quality of education and on the other hand, the state of accreditation by distinguished accreditation body. Accreditation is a radical and depends on many atoms. Teachers play the most pivotal role in the whole process. Unfortunately, both in Times Higher Education and in QS Asia ranking only a few public universities [Dhaka University and BUET] and three private universities such as North South University, BRAC University and United International University could secure ranking at a moderate percentile rank. Dhaka University and BUET with a glorious past record of achievement could not regain their past enviable position.
Mr President, your childlike simplicity and your sermon in candour manifests your anxieties in the tertiary education spectrum. We, the ordinary people of this soil appreciate and support your concern. It is our earnest expectation that as President you would address and find sustainable solutions of some of the anomalies in your tenure as Chancellor and free the nation from multiple glitches; the most hazardous is the political affiliation of academic institutions. Please help us!
The writer is a Professor of Economics, United international University. Email: [email protected] eco.uiu.ac.bd