The government has moved to form an accreditation council to ensure the standard of higher education, around one and half years after the enactment of the law.
As a part of the move, the government on Wednesday appointed former vice chancellor of Jagannath University Prof Mesbah Uddin Ahmed, also a professor of physics department of Dhaka University, as the first chairman of the autonomous body for a four-year term.The education ministry issued a notification regarding the appointment of the first chairman of the Accreditation Council following the order of the president, said ministry sources.
Confirming the appointment of the new chairman of the Accreditation Council, Md Shorab Hossain, secretary of the Secondary and Higher Education division of the ministry, said other members of the council will be appointed soon.
Sources said the education ministry will form the accreditation council within a short time to grade the quality of education at the tertiary level.
The need for an accreditation council has been a pressing issue for long as the government is targeting to ensure quality education by 2030.
The Accreditation Council Act 2017 was passed by Parliament on March 6, 2017, but there was no significant progress towards the formation of the council before the appointment of the chairman.
An official of the ministry said: “A significant progress was made on the formation of the council. The matter has come to the fore of our discussion because it is necessary to ensure the quality education by 2030.”“The accreditation council will play a critical role in determining the quality of education. We are looking for qualified persons as per the law for appointing others members of the council. We hope it will take a shape soon,” he said.
The accreditation council will give accreditation to the institutions and their curriculums, and students will be able to choose their institutions based on the grades assigned by the council. This system will make the university authorities ensure the quality education for their own sake, officials concerned said.
Even the UNESCO, in its Global Education Monitoring Report 2017/18 published this year, stated the need for an accreditation council in Bangladesh to ensure quality education at the tertiary level in Bangladesh.
According to the Accreditation law, the council would be an autonomous body, led a chairman, with four full-time and eight part-time members. The chairman, to be appointed by the government, would be a senior university professor having a teaching experience of 25 years and knowledge about quality assurance and accreditation.
Public university professors having teaching experience of 20 years and people having experience of working with the state administration for 25 years would be eligible to become full-time and part-time members.
The council would have the authority to provide or cancel accreditation certificates for ensuring quality education. The university authorities would make the accreditation certificates public on their own websites for the people, the act says.
Officials concerned say the accreditation council is a must to ensure quality education at the tertiary level and grade the universities as per their performance.
The number of public and private universities in the country is increasing rapidly, but there is no recognised body to give accreditation to the educational institutions based on their performance.
Currently, 40 public universities and 103 private universities are providing higher education to both local and international students in the country.
But except for the old public universities, such as Dhaka University, Rajshahi University and Jahangirnagar University, the new ones are still grappling with a number of problems, including the shortage of quality teachers and lab and research facilities.
Most of the private universities, except a few, are mired in a host of problems, including conflicts in the Board of Trustees, an acute crisis of teachers, poor lab and library facilities and lack of quality research.
Some of the private universities still have not been able to move to permanent campuses and some are managing to carry on academic functions with the help of stay orders from the court.
There are also mounting allegations against the private universities. They are accused of charging high fees from students without providing quality education matching world standards.
Allegations also found that many of the private universities do not comply with the Private University Act 2010 and operate as per their whims.
Following the allegations, In April 2012, the education ministry approved the draft of accreditation council bill and sought opinions of ministries, universities, and departments concerned. The draft of the bill was approved by the cabinet on March 28, 2106.
“I’m delighted to be appointed as the chairman of the accreditation council. Rolling out the accreditation council is crucial to ensure the quality of higher education in the country. I will start my work soon after getting a formal letter of appointment,” Said Prof Dr Mesbahuddin Ahmed, the newly appointed chairman of the council.