If any tourist drives from the capital down to the Sundarbans along the Dhaka-Mawa highway, he must encounter a distance board; that signals Khulna University is not very far away. If the stranger ventures to explore the site, I’m sure he could hardly guess from the outside what is happening inside: thousands of young minds doing their academic tasks so peacefully. An idea of university that has grown over the years particularly in our context doesn’t go with this character. The choice of the admission seekers also gives us an insight into the social chemistry. Each year around 54 thousand high scorers from across the country vie for a little over thousand seats. No doubt, KU is a general university founded in 1987. But the strong institutional bias towards research and innovation added with its commitment to match contemporary demands pushed it forward along the frontliners. Anyway, nobody would at least contest my assertion that KU has rapidly progressed on many counts and climbed up to an amazing height of academic excellence. Not that the craze blows over the delta zone, it spills over beyond our international territory.
The academic activities of KU were formally kicked off on 25 November 1991. Incepted in 1987, the foundation stone of this university was laid down in 1989. But the idea of establishing such universities was embedded in the spirit of liberation. Soon after the emergence of a sovereign state, the Dr Kudrat-e-Khuda commission recommended such an institution in greater Khulna division; that promised to disseminate quality education and reach up to the periphery; where people on the margin could reap up the dividend of freedom. It was also the dream of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman that these qualified graduates would contribute to the making of a just and knowledge-based society. Today I’ve reasons to believe KU has travelled all the way since its inception to keep pace with the aspirations of our nation. The university aims to leave social and economic impacts through translating academic wisdom into practice. The graduates will be the agents for changes and deliver on food security, poverty alleviation, nutrition and environment. The core values of this institution include freedom of thoughts and tolerance to dissenting voices. On top of everything KU retains an uncompromised conviction to academic excellence.
Not that KU can only boast of its conventional capacities, the institution has already unfolded a unique chapter of research and innovation. An institute for integrated studies on the Sundarbans and coastal eco system was established here for the first time in history. The Solid Waste Management project is running in full swing to ensure a green campus. An ambitious Green House project is also likely to be implemented soon. The Soil Archive was also installed here for the first time in the country. The Institutional Quality Assurance Cell is relentlessly working to attain academic excellence. Outcome based education is the latest reform in curricula adopted to prevent mismatch in the run up to reaching world class quality. It is time to work with students in partnership, not to see them as customers. We must help them learn, encourage them to be active rather than passive listeners. Central Lab is going to be well equipped. Innovation Hub is being prepared. Disciplines are getting ready with Smart Classrooms. The central library is now growing resourceful with an ample supply of e-books and automation.
More than 500 teachers are the epicenter of all hopes and energy. They are preparing more than 7000 students for upcoming time. One third of the teachers are PHDs. Teacher-Student ratio remains 1:12 which is up to the international standard. 15 thousand graduates have already entered the job market over the last 3 decades. They are engaged in a reputed profession. Initiatives are taken to boost incentives for research and innovation. More than 500 scholarly articles were published in international journals during the recent years. Different survey suggests a good number of teachers have been ranked in the list of leading scientists. Many universities from Europe, America and Asia have already signed MOU for joint collaboration in promoting research and higher education. Hectic efforts are going on to bring about a qualitative change in Khulna University.
There are differences in opinion about the real impact of higher education on learners. We are now experiencing an age of transition. We need high-level skills. That kind of knowledge actually comes from research, workforce development and creativity. Competition in the international arena is growing tougher. Now we live in a borderless world. Knowledge and ideas must be shared. If we fail to keep pace with the fast changing mode of learning, the nation will suffer. If we search for a way out, a quality university like KU is the answer.
The writer is Treasurer, Khulna University