- A proposal was prepared and is to be submitted to education ministry next month
- Tk50 crore needed for primary implementation
- New departments such as CSE, ETE to be opened
- Seats in unproductive course to be reduced
- Laboratories to be modernised
- Teachers to be trained
After years of protests by students and mounting allegations of irregularities, Dhaka University (DU) has finally come up with a plan to overhaul educational activities in its seven affiliated colleges – an initiative the authorities say will straighten out the long-standing issues and ensure job-oriented quality education.
The plan intends to modernise the outdated laboratories in the seven colleges, introduce new departments and diploma courses, provide better training to teachers, and downsize some existing courses that are less in demand in the job market, according to the DU authorities.
A proposal has already been prepared for the overhaul. It will be submitted to the Ministry of Education next month. Primarily, the university needs about TK50 crore to revamp the pedagogy in the colleges.
Professor Dr ASM Maksud Kamal, pro-vice-chancellor (Academic) of Dhaka University (DU), told The Business Standard that the DU-affiliated colleges have been suffering from multiple problems and it is difficult to ensure quality higher education through the existing system of education.
"To overcome the situation and start over again, we have put together a strategy. It will be finalised in September after some vetting and meetings with Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni," he added.
According to the plan, the DU will add some new departments like Computer Science and Engineering (CSE), Electrical and Electronic Engineering (EEE), Institute of Information Technology (IIT) and diploma courses at the colleges with the view to create skilled manpower.
Besides, some of the existing courses which have less demand in the job market will be downsized.
The laboratories of these colleges will be upgraded for holding practical classes. DU plans to spend Tk20 crore to modernise the laboratories. In addition, the DU authorities will train the teachers of these colleges in running their academic activities properly.
The teacher-student ratio in the seven colleges is 1:55, whereas the international standard is 1:15. The DU authorities will request the ministry to increase the number of teachers.
Professor Dr ASM Maksud Kamal said, "From 200 to 400 students have been admitted to each department of the colleges. Many students cannot even attend classes due to a shortage of space and seats. Crowded classrooms make it hard for them to concentrate."
"The teachers also cannot look after the students properly. The ministry has to provide an adequate number of teachers. It will be better if the ministry hands over the responsibility of teacher recruitment to the DU. We make the curriculum, syllabus and evaluations. We can hire quality teachers as per our academic demands," he said.
National University Bangladesh was established in 1992 to "modernise" and improve the curriculum and syllabus of undergraduate and graduate-level programmes in colleges.
Prior to this, public colleges were operated under public universities. including DU. The seven colleges were also operated under DU. On 16 February 2017, DU brought back the seven government colleges in Dhaka under its authority.
The decision was taken to bring all public colleges under public universities but it was not carried out. The education ministry even published a gazette on re-affiliation.
According to DU sources, there are about 2.5 lakh students at the seven colleges – Dhaka College, Eden Women's College, Government Shaheed Suhrawardy College, Kabi Nazrul Government College, Begum Badrunnesa Government Women's College, Government Bangla College and Government Titumir College.
However, the re-affiliation, without a proper plan to make it work, has seen the students of the seven colleges beginning to face problems in their academic life. Examination schedules have not been announced even five months after the re-affiliation.
On 20 July 2017, students took to the streets demanding an immediate announcement of the exam schedule. They held a protest at Shahbagh.
Siddikur Rahman, a student of Government Titumir College, lost his eyes after the police fired tear shells and charged batons on the demonstrating students.
The protests, however, could not bring an end to the crisis. From 2017 till the present, students of the colleges have taken to the streets several times demanding an end to session jams, the publication of flawless results in time, the establishment of an administrative building for them, publication of an academic calendar, holding examinations on time, fair evaluation of examination papers and many other demands.
A positive change
The colleges have introduced some practices for improving the quality of education. For example, students have to attend classes regularly. The authorities impose fines on students with less than 70% attendance. Moreover, students are studying textbooks rather than guidebooks.
"Previously, most of the students attended fewer classes annually. They just sat the examinations by studying some questions presented by guidebooks. Even the teachers could not evaluate the exam papers. The DU tried to change the situation," Professor Dr ASM Maksud Kamal said.
Professor Md Akhtaruzzaman, the vice-chancellor of Dhaka University, told TBS that the university will do everything to improve the teaching and learning quality of the seven colleges. "I expect that the ministry will help us in implementing the plan," he said.