Dhaka University steps into 100th year

Arifur Rahman | Published: 00:36, Jul 01,2020


The quality of education at the country’s premium education institution the University of Dhaka, which steps into 100 years today, has eroded drastically over the decades, according to academics.

Academicians said that since its establishment, the university cradled most of the progressive, secular, social, cultural and intellectual movements but failed to maintain its educational excellence after independence of the country.

They said it enlightened not only its own students but the nation as a whole. Initially, the teachers and students worked really hard to build an outstanding record of academic achievement, earning the epithet ‘Oxford of the East’, but it now sounds hollow, educationists observed.

They alleged that the standard of education nosedived with the appointment of poor quality lecturers in an environment where an aspirant teacher’s political identity became the sole criterion during recruitment.

DU professor emeritus Serajul Islam Choudhury told New Age that it became a big challenge for the university to find quality teachers as most of the students tend to find government jobs.

He further said the meritorious students would have to be brought to the teaching profession who would also be interested in enriching themselves by disseminating knowledge.

Serajul Islam Choudhury also said, ‘Dhaka University succeeded in addressing academic and social responsibilities from the very beginning of its inception and played a vital role in the country’s socio-cultural movements but in terms of quality of education it failed to maintain its glory.’

Retired Dhaka University professor Abul Kasem Fazlul Haque said, ‘Academic excellence was far better during the British and Pakistan rule as after the Independence of the country, Dhaka University lost its “character”.’

The quality of education sharply dropped as the university failed to address its main purpose creating new knowledge, he added.

Educationist professor Syed Manzoorul Islam told New Age that Dhaka University played a crucial role in modernising the minds of the emerging new Muslim middle class in the country during the British and Pakistan period but after the independence of the country it lost its heritage.

He further said, ‘The moral degradation of teachers was the primary reason behind this situation as they became merely bootlickers of the government and the teachers association of the university worked as a wing of the ruling party which was regrettable.’ The Dhaka University began its journey on the first day of July in 1921, opening its doors to higher education in this part of the erstwhile British-India.

The academics blamed a general environment where both teachers and students are de-motivated, recruitment of teachers is regularly being done on political considerations, whereas research works dwindled and laboratory facilities shrank.

Professor Syed Manzoorul Islam lamented the fact that the university with a glorious past for its contribution to knowledge and politics by leading the country’s people during different moments of crisis now became a Bangladesh Civil Service cadre production factory.

‘Every country gives the education sector a high priority in their budget. But in our case, it is in a sorry state not only in the context of world standard but also in South Asia,’ he added. The views of the educationalists are mirrored in the Quacquarelli Symonds rankings of the universities around the world where Dhaka University has slipped 200 places, from 601+ to between 800-1000, between 2012 and 2020.

The QS, earlier known as Times Higher Education, a UK-education and research institute, ranks universities annually on the basis of six criteria: academic reputation, employer reputation, citations per faculty, faculty and student ratio, international faculty ratio, and international student ratio.

DU vice-chancellor Akhtaruzzaman, however, spoke about the university in negation of its detractors.

Professor Akhtaruzzaman said, ‘We are trying to improve the overall academic activities of the university and in terms of quality and efficiency, DU graduates are of international standards and this is not reflected in the rankings.’

He said that in the past, there were political recruitments but during his tenure, such recruitments have stopped. The university enrols every year more than 5,800 students on the basis of merit in the first-year bachelor courses. At present, 37,018 students are enrolled and taught by some 1,992 teachers in 83 departments, 12 institutes and 13 faculties, according to university website.

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