THE decision of the education ministry and the University of Dhaka to hold ongoing and scheduled examinations, which were postponed on February 22, of the seven colleges affiliated to the university amidst protests by students of the colleges is welcome. The education minister, after an online meeting with the Dhaka University vice-chancellor, pro-vice-chancellor and principals of the colleges, on Wednesday announced that the examinations of the students of the seven colleges would continue on the condition that no student would be allowed to stay in the halls of residence. The students of the seven colleges — Dhaka College, Eden Women’s College, Government Shaheed Suhrawardy College, Kabi Nazrul Government College, Begum Badrunnesa Government Women’s College, Mirpur Government Bangla College and Government Titumir College — blocked city roads on Wednesday morning demanding the continuation of the ongoing examinations. Students of the colleges also allege that the affiliation of the colleges to Dhaka University has brought more harm than good by way of prolonged academic life. What is worrying is that the education ministry and the university appear to have been indecisive about the continuation of scheduled examinations in connection with the seven colleges and universities in general are indecisive about the reopening of campuses, causing disappointment in students, which prompted them to hold protests.
The education minister on Monday announced that all universities would reopen on May 24, after Eid-ul-Fitr, and the halls would reopen on May 17, after a closure for 14 months since March 17, 2020 as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 infection. What appears to have afflicted the students and confused guardians is that when almost everything — markets, transport, cinemas, industries, businesses, etc — have run as usual for a long time now, especially after the 66-day general holiday that ended on May 30, educational institutions have still remained closed. Questions have been raised as to why the government does not open the seats of higher learning, if not primary and secondary institutions, when university students are better capable of maintaining the required protocol to keep themselves safe. As for college student protests, the University of Dhaka, which reportedly struggles to deal with and facilitate academic activities of its own students, has come to make the headlines repeatedly for failing to facilitate a smooth running of academic activities of the seven colleges. Since the re-affiliation of the government colleges with the university, apparently without any effective plan to make it work, on February 16, 2017, students of the colleges have faced problems in their academic life.
The education ministry and the universities should, therefore, review their decision on the ongoing and scheduled examinations of all universities. The government must also consider an early reopening of the universities and colleges, if not schools, and ensure a strict adherence to health protocols. In the case of the seven affiliated colleges, the university and the college authorities must work out a plan so that the academic lives of the students are not hampered.
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