Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University’s vice chancellor Kamal Uddin Ahmed observed that the current unrests in some public universities in the country are the reflection of the fall of social values where most of the people were guided by greed, hypocrisy and vindictiveness.
But, people discuss more about alleged involvement of the universities teachers in different irregularities compared to the other sectors as they want to see university teachers as ideal and reverential personae, Kamal Uddin observed.
‘Public universities are not isolated entities. So, the decline of values, ethics and morality in the society is reflected, to some extent, in some immoral activities at the universities. But, the degree of such irregularities is less compared to in other sectors,’ he claimed.
Kamal, a former leader of federation of Bangladesh university teachers’ association claims that sometimes vested groups give a bad name to teachers with the aim to consolidate their positions while, at others, anomalies occur trying to assuage the people occupying superior positions.
‘So, it would not be wise to comment unless alleged corruption charges and involvement in other irregularities and unethical activities are proven through investigations. If someone is found guilty, the person must be punished,’ he said, adding that the entire sector should not be blamed for immoral behaviour of some individuals.
He thinks that time has come to examine the collapse of values in society from a broader perspective and each immoral act must be encountered immediately.
He was of the opinion that a sea-change in the education system was the call of the time for a greater social change.
‘We have to invest a lot for the future generation through introducing an education system that will develop strong sense of ethics among the pupils, love for the nature, besides enabling diverse skills as found in the developed countries,’ he said.
For achieving the target, he said, an effective education policy must be framed and executed by developing infra-structures and quality resources.
‘The education policy must be job-oriented like the policy proposed by the Qudrat-e-Khuda Education Commission. Why should everybody be university graduates? And what is the benefit of producing so many graduates in a limited job market when in many technical fields we don’t have skilled labourers? Simultaneously the government must work for industrialisation for providing job opportunities,’ said Kamal, a member of the Shamsul Haque Education Commission 1997.
He lamented that the guidelines of the education commissions formed on different period had not been executed.
Kamal said that the education budget must be increased for developing infrastructures and resources for implementing the policy.
‘It is true that university graduates are becoming primary school teachers these days. But, their salary is quite close to a grade 4 office staff of any government office. Society does not even give them respect as they used to get a few decades back. Then why should a talented student become a school teacher? We must address these issues considering the future of society,’ he observed.
The best students are usually appointed as university teachers but their salary, benefits and dignity are not on a par with the public servants, he said, adding that the public university teachers are paid less than the private university teachers.
‘Even the position of the vice-chancellor of a public university is at 17 in the warrant of precedence,’ Kamal said.
As a result, he said, many public university teachers who secured jobs at foreign universities and institutes did not return.
‘Alarmingly, some teachers even preferring to switch to the private universities,’ he added.
Many recently developed or developing countries achieved successes investing more in the education sector, he said.
‘In 1960s many students from Malaysia, Iran and other countries used to come to Bangladesh to study at the universities and institutes. But, these days our students go to these countries for higher education. Why? Because their governments invested a lot to ensure better education,’ Kamal said.
While doing MPhill funded by the British Council in the UK in 1986, Kamal said that he found many Malaysian and Korean students studied at the British Universities with government funding.
‘Though I got the offer to do my doctorate from Southampton University, the then military dictator refused to extend my leave and I had to return. If this is the role of the government, what will happen?’ he asked.
Professor Kamal Uddin Ahmed felt that the current government was trying to improve the education sector but the effort is not adequate. Along with increasing the quality of the primary and secondary education, he said, additional efforts must be given to higher education, especially for research works.
‘There are many talented students and teachers in the country and we have to nurture them by providing support,’ he said.
He also claimed that the agriculturalists in the country had some major achievements in researches for developing the country. They had invented verities of high yielding, fortified and genetically modified food verities, he said, adding that the fisheries and vegetable productions also significantly increased over the years for the researches by the agriculturalists.
The momentum would be increased if they received greater government support, Kamal said.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Interview