NEWER of the 46 public universities that are now in operation having been mired in the shortage of the required number of qualified teachers by a constraining measure, as New Age reported on Saturday, is worrying. Students enrolled on such universities are faced with handicaps in their academic activities as the institutions have appointed a handful of lecturers and employed some senior teachers and professionals as guest teachers to teach a large number of students. A University Grants Commission official seeks to say that at least six such universities did not get to recruit teachers in the positions of associate professor or professor despite the positions being advertised after the commission’s approval. Although such a proposition speaks of a shortage of qualified teachers, this also reeks of a lack of the confidence of prospective teachers in new ventures of higher education. The government is reported to have given the approval for the establishment for four more public universities to advance technology-based higher education. With the teacher shortage persisting, this is highly likely to deepen the problem. Bangladesh certainly needs more public universities, but the issues of the establishment of the universities should also be assessed against the ground reality, especially the teacher shortage.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Science and Technology University in Gopalganj is, for an example, reported to have had only four — the vice-chancellor and three guest teachers — in the rank of professor and the institution has 12,000 students in 34 departments. A computer science and engineering graduate of the university is reported to have been denied a teaching job in a private university on the grounds that the Gopalganj university has no senior teachers in the department, where some lecturers teach the students. While it is important for the universities to have the required number of student-teacher ratio, they should also have senior, qualified teachers to make a mark. The Bangladesh Education Statistics 2017, which the Bangladesh Bureau of Educational Information and Statistics published in July 2018, that time put the teacher-student ratio at 1:63 in Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Science and Technology University and at 1:67 in Begum Rokeya University in Rangpur, which is far higher than the University Grants Commission recommendation of 1:16 in science universities and 1:22 in general universities. There is the need for more universities but there is hardly any need for the establishment of universities on political considerations or as a means to show off; ground realities should be strictly assessed.
In view of the teacher shortage, a University Grants Commission member seeks to say that the commission has decided to relax the qualification for the appointment of teachers in the newly-established public universities. This appears to be a mindless decision as this would not only lower the quality of education in the universities that will have teachers thus appointed but also create a stark discrimination of the universities having qualified teachers against the universities that may not have them. All this, in turn, will not only frustrate the purpose of the establishment of universities but also create a scope for many to hold graduates from universities with less qualified teachers in low esteem in every sphere of life.
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