All colleges-public and private- had been under public universities but the session jam, exam jam, complexities to publish results engulfed the whole system. The public universities had been busy with their own academic and administrative affairs. To ease the burden National University was established freeing the public universities with the expectation that public universities would be able to fully concentrate on giving quality education and conduct research. None of the results, however, came near our expectation.
On the other hand, the National University established itself as a certificate giving university. How far it is reasonable for NU to look after more than two thousand colleges remains a question. The quality of NU education has been a matter of question for years, so the educationists have opined whether the colleges could be brought under the public universities again. Their expectation is it would gradually lead the colleges to disseminating quality education. This though most probably led DU to announce seven colleges to affiliate to it suddenly.
Some people, of course, smelt politics in this hasty decision as the then VC suddenly announced it without giving a thought whether DU has enough manpower to deal with the affair. Many and I also expressed in one of my Bengali articles that the existing teachers, officers and staff of DU find it already difficult to deal with forty thousand pupils, their academic and administrative affairs. The extra burden of two lakh more students of Titumir College, Dhaka College, Begum Badrunnessa Women College, Kabi Nazrul Islam College, Iden Women’s College, Suhrawardi College and Mirpur Bangla College. We anticipated that the University would face a big challenge and today’s reality reflects that truth.
All these colleges are Government College and since the announcement of affiliation to Dhaka University till July 2017 students were not informed of their syllabus, curriculum, exam system and dates. They had been quite in the dark that led them to demonstrate on the street. They gathered in the busy point of Shahbagh and there was a scuffle between them and police and an upshot of it one student of Titumir College lost his eyesight.
The tussle between DU and NU has caused the academic year of the students lengthy. Dhaka University follows semester system and one year eight courses are taught and every four months exams take place. Moreover, continuous increase of different departments don’t allow any scope to keep any room vacant. So, the authorities are to conduct examinations even on holidays. Over this situation, these seven colleges would create extra burden.
In August-September the students of these seven colleges started demonstration with the demands such as (i) announcing rules and regulations of the colleges ( academic syllabus, type of question, distribution of marks, the relation of the colleges with Dhaka University)(ii) the viva-voce of the second and fourth year honours to be conducted and results to be published soon (iii) taking the exam of honours third and fourth year soon (iv) 2014-2015 session masters admission to be finished. (v) Delayed degree exams to be completed (vi) to develop a website of these seven college and (vii) to develop proper steps for quality of education reliving them of session jam.
All these demands sound reasonable and positive. But the authorities seem not to decide anything until students get to the street and create chaos. Thus the knot developed with the affiliation of these colleges to Dhaka University has got more complex and the students resumed their demonstration this year.
On 15 January this year some female students were assaulted at a rally that urged Dhaka University to scrap its affiliation with seven Dhaka based colleges. The next day, they had laid siege to the proctor’s office demanding punishment to the accused activists of the students belonging to ruling party. But, two days later, DU authorities filed a case against fifty unidentified students accusing them of vandalizing the proctor’s office, a move which students protested by taking out a procession the same night.
The ruling party student wing again attacked dozens of Dhaka University students who were demonstrating in front of the vice-chancellor’s office to press home a four-point demand, including expulsion of some student leaders for “harassing” female students a few days ago. At least fifty students and two campus-based journalists were injured in the second such attack.
The protesting students were beaten mercilessly with iron rods, cricket stumps and sticks. Thus brutality prevails frequently in the holy campus of Dhaka University and the present situation ensued from a hasty and thoughtless decision of the authorities and now the students have become brunt of it.
The students staged demonstration for the second time when he could not take any action against the students responsible for harassing the female students. The protesting students’ were right that the VC could have taken action against the wrong doers. It is a matter of great regret that the society we have formed so far cannot allow any VC to take any action against student wings of political parties.
The sadder story is our VCs are to depend on the student leaders to cling to the chair. Who will see it, where to start the journey from and how are the big questions today. The University of Dhaka in particular and other public universities in general have glorious history as well as the worst forms of deeds committed by student wings of political parties. Only God knows when they shall be free from such acts.
(The writer works for BRAC Education Programme. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)