Mahfuzur Rahman Manik
Standard of higher education(29,may2009,Financial Express))
মার্চ 17, 2010

THE prime minister has expressed her deep concern over the standard of higher education. On 19 May last, the representatives of the University Grants Commission (UGC) met the prime minister when she expressed this concern. It is reasonable. Our higher education is really in problem now. The main scope for receiving higher education is in public universities, private universities and the national university.

We see the conditions of these higher seats of learning. The standard of education in public universities is not satisfactory. The position of Dhaka university, the largest public university in Bangladesh is now known. In world ranking it is placed at 4,787 position, among 6,000 universities of the world. So we can guess what is the condition of other public universities in our country. Session jams, politics, low level of research activities, shortage of book etc., are some of the major problems of all public universities.

Then comes the case of private universities. About 0.2 million students study in 51 private universities in the country. Such a large number of students are provided therein the scope for higher studies. But the condition of most of them is also not well. Under the law of 1992, these private universities were established. Then in 1998, this law was amended. But the reality is that these universities do not follow this law. They established outer campuses and 'Dur shikkhon karjokrom' or (remote learning programmes). These are in violation of the law. Moreover, teachers of such universities are not adequately qualified. The authorities issue directives at their sweet will.

In the national university, we see a huge problem. The government is reportedly considering a move to close this university. Here corruption, partisan interests and session jams reign supreme. There is no need to discuss its multi-dimension problems. We think the reported decision of government to close the national university does not provide the real solution to its problems, because their decision to distribute the colleges among the six divisions on a district-wise basis is unlikely to bring good results.

We share the prime Minister's deep concern and appreciate her call upon all concerned to solve the problems of these higher seats of learning to help raise the standard of higher education.

Public universities are mostly funded by tax-payers' money and people have an expectation from them. We feel shy when we compare our situation to that of other countries. Politics should be controlled here; research activities should be promoted there; teachers should concentrate on research and national issues. Residential problems, library facilities and infrastructural inadequacies are issues that should also be solved immediately.

All possible measures should be taken to enforce properly the law concerning the functioning of private universities. The business mentality of the sponsors of most such universities should be changed, more qualified and permanent teachers need to be recruited there.

There is no need to close the national university. Its problems should be solved first and then a specific time-frame should be given to its authorities to raise its standard.

There is also a scope for higher education in madrashas. To develop properly madrasha education, the standard of their courses, equivalent to BA and MA degrees, and related curriculum should be changed. Scientific and realistic curriculum is needed for the purpose.

This government pledged changes in all spheres of national life to help accelerate the pace of development. We want this to come in areas of higher education sooner than later.


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