On the occasion of the 99th founding anniversary of Dhaka University (DU) academics have opined that ‘Oxford of the East’ has failed to maintain its educational excellence despite the fact that this premium educational institution nourished most of the progressive, secular, social, cultural and intellectual movements in the history of Bangladesh.
Dhaka University (DU) stepped into its glorious 100th year on Wednesday. The DU authorities celebrated its 99th founding anniversary with very limited programs, since much like anywhere else in the world the country is facing an unusual scenario due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Dhaka University succeeded in addressing academic and social responsibilities from the very beginning of its inception and played a vital role in the country’s socio-cultural movements, but in terms of quality of education it has failed utterly to maintain its glory.
The university has slipped 200 places, from 601 bracket to 800-1000 bracket in the QS World University rankings, between 2012 and 2020.
Initially, the teachers and students worked really hard to build an outstanding record of academic achievement, earning the epithet ‘Oxford of the East’, but it now sounds hollow, academics observed.
They alleged that the standard of education impeded with the appointment of poor quality lecturers in an environment where an aspirant teacher’s political identity became the sole criterion during recruitment.
Talking to The Bangladesh Post, DU Prof Emeritus Serajul Islam Choudhury said, “The standard of the university has not improved much.”
Renowned educationist Professor Syed Manzoorul Islam said that Dhaka University played a crucial role in modernising the minds of the emerging new Muslim middle class in the country during the British and Pakistan period, but after the independence of the country it lost its heritage.
He went on to say, “The moral degradation of teachers was the primary reason behind this situation as they became merely bootlickers of the government and the teachers’ association of the university worked as a wing of the ruling party which was regrettable.”
The academic blamed a general environment where both teachers and students are de-motivated, recruitment of teachers is regularly being done on political considerations, whereas research works dwindled and laboratory facilities shrank.
Available stats also justify his claim.
The university currently has at least 2000 teachers but the number of research works has decreased over the years.
In 1988-1989 academic year, a total of 208 research papers were published by 188 teachers of seven departments - Bangla, History, Economics, Marketing, Physics, Chemistry and Political Science. After 30 years, around 251 teachers published only 60 research papers in 2016-2017 session, according to data from annual report.
Retired Dhaka University professor Abul Kasem Fazlul Haque said, “Academic excellence was far better during the British and Pakistan rule as after the independence of the country, Dhaka University lost its character.”
The quality of education sharply dropped as the university failed to address its main purpose (creating new knowledge), he added.
Contacted, DU Pro-Vice Chancellor (administration) Prof Muhammad Samad said the academic achievements of Dhaka University in the last 100 years is not up to the mark.
“There should have been more academic advancement. Over time, library facilities, research apparatus etc. were not improved. Also, there are some departments in the university which are not compatible with the demand of time, it needs reform. We should take initiatives to develop the standard in line with the top universities of the world,” he said.
On the other hand, DU vice-chancellor Akhtaruzzaman said, “We are trying to improve the overall academic activities of the university and in terms of quality and efficiency, DU graduates are of international standards, but this is not reflected in the rankings.”
However, it is mentionable that Dhaka University, which is considered as the country’s highest echelon for academic excellence, started its academic activities on July 1, 1921 with 12 departments, 3 faculties, 60 teachers, 877 students and 3 residential halls.