Photo: Dhaka Tribune

Oh DU, my DU

The University of Dhaka is in focus once again for two reasons: One, there is a possibility that the elections for Dhaka University Central Students Union might take place soon, for which a date has been announced; and two, a claim by the VC of the university that the Tk10 “cha, shingara, chop, and samosa” are still available at DU’s Teacher-Student Centre. He claimed if the international community knew about it, the Tk10 price could create a world record.
Although the cha, shingara, chop, and samosa are not at all related to the quality of education of the university, the VC has boasted about it. There are many other aspects of the university to boast about, but the VC has chosen the Tk10 cha, shingara, chop, and samosa.
I don’t know the background against which he had made this comment, but I felt in the time of active social media, he should have been more careful about his statements regarding university affairs. Naturally, he’s now being ridiculed.
Now, it is true that unlike the privately-owned universities, DU has been catering to the educational needs of students belonging to the middle and lower-middle classes. This university has also been serving the nation for a long time. The admission tests of DU are the toughest in the country.
Why has Dhaka University been admired by the masses since its inception? First, the quality of education at the university was of global standard. Secondly, the students of this institution have played the most important roles in the history of Bangladesh. They have always taken the lead, be it during the language movement of 52, mass upsurge of 69, Liberation War of 71, and anti-autocracy movement in 90.
One cannot ignore talking about the glorious past of DU when one thinks about it. It’s very interesting to notice that we have always talked about the past whenever any discussion comes up. On the other hand, we don’t find anyone talking about the current state of affairs as well as the future of the university.
No one tells us how the university is coping with the demands of the 21st century. In the current global scenario, how should DU prepare its students in terms of nation-building? How many graduates from this institution are able to enter the corporate world successfully?
How many teachers of this university attain an international standard when it comes to doing research? Is doing just a PhD the ultimate goal of DU teachers? Once upon a time, they played crucial roles in social reforms. A good many great writers were also produced from among them.
How many of its students can say that they are proud of the education that they received from DU? As a student of this university, I’m certainly proud of my university’s glorious contributions whenever the nation was in distress.
However, with my hand on my heart, I cannot say that I was satisfied with the education I received from my university.
I expected more; I had many dreams when I entered DU. Unfortunately, the institution couldn’t prepare me for professionally competing in the international arena.
Why? Much before we started our education, our teachers had gotten involved in colourful party politics of the country. When the private universities started their journey, our teachers became part-timers in those universities. People say, it was then that the quality of education started to slide in DU.
When we were students, serving as an educator was extremely prestigious among the people. The masses used to hold the teachers of DU in high regard. But not anymore.
The students’ political trajectory has also changed since 75. After the demise of Bangabandhu, we have witnessed student leaders serving their respective political parties rather than looking after the interest of the common students, something that has been quite rare in independent Bangladesh. For student leaders, it has always been the objective to establish supremacy of party politics in the campus.
Newer revolutions in the academic world are being driven by students across the globe. The student leaders of top ranked universities are in the process of continuous research on how to improve the educational ability of their respective universities.
When the new central union leaders come, they might as well think of advancement of DU’s educational atmosphere. No matter how glorious the past is, no matter how influential the student leaders are, they won’t be remembered positively if they do not play their roles positively.
First published in Dhaka Tribune.

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