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18 October, 2019 00:00 00 AM
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Restore stability in universities

Prime minister asks UGC
HARUN UR RASHID, Dhaka

In the present context of instability in public universities across the country, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has taken the matter seriously and directed the  University Grants Commission (UGC) to take tougher action to bring back stability in the educational institutions. UGC sources said when its chairman and members met Hasina at the Prime Minister’s Office yesterday, they received a number of directives regarding how to overcome the unrest in the educational institutions to maintain a peaceful academic environment.

The UGC team also informed the Prime Minister about steps they have taken to bring back stability in the public universities. Sources said the Prime Minister asked them to take various steps, including bringing campuses under digital surveillance and increasing  teacher-student relations.

“We had a fruitful discussion with the Prime Minister on various matters, including the unrest in public universities. She directed us to restore the stability of the universities,” UGC member Prof. Dil Afroza Begum told The Independent yesterday (Thursday).

“The Prime Minister told us to take tougher action and follow rules and regulations to bring back stability in the universities,” she continued. Asked about when the Prime Minister’s directives would be carried out, Dil Afroza said: “It will happen soon.”

“The Prime minister told us to make arrangements for bringing all the campuses of the universities under digital surveillance to avert any kind of mishap. Besides, she has directed that teacher-student relations should be strengthened,” she added.

The recent unrest in universities, including the death of a sophomore student of the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), Abrar Fahad, has created much concern within the government and among other stakeholders, including the UGC. Abrar was allegedly killed by fellow students belonging to the BUET Chhatra League unit on October 7. Most of the alleged killers of Abrar were arrested by law enforcers soon after the incident.

BUET students started demonstrations by placing a 10-point demand, including banning of student politics on the BUET campus. The BUET administration was compelled to ban politics on the campus under duress to bring back stability in the university. Although the demonstration of students came to an end, they have been boycotting class exams and some other activities.

Before the BUET incident, there was unrest in several universities, such as the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Science and Technology University at Gopalganj, where the vice-chancellor (VC) was held responsible for corruption and finally he had to resign.

Even in September, Jahangirnagar University was in turmoil over the alleged corruption of the VC and extortion by the Chhatra League over distribution of money meant for development project of the university.  The VC of Jahangirnagar University did not resign, as demanded by the university students, but central Chhatra League president Rezwanul Haque Chowdhury Shovon and general secretary Golam Rabbani had to step down.

Even the UGC received allegations of corruption and irregularities against at least 11 VCs of different public universities, which also created much unrest in these institutions.

Following such incidents, on October 13 the UGC issued letters to all public universities, urging their authorities to strengthen security measures on the campuses.

The letters, signed by UGC director (Public University Management Division) Md Kamal Hossain, said: “Recently, the UGC is observing with anxiety that students are being made victims of harassment in different ways in some public universities of the country. Even untoward incidents like killing are also taking place in these higher educational institutions.”

“Such problematic occurrences are pushing the students’ lives towards uncertainty and making the country unstable, side by side with destroying the overall environment of the university campus. In this situation, the UGC urges all university administrations to take immediate and effective steps to resolve the prevailing crisis,” the letters said.

The UGC also requested the public universities to strengthen security measures for teachers-students and officers-employees by constant monitoring of every classroom, hall, and campus.

Prior to this, the UGC had issued another letter, containing a number of directives to the public university administration, on January 8, 2019 for ensuring security measures for students, education-friendly environment on the campus and dormitories, undertaking and implementing anti-ragging and anti-drug measures, and stopping harassment of junior students by seniors.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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