DU Faculties of Social Science, Fine Arts: Scrapping of separate entry tests may complicate things

Say a number of experts
Dhaka University

Complications may arise in evaluating subject-based skill and choosing eligible students if Dhaka University authorities approve the Deans' Committee's recent decision to abolish separate admission tests for Social Science and Fine Arts faculties, some academics opined.

It will also act as an impediment for students who want to change academic streams, they observed.

In a meeting, the Deans' Committee of the DU on Sunday decided against arranging separate admission tests for Social Science and Fine Arts faculties ("Gha" and "Cha" units) from the 2021-22 academic year.

It means the DU will hold admission tests in three units instead of the usual five from the next academic year, with the two faculties to be merged with the three main disciplines -- science, arts and business.

The decision is subject to approval of the Academic Council, the apex body of the DU.

Talking to The Daily Star, Professor Sadeka Halim, dean of Faculty of Social Sciences, said the decision surprised her.

"I was surprised that the matter was discussed in the meeting... The VC raised the issue at the very last stage of the meeting. I had then thought that maybe he was saying this after giving it some thought, because I have seen some deans echo the VC," said Sadeka Halim.

She also said that the issue was not even in the agenda of Sunday's meeting.

"I am not just a dean; I am also a representative of the Faculty of Social Sciences. The admission test of 'Gha' unit has been taking place for 25 years and that is because of the decision of the multi-disciplinary committee. Neither I nor the VC has the jurisdiction to shut admission tests of any unit in DU. Admission test of a unit cannot be stopped by force," she said.

There are about 300 teachers and they also have their opinions, she added.

"The matter will definitely come up in the Academic Council. Our teachers will give their feedback there," she said.

Prof Halim said she was expecting the VC to talk about more pressing issues in Sunday's meeting, like modernising the online education programme, providing electronic devices or data packages at cheap rates.

"But without discussing it, he talked about not taking admission tests in two units. Why is that? Is it the vice-chancellor's job to drag the university back 100 years?"

She said such a decision is illogical, ridiculous and against DU's achievements over the last 100 years.

Another academic, preferring not to be named, said the decision would bar students from switching academic streams.

"Gha (social science) unit is a unit that allows students to change streams. And without a separate test how can the skill of a student who does not want to study science be judged?" he questioned.

"The remark the VC made in the media has confused us a bit," said Prof Nisar Hossain, acting dean of Fine Arts.

"Students do not appear in any test related to Fine Arts up to twelfth grade. That's why we admit students with a separate test on the subject of drawing and we have been applying this method for the last 72 years," said Prof Nisar Hossain.

"But yesterday, the VC sent a single letter to the deans in which he wrote that fine arts subjects -- dance, music and drama -- are creative and they will come up with a strategy on how to evaluate the students in these subjects," he said.

"If so, I have no objection in the case of fine arts. It doesn't matter whether it is a unit or not. What I am worried about is taking the test in the right way."

Contacted, DU Vice-chancellor Prof Md Akhtaruzzaman said fewer tests would "alleviate the suffering of teachers, students and parents, bridge the gap between rural-urban students and reduce dependency on coaching centres".

He also said question papers would be prepared in such a way that a textbook-centric study habit grows among students.



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