The state always tries to exercise control over universities so that no revolution or protest can happen there, eminent educationist Prof Serajul Islam Choudhury said yesterday.
He was speaking at a teachers' convention on “What kind of university do we want: Higher education policy and structure” at Social Science gallery of Jahangirnagar University.
The two-day convention is being organised by University Teachers' Network -- a left leaning university teachers' group, to discuss how to improve the quality of education at the universities of the country.
“They [authorities] fear students, and try to use the universities to retain the existing social structure. But students break out of the circle. Students' movements were sparked in different universities -- during the Pakistan period and in recent times alike,” said Professor Choudhury.
He also said, “Two things -- students' union and education in mother language -- are needed for any university. The quality of our education has deteriorated as we do not have original books, research in and translations to Bangla. But, we don't take on the challenge of mother tongue for higher studies. And secondly, we need student unions for ensuring social and cultural education of students. If the two are not present, then a university cannot be a university in its true sense.”
“The aim of a university is to create good human beings who will raise questions about social problems, reform and serve the society, and stand against capitalistic oppression,” he added.
Speaking at the conference, Prof Anu Muhammad said, “There is no difference between four autonomous universities and government universities; the government has taken total control of the universities.”
“The university dormitories have become torture cells for freshers; in the residential 'gono-rooms', students are being rendered spineless [people] and robots, who can never think individually,” he said.
This is a “special project” of the government so that nobody can talk against authorities' faults, Prof Anu Muhammad added.
Prof Abul Kashem Fazlul Haque of DU said, “The universities are now operating abnormally, and a big change is needed.”
“Freedom and independence -- these two words do not exist in the universities. We have to stop the ongoing situation,” said Prof Gitiara Nasreen of Dhaka University.
In the second half, Bakhtiar Ahmed, a teacher of Rajshahi University, presented an article on “University Grants Commission: Strategy”, while Tanzim Uddin Khan of DU's international relations, Raihan Rhyne of JU's philosophy, and Ainoon Naher of the same university's anthropology departments, also spoke at the programme.
Prof Sayeed Ferdous of anthropology department inaugurated the programme while Prof Mirza Taslima Sultana and Associate Prof Parvin Jolly conducted the programme.
At the end of a conference, a recommendation paper will be written and sent to all participating universities.