Rangamati Government College (RGC), once regarded as one of the acclaimed educational institutions in the district, has been struggling to live up to expectations for at least two decades now.
Enrolment of students has soared to around 12,000 -- in higher secondary, undergraduate (honours and pass course) and masters courses -- at the college that was upgraded to a university college in 1989.
Till date, besides higher secondary courses, RGC offers 13 courses for students in undergraduate and masters levels.
Although more courses are being offered now, the institution seems to be failing to cope with the rising number of students from surrounding areas and districts.
Boasting a 24-acre campus in Rangamati town, RGC once had student dormitories on the campus. But for the past twenty years, its male dormitory has been lying in a dilapidated state after it was abandoned following recurring political confrontations. The female one has also remained shut down for years due to similar reasons.
Most students of the college are from remote hilly areas of the district where daily commute is risky and expensive. But without any dormitories operational on the college campus, more than 10,000 of the students, mostly from impoverished families, are being compelled to live outside the campus at expensive rented accommodations. Rehana Akhter, an intermediate student of science group, said, “Girls are living without security outside the campus. The authorities should provide security to the students by opening the hostels again.”
Sonarita Chakma, another student in humanities group from a remote area, said, “I don’t have any relative in Rangamati town where I can stay. Though it’s very expensive, I am having to stay at a mess with classmates.”
Shortage of teachers is another setback the RGC is facing. Although honours courses were introduced a long time ago, there are no professor positions in the institution yet.
Out of the 14 associate professor positions, four lie vacant while eight out of its 29 lecturer positions remain unfilled.
“After getting admitted, I realised that the number of teachers is not enough for all our classes. I don’t know how I will do in exams,” said Zinat Sultana, a higher secondary science group student from Rangunia in Chattogram.
Anjali Tangchangya, a second-year business studies student in higher secondary, said the teacher shortage at the college left them with no option but to spend excessive money on tutors for private lessons.
For students commuting daily, RGC does not have adequate transport services either. Currently, the college authorities have been trying to transport around 2,000 such students with only five to six buses hired from third parties.
Being unable to board the overcrowded buses provided by the college, most of the commuting students are using local transport services.
Many students cannot afford to pay so much money every day on bus fare, said Khokon Chakma, an honours fourth-year student of history department.
Admitting the teacher shortage at RGC, its principal Muhammad Moin Uddin said, “We already requested the education ministry to fill the vacant teaching posts and they assured us to fill the posts as soon as possible.” Regarding campus housing for students, he said, “We also informed the ministry of the need to repair [the women’s dorm] and build a new hostel [for men]. Education Engineering Department (EED) have already done a land survey for the construction of the new hostel.”
Asked about how he plans to address the inadequate transport services for students, he said they hope the issue would be resolved once the Prime Minister’s Office responds to their written request of procuring new buses for the college.