Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said the government would stop providing funds to public universities if their teachers did not stop provocative activities to take their students down the wrong path in the name of movement.
“The government will stop all funding.... Why should the government provide funds? These are autonomous institutions. Now you have to think what you will do,” she said.
The PM was addressing the 13th council of Jatiya Sramik League, an associate body of the ruling Awami League, at the Suhrawardy Udyan in the capital.
She said nobody would ever accept taking students down the wrong path through provocation and uttering ugly words. “If it is done, then you will have to find your own funding, manage your own salaries, and bear your education costs yourself.”
Hasina, also the AL president, said the students of public universities can pursue higher education as the government allocates funds for their universities through the University Grants Commission.
“No country in the world provides higher education at such a low cost.... It’s true that autonomy is there [university]. But who is paying the money? It’s the government.”
The premier mentioned that the government provides salaries and allowances of the public university teachers and tuition fees of the students.
“How much does a student [of a public university] spend on his education a month? It is hardly Tk 150. Is it possible to get higher education paying this petty amount of money?”
Hasina asked the students to go to private universities to see how much they spend for just one semester. “The government spends Tk 2-2.5 lakh for each university student... the amount is higher for engineering and medical students. All the money comes from the government.”
She said discipline must prevail in public universities, students must get their appropriate lessons, and they must build their lives in a better way.
“We seriously want it. But we see some people saying that we don’t understand what the public universities are. As if it is only they who understand it and they ensure indiscipline.”
Hasina said this section of people was destroying academic activities and wasting working hours by engaging the students in strikes for days.
“All the money will go from the government, all the development activities will be carried out by the government and this section of people will feel very good accepting that. And the government will not be able to take any step... this is not acceptable at all.”
About raising allegations against anyone, the PM said as per law it is the accuser’s duty to prove the allegations, and if the accuser fails to do so, steps can be taken against him.
Turning to steps taken by the government for the development in different sectors, she said the government has changed the fate of the people by implementing massive programmes for the welfare of garment workers, labourers of industries and farmers.
Hasina said her government has so far raised workers’ wages by 380 percent, increasing the amount to minimum Tk 8,300, and it is rare in the world.
She called upon all, including the leaders and workers of Sramik League, to work unitedly for establishing Bangladesh as the most developed and prosperous country in South Asia.
State Minister for Labour and Employment Begum Monnujan Sufian, AL Labour and Manpower Affairs Secretary Habibur Rahman Siraj and ILO Country Director Tuomo Poutiainen, among others, addressed the function, chaired by Sramik League President Sukkur Mahmud.
AL General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader was present.
Earlier, the premier inaugurated the council of Sramik League through hoisting the national flag. She also witnessed a colourful cultural programme.
NEW LEADERS PICKED
Fazlul Huq Montu, Azam Khasru and Molla Abul Kalam Azad were made Sramik League president, general secretary, and executive president respectively yesterday.
AL General Secretary Quader announced their names in the afternoon.
Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had founded Sramik League in 1969 aiming to protect the rights of workers.
The last council of the organisation was held on July 17, 2012, when Sukkur Mahmud and Sirajul Islam were made president and general secretary respectively.