University teachers playing truant
The move by the Dhaka University authorities to recommend the dismissal of six teachers from service because of the latter's staying abroad and not reporting back for duty once more draws attention to an old issue. This is not for the first time that DU has spoken of action against academics who, once they go abroad, at some point decide not to return home. There have been recurrent reports down the years of many of these teachers (there are exceptions, of course) finishing their higher studies abroad and then taking up employment there. The fact that not all of them may be taking up jobs at the university level, that in fact they might be veering off into other kinds of work, is irrelevant. What matters is that by not returning to their actual places of work, in this case Dhaka University, they are certainly displaying a poor sense of responsibility to themselves and to their students.
There are all the ethical as well as professional issues which arise as a result of the teachers' long absence abroad. It is simply unacceptable that university teachers, who have in most cases been able to travel abroad for higher studies because they are part of Dhaka University and have been granted leave of absence to pursue their studies abroad, will see nothing wrong in not coming back home. When they do not return, it is their students who suffer, for the simple and good reason that these teachers are responsible for handling significant parts of the syllabus. Indeed, during their absence, generally no new teachers are employed by the university authorities. Teachers going abroad remain on the faculty and in fact remain entitled to salaries. When they do not come back or when they do not inform the university that they do not plan to come back, the university incurs financial losses as well. A particularly disturbing fact is that sometimes some teachers, at some universities, have come back, collected their accumulated salaries and then gone back abroad. Such behaviour demeans not just the teachers themselves but society as a whole because from our teachers we expect the highest degree of integrity.
The authorities of not only Dhaka University but also of other universities in the country must from here on devise clearly outlined policies about recalcitrant teachers. It is inconceivable that teachers will stay abroad for years on end, with little intention of returning home, and yet have their jobs safe and secure for them. Steps must be considered whereby the universities can contact the foreign universities to which our teachers proceed for higher studies in order to make sure that they cannot overstay their period of studies and must come back home.