– Asif Nazrul*
The day is advancing but yet I am passing my time in the residence. I told my wife:
I am, of course, on leave now
She said in an amazing tone: What sort of leave it is?
Recreation Leave! What does it mean?
The senior teachers of the University get tired by working continuously. That is why there is provision of this leave. She laughed away and said, you enjoy recreation leave throughout the year. Then why leave again?
Myself remained sitting with my face ashamed. Her remark is not fully wrong. I teach in Dhaka University only one subject. In the class routine there is class twice a week, a class of one hour. Other than this there may be meetings, works of Examination Committee; there may be invigilation duty in the Examination Hall; round the year I examine Examination Scripts. But as a teacher of one subject only it is not felt that I do the job of a full time work. However, there is no way out of this debacle. In our Department there are so many teachers that there is little scope of getting more than one subject for teaching. This has so happened that a new teacher even could not have the opportunity to teach the students in a class for few months due to the want of a subject.
The same situation persists in about every Department like that of me. Here teachers have been appointed more with the purpose of making the party/group weighty than with a view to fulfilling the necessity for them. A party/group is chiefly made heavy to ensure the win of the teacher group loyal to the government (White during BNP and Blue during Awami League) in different Elections. This victory is very essential for the government. If the teacher group obedient to the government wins in the Teachers Council Election it does not protest any unjust action by University Administration, government or pro-government organization; even they do not say anything if any protesting teacher is harassed at the hands of pro-government associate student organization. If they win as Syndicate Member or Deen they sometimes rather co-operate or support these misdeeds.
The faithful group when wins can extend appointment to the persons having similar state of mind without any obstruction as Provost or House Tutor of different Student Halls. They don’t tell anything when government student organization establishes lawlessness in the student Halls; they don’t protest against any extortionism in different construction, repairing and employment works; they try to conceal incidents of harassment to the persons having a different opinion.
For the necessity of ensuring the win in the Election a tendency to recruit teachers in the Universities started after BNP came to power for the first time under the leadership of Khaleda Zia. Subsequently it assumed a terrible form by a gradual rise. In the last ten years about one thousand teachers have been appointed in Dhaka University only. Out of them the major part is loyal to the government; it is evident from the overnight success of the government party in the Election.
Earlier the White Group won the major number of seats in different Elections during BNP rule. But after Awami League came to power within one year Blue Group started to win and gradually it got the monopoly of victory.
But it does not mean that no teacher has the conscience or self conscientiousness. Out of the newly appointed ones pro-government teachers are so high in number that not the right judgment or any other thing does win the Elections but the obedience to government party wins it (some of them are compelled to be so).
In the old universities like Dhaka University Vice Chancellors are appointed from amongst the loyal teachers. Winning in different Elections several rounds the ones who are expert in exhibiting loyalty to the persons in power get the appointment. Earlier there was a time when in the event of appointment of the Vice Chancellor the academic excellence and personal image of the incumbent had got importance at least a little. That is why during Awami League period person like A.K. Azad Chowdhury and during BNP period S.M.A. Fayez received the appointment as Vice Chancellor. But afterwards in case of appointment of Vice Chancellor these factors lost significance.
In recent times behind the appointment of Vice-Chancellors of this sort of persons perhaps two matters have played the key role. One, because of coming into power through a questionable Election a fear to the university-based opposition politics (student movement based) of the government has increased. For this reason henchmen assuming the name of student organization has become important here. University Administration formed under the leadership of such type of Vice Chancellor who is blindly obedient to the government can extend support or indulgence to this kind of musclemen. During quota reforms movement we noticed this situation in several Universities of the Country.
During the last ten years consequent upon the establishment of many universities in the country comparatively inexperienced and less competent different teachers also got the opportunity of becoming Vice Chancellor. These partisan Vice Chancellors being grateful stayed more obedient to the government, but exhibited fearless flaccidity in accomplishing the key duty. So we can see in recent time only that staying in Dhaka a Vice Chancellor carries out his responsibility in another district or expels learners incidentally. Out of them those who have the high confidence or pride of getting rid of region-based liabilities how daring they can be- we notice it in the University of Gopalganj at present.
The key problem of a Vice Chancellor is of accountability. He receives the appointment mainly on the basis of his blind obedience to the government. His accountability to this loyalty enables him to run. The proof of this loyalty is exhibited by resisting certain tendency of the teachers and students having different opinion and by blind lauding of the government. The first work is hard. To accomplish this difficult task he equips the teacher administration with the similar minded ones; he extends aggressive loyal teachers free access. In exchange even if he follows hate role in co-existence in the University, standard of education, extension of research works even in the prevention of corruption-persecution he has not to make accountability to anybody. Consequently some VCs turn to become self-willed.
Why does a Vice Chancellor do or he is compelled to do those things? Because we have about to forget the real functions of a Vice Chancellor in a country. The actual work of the university is not to extend knowledge only but to create knowledge (research) and to apply the same (practical application of research).
Here in our country the fundamental function is the first one. That one is done how unimportantly also is being stated with example: What is done here in the name of research in most cases is of low standard and chiefly written in the hope of promotion. Even 15-20 years back except a standard Ph.D. degree and 15-20 research works including some writings in the foreign journals the probability of becoming a professor could not be thought of. Now the conditions have changed.
In many departments of government universities in Bangladesh the number of the professors is greater than rest of the teachers.
In Bangladesh one of the tasks of the universities is to show blind obedience to the government through bringing the man-woman in the public meeting, praising the government shivering the roads and highways and repressing toughly any protest done against the misdeeds of the government. Whereas it was the tradition of the old universities in Bangladesh to make demonstration against any injustice by the government. As yet the leftist organizations, general students or few teachers do it. But the major portion remains busy to smash them. Many persons remain calm for fear of troubles. These anti establishment organizations have now been turned into most pro-establishment organizations. This has been done by placing the teachers in different positions, by extending freedom from different misdeeds, by providing the students unjust power and giving opportunity to earn illegal riches.
The CEO of this process is the Vice Chancellor of today. To save the universities side by side this CEO along with those persons who appoint them are to be brought under accountability.E
* Professor, Department of Law, University of Dhaka
** Translated into English by ‘The Economy’ Analyst.