What Awami League general secretary and minister for Road Transport and Bridges, Obaidul Quader has said about the university administration and student politics is true, but he has completely avoided the responsibility of his party. He complained that those in charge of the educational institutions, blindly follow the instructions of influential student leaders. Their lack of personality has severely damaged the dignity of teaching.
Although Obaidul Quader spoke about influential student leaders, he did not reveal how they became influential and under whose patronage. But the people understand well that these influential student leaders are from the pro-government student organisation. During the tenure of different governments, the university administration is dominated by those in power.
However, this has increased during the Awami League regime due to being in power for more than 12 consecutive years. Also, there is virtually no opposition student organisation in the universities now. It is no secret how the pro-government student organisations have established their control over the universities through the 'gonoroom' (mass room) culture. General students have been humiliated and tortured for protesting.
Obaidul Quader said a bad precedent was being set in the recruitment of teachers in many universities. But he could not speak of any action against those who are setting such example. He did not say why student politics is losing its appeal. No election has been held in public universities for three decades. After the victory of the non-Awami League student organisation in the election held at Dhaka University after a long time, the university authorities avoided holding any election again. However, there is no alternative to regular student elections for the smooth and healthy practice of student politics in the university.
Obaidul Quader's statement is true but how will his government avoid the responsibility of this situation? Such statements will do nothing to change the situation. How will Obaidul Quader explain why merit and qualification is not considered as the only criteria in recruitments and postings at the universities? Why has party loyalty become the biggest qualification? What is the reason behind the appointment of 138 people on the last working day by a former vice-chancellor of Rajshahi University, defying the Ministry of Education and UGC? Why the government did not take any action against him?
The allegation that the ruling student body is involved in the development projects of the university is nothing new, but no action has been taken against it. Educationist Syed Manzoorul Islam rightly said that the ruling party needs to have a clear role in stopping these irregularities in the university. Whether an environment conducive to learning will be ensured in there institutions of higher education, depends on how the government tackles the current trend of student politics.
The Awami League general secretary regretted that no university in Bangladesh could secure a place among the top 50 universities in the world. But what steps has the government taken to improve the quality of higher education? Bangladesh has the lowest rate of allocation for education among the South Asian countries. In order to improve the quality of education, it is necessary to increase the allocation for education and ensure its proper use.
The quality and environment of education in the university cannot be ensured unless the factionalism and clashes that are going on in the name of student politics is brought to an end. And it is the government's responsibility to do so.