The decision regarding vaccinating the students below 18 is yet to be taken. Although the students above 18 are allowed to get the vaccine, very few of them have been vaccinated.
In this situation, a further delay in reopening the universities would be very unfortunate. The government announced earlier that the universities would reopen in October. Several universities even took preparations to reopen after that announcement.
Later, education minister Dipu Moni said that the universities could be reopened after 27 September, but the final decision would be taken by the respective universities. Dhaka University authorities have decided to open residential halls on 5 October. Several universities have announced to reopen in late October. The lack of cooperation and preparation is apparent in this case too.
According to a Prothom Alo report, most of the university students have not been vaccinated. Nearly half of them have registered for the vaccine. The universities are supposed to provide information regarding the vaccination of the students and the number of registration to the University Grants Commission (UGC). As of 13 September, a total of 24 out of the 51 public universities in the country have provided the required information to the UGC.
It shows that 55 per cent of the students have registered. Of them only 16 per cent have got the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine. However, those 24 universities could not provide complete information of all the students.
On the other hand, the medical colleges reopened on 13 September. It is almost impossible to conduct medical classes online. We appreciate the decision to open medical colleges earlier. Medical education falls under the health ministry and most of the medical students have been vaccinated.
The reason behind the university students lagging behind in terms of getting vaccinated is lack of sincerity. The universities were waiting for the decision of the education ministry which was waiting for the health ministry’s decision. Overall, there was a lack of initiatives and coordination. In protest, a teacher of Jahangirnagar University took a symbolic class demanding the re-opening of the university. Time will say whether such a rightful protest can awaken the government or not.
We think that the health ministry, the education ministry, the UGC and the university authorities cannot avoid the responsibility for the chaotic situation regarding the reopening of educational institutions. Millions of students are still out of their classroom due to the collective failure of authorities concerned. Many are not being able to get back to their residential halls as well.
Listening to the policymakers of the government, it seems that vaccination is not a problem at all. But in reality, things are quite the opposite. They are talking about making arrangements for millions of doses of vaccines for the country but cannot ensure vaccinations for the students of some 30 to 40 universities.
We hope that university students will be vaccinated as soon as possible to ensure their return to the classroom.