Although Dhaka University vice-chancellor Md Akhtaruzzaman stressed the need for taking online classes to recoup the losses caused by the suspension of academic activities for coronavirus outbreak, he also opined that internet access of all students needs to be checked before taking any decision in this regard.
“We (DU authority) are working with all the stakeholders to resume academic activities but also considering various aspects," he said and added, "Our deans will coordinate with the departments of their respective faculties to verify the feasibility of online classes and make decisions after ensuring access to technical facilities...it needs to be ensured that students have access to internet facilities."
Many private universities have already started online classes as the UGC on 24 March urged teachers to take online classes so that academic activities are not interrupted.
The DU VC said although some universities have started taking classes online, the DU authorities will not make any hasty decision.
He said not all the students of the university are from the same background and some have very limited access to internet which is mandatory for taking online classes. “We have to think about each student’s interest,” he said.
Akhteruzzaman noted that students may suffer session jam if the coronavirus pandemic persists for unusually long time.
“The threat of session jam is certainly looming. Education system not only in our country but almost in the entire world has come to a halt," he said.
"We are in talks with all the relevant stakeholders for resuming academic activities while also being considerate about the lethality of the pandemic,” Akhteruzzaman said.
Sadeka Halim, dean of social science faculty, Dhaka University, resonated with this statement and said that the university authorities will prioritise the safety of the students, teachers and staff.
"We aren't taking any decision that can put their lives in danger. The pandemic is a global crisis and human life comes before anything else," she said.
She also said the possibilities of online classes are still being assessed and all the deans are in talks with the departments under their respective faculties.
“Not all the students of the university are financially strong and many live in remote areas where internet access is limited. Moving to online classes without considering their troubles will be an unjust move. We’re working to find an alternative," she told UNB.
The DU VC reiterated that the global crisis has put everything in an unforeseen situation but academic council is working to do what is necessary.
“Not a single sector worldwide is unaffected by this crisis...in the past we’ve seen session jams caused by political unrest but those days are long gone. We are facing such a disaster for the first time,” he told UNB.
“We are working to map out possible plans to avert session jams and to ensure that students’ time does not go to waste,” he added.
Across the country, a number of private universities have shifted to online classes to continue academic activities.
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina said educational institutions in the country would remain closed till September next if there is no improvement in the prevailing situation triggered by COVID-19.