Reviving moribund research at Dhaka University essential
There still may be some pride when Dhaka University is regarded as Oxford of the East but, realists, who have followed the institution’s evolution post liberation, will admit that comparison with the premier British institution stems more from a false sense of grandeur. The New Age report published on Monday, revealing the sorry state of research of the apex public academic institution of the country only reinforces the fact that DU has deteriorated in standard over the decades to such an extent that in the last thirty plus years, notable research centres have carried out no significant work.
Acknowledging that a university without regular research is an academic institution stuck in time, a harsh truth is once the pride of the sub-continent, this institution is nowhere in the top academic establishments of Asia anymore. Of course, research and analysis forms only one aspect of measuring a university, but when almost three decades pass without any mentionable breakthrough, social observers need to sit up and take notice.
While there has been an allegation that adequate funds were never allocated, it’s found for 2013-2014 academic year, Tk 2.73 crore has been earmarked for this purpose, which is not a small amount either. While we admit that a prominent academic institution must ensure more funds, there is no valid reason as to why the current financial package cannot help in starting some projects. Reportedly, the Dev Centre for Philosophical Studies, Centre for Advanced Research in Humanities and Nazrul Research Centre haven’t any notable achievement to show since their inception in the 80’s.
Obviously, when new ideas, concepts are not explored, intellectual stagnation sets in, leading inexorably to barren academic output. No wonder, the institution, which, once upon a time had pivotal roles to play in social transformation as well as the formation of political credo, now languishes in the shadows, her students hardly making any mark at the global stage.
From a cursory assessment, research may only seem peripheral to actual academic learning but a more profound level evaluation links it directly to the overall image preservation of the institution along with its social standing. To look at another, often missed angle of the morass, is the oft noticed lackadaisical attitude of teachers, who appear to be more interested in doing research abroad, with the support of a foreign university. Notably, many Bangladeshi academicians have made headlines on foreign soil with the accolades going to other institutions.
If fund crisis is such a critical issue then university authorities must associate with development partners to channel money for research purposes and make noteworthy progress within the country. Curiously, Bangladesh seems to have very little say in how education related development aid is to be used. Consequently, funds are hardly put into diversified sectors. Perhaps it’s time to be vocal as to where money needs to be injected to have some tangible improvement at the highest level of education.
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