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Teachers stand against students

Mohiuddin Alamgir

Teachers in Rajshahi University have stood against students over the move for the introduction of evening courses on a commercial basis as all but a handful of teachers irrespective of party leaning are supporting the move, with the students, excluding Chhatra League activists, and a handful of teachers standing against the move.
General students have held protests since January 6 against the increase in fees and the introduction of evening courses under social sciences faculty.
Students on demonstrations alleged that the authorities were trying to introduce evening courses just for ‘financial benefit of teachers.’
Teachers, however, argued that the University Grants Commission has always asked them to increase the university earning and evening courses could be a good source for it as university course certificates are on a high demand in getting jobs.
They also said that the classrooms in the university remain unoccupied in the evening for which such courses could be introduced to earn money.
The ruling party-backed Chhatra League, along with the police, on February 2 attacked the students who were protesting against increased fees and the university move to introduce evening courses on a commercial basis.
More than 100 students were injured and 20 of them are said to have been hit with bullets.
Student protests coordinator Ayatollah Khomeni, also president of the Bangladesh Students Union, and the university unit Chhatra Dal convener Arafat Reza Ashik both said that the authorities were trying to make the university a profit-making venture and departments were interested in opening evening courses as teachers would get paid ‘additional’ money and benefits from such evening courses run commercially.
Departments of mass communications and journalism, public administration, sociology, social works, anthropology, economics, folklore and library science under the social science faculty are trying to introduce evening master’s courses.
The social sciences dean Ansar Uddin said that there are some ‘commercial motive’ of evening courses but it was not the ‘commercialisation’ of education as students were calling it.
‘The UGC always aks us to increase internal earning and evening courses could be a source of good earning. There are growing demands for university degrees and many students go to private universities in Rajshahi. So we have decided to run evening courses,’ he said. ‘Classrooms also remain unoccupied in the evening.’
He said that such evening courses would earn the university some money and the departments. He said that 20 per cent of earning from the courses would get deposited to the university fund and some money would go to the departments.
The Rajshahi University Teachers’ Association general secretary, Sultan Ul Islam, also a leader of the ruling Awami League-backed teachers’ forum, said that the association had decided to support the social sciences faculty decision.
Shamsul Alam Sarkar, convener of the pro-BNP Jatiyatabadi Shikkhak Samaj, said that they had not protested at the social sciences faculty move to introduce evening courses.
Some teachers, however, are protesting at at the move. Journalism teacher Selim Reza Newton, who is one among them, said that teachers were not getting aware of the danger of such evening courses run with a ‘commercial motive.’
‘With the current manpower, departments fail to publish results in time. Many departments are running behind the schedule by six months to two years. Evening courses will only compound the situation.’
Anthropology teacher Bakhtiar Ahmed said that ‘commercially run master’s courses’ would create disparity. Some students would be paying more than others to study the same course.
‘The teachers will be more interested in evening courses as they would get money from them,’ he said. 
If teachers take classes in morning and evening, they will not have enough time for research, he said.
Social sciences dean Ansar Uddin said that there was no chance for student’s academic life being prolonged. ‘We will not do anything that hampers regular courses.’

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