Dhaka University Centenary Celebration

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It is a matter of pride and joy that the University of Dhaka, known as the University of Dhaka (DU), has completed its 100-year journey. Last Thursday, July 1, 2021, marked the centenary of the country’s first university, considered “the highest level of academic excellence in the country”. The moment deserves a grand and festively lit celebration. A new wave of deadly coronavirus, however, is forcing the festival to limit itself to a modest level.

Nonetheless, the 100 years of Dhaka University also provides an opportunity to comprehensively and critically examine the achievements and failures of the educational institution. Unfortunately, very little action has been taken so far in this regard, despite the intelligence and resources required to accomplish the task, which is difficult. Instead, the focus is on cheap, popular events where serious work and phenomenal achievement takes a back seat.

Take the university’s website, for example. The site has a section dedicated to ‘DU 100 years’ (https://100.du.ac.bd/bn). However, one must be disappointed when visiting the section. With the exception of one video, almost every “page is under construction” under menus like events, stories, history or memories. In today’s world, when a small institution has a well-designed and very informative website, failure to create the “DU 100 years” site with minimal resources reflects the lack of seriousness and dedication. . Again, on the main Dhaka University website, the “historical plan” is displayed with unacceptable errors. For example, Sher-e-Bangla AK Fazlul Huq’s name is misspelled as “Fazlul Hug”. The timeline also did not mention that lawyer Sahibzada Aftab Ahmad Khan, a non-Bengali and former vice-chancellor of Aligarh University, had proposed in December 1906 to establish a university in East Bengal. There is also no mention that in April 1910 Babu Annago Mohan Naha proposed to establish the University of Dhaka to the Legislative Council of East Bengal and Assam.

It is also pathetic that the authorities at Dhaka University have failed to prepare and publish a full history of the institution. Although the university library and archives have ingenious material in English, Urdu and Farsi, there are few initiatives to translate and publish some relevant material showing the historical significance of the university. Rashed Rahom, a young researcher, prepared a plan to compile and publish a book on the background and historical documents of the founding of the University of Dhaka. Other young researchers could also follow suit. All they need is adequate support and guidance from leading academics to get the job done.

Dhaka University authorities and a section of teachers and alumni appear to be satisfied with the current status of the university. They ignore the fact that the institution has already fallen behind in creating and disseminating the knowledge and skills required for global competition. Many are also happy to remember the glorious tradition mainly linked to political movements and student resistance against various oppressive regimes. None of them are prepared to revisit the past of “East Oxford” critically, identify loopholes in the academic and administrative arena, and restructure the institution to prepare for future changes. inevitable. The space for open debate and discussion has already shrunk at the university, support for global research is very low. A narrow centennial celebration reflects the absence of a pragmatic, long-term vision.

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