The Dhaka University has once again agreed to take back under its jurisdiction the seven famous Dhaka city colleges like Dhaka College, Eden Mohila College and Shaheed Suhrawardi College. Some of these colleges where BSS Honours and Master's courses are taught were once under the Dhaka University when the National University was not there. All colleges across the country were brought under the National University after it was established. But dual administration was always there in the colleges; the secondary section, which consists of 11th and 12th classes, was under the regional education boards and the degree section comprising Bachelor of Arts, Science and Commerce were under the Ministry of Education. Appointments and transfers of teachers as well as preparation of academic syllabuses for Bachelor level, in consultation with universities, were done by the Ministry of Education. After the establishment of the National University, preparation of syllabuses and conducting of examinations were vested with it, but teachers' appointments and transfers remained with the ministry dealing with government colleges.
In Bangladesh, there are three types of colleges depending on wherefrom they receive funds. The government colleges are all under government control dealing with fund allocation as well as teachers' appointment. There is another type of colleges which are partly funded by the government with the rest of funds coming from their own sources. Yet there are colleges which are absolutely under private management; these colleges don't accept any financial assistance from the government but follow the same syllabuses as prescribed by the government-run academic boards or the Ministry of Education. These also send their students to sit for examinations conducted by the boards or the National University.
Once there were a number of 'pride' colleges, set up during the British rule or early in Pakistan period, located mostly in the old district towns. These institutions lost their glory over time when they were brought under the National University since the beginning of the 1990s. The number of colleges is now too many to be administered efficiently by the National University.
We still remember stories about the golden days of colleges like Rajshahi College, BM College, Barisal, Rajendra College, Faridpur, Chittagong College and Victoria College, Comilla, but we hear nothing good of them now. At that time, colleges competed against each other for academic excellence. Many teachers of these colleges opted for teaching by giving up their jobs in the bureaucracy simply because these colleges used to offer better salary than the bureaucracy and also jobs there carried more respect. These colleges were simply brought down to the level of ordinary ones when these were brought under the National University.
We, as students studying at secondary level, knew that many good teachers in those colleges were no less in caliber, academically, than their counterparts in the universities. Promotion of teachers in government colleges and that in the famous privately-managed colleges was not that easy. They were required to publish research articles in reputed academic journals for promotion. Those glorious days of college education are now lost forever.
The Prime Minister has of late felt the need of retrieving the glories of the famous colleges. She, accordingly,instructed that these colleges be affiliated with public universities. Following the instruction from the office of the Prime Minister, the Dhaka University authorities sat down with the principals of the seven city government colleges to talk about their re-affiliation. The move is a welcome one, and if executed, we believe, these colleges will get back their old glories again. We hope other famous colleges will also be affiliated with the old public universities. If necessary, teachers from public universities may be deputed to the newly-affiliated colleges for temporary period.
The writer is Professor of Economics, University of Dhaka.