Expectation of the founding anniversary during the epidemic
Today is the birthday of Rajshahi University. The university completed 67 years of glory. In the past years, glorious birthdays were celebrated, but this time it is not happening. We all know that almost all the countries of the world including Bangladesh are plagued by Covid-19 epidemic. Public life is going on through the news of unknown panic and untimely death.
Dhaka, Chittagong and other densely populated cities have higher rates of corona infection. Many parts of the country are under lockdown due to maintaining social distance and being affected. As a result, educational institutions across the country are now closed. Rajshahi University class-examination has been declared closed from March 18, 2020. The students have left the campus and are currently staying at their respective homes.
Although there is a small amount of official work, all the activities of education and research are basically non-existent. Celebrating a festive birthday in such a catastrophic situation is inappropriate. In any case, even though there is not as much excitement-emotion-excitement as every time on this birthday, all the students-teachers-officers-employees are determined to build a beautiful future of Rajshahi University. The Rajshahi University family will surely be able to deal with this crisis situation.
The most important thing at the moment is to get the students back to school. Universities in the developed world have been able to continue online education with the help of the Internet in times of disaster. Even many private universities and English medium schools in Bangladesh have been able to run online class-examinations. But it is sad but true that the public universities of the country including Rajshahi University have not been able to provide adequate infrastructure and necessary facilities for the students to conduct online education.
Although our students are forced to take digital ID cards, they have not yet found any means of digital use. Although internet services have been extended to all parts of the campus, no arrangements have been made for e-mail communication and online learning between teachers and students.
Although social media like Facebook is widely used, the culture of online course registration, giving and receiving course materials, making results and consulting students and teachers has not developed. Rajshahi University’s internet services are largely limited to research by a handful of teachers, communication with foreigners, conducting first-year admissions, and students watching songs or movies on Facebook and YouTube.
One thing is undeniable, however, that no matter how much and how slowly; Rajshahi University is on the path of development with a reputation among the big universities of the country. According to the Webometrics Ranking of World Universities, three universities in Bangladesh have been ranked among the top 100 universities in South Asia in 2020. Along with BUET and Dhaka University, Rajshahi University is also on the list.
Almost all the departments of the university have already developed their curriculum, examination methods and research to international standards through the development of new curricula. Several faculties have started semester based activities. It is to be noted that almost all the faculties have completed all the preparations to start semester based activities from 2020.
The recent trend of admission of foreign students shows that Rajshahi University is fully prepared to enter the international arena. In order to ensure quality research, crocodile audit has been started from 2019. Apart from this, in an effort to make the students and teachers more interested in research, the university has started special workshops centrally and different departments and faculties separately.
The Central Library of Rajshahi University has become more modern than before. Hardcopies or softcopies of 40,000 world-renowned journals, 350,000 books and numerous reports are available here. In addition, the library administration regularly organizes training workshops.
But the regret is that the above achievements are worthless today. Although modern facilities were introduced in Rajshahi University, none of the teachers and students were able to use them satisfactorily. In many cases, the study style and research have remained the same. This requires a radical change. All the teachers and students have to start a new trend by making effective use of the digital infrastructure that has been developed.
If the university had such preparation in the past, it would have been very easy to start online education during this disaster.Online learning is not something that can be started yet, but it is not. The Grants Commission (UGC) and the university administration can do this, albeit to a lesser extent. For this, first of all, it will be necessary to bring the students under the computer and internet service.
In addition, teachers and staff must provide the necessary training. Many may argue that where students are not getting enough to feed their families, how can they study online? Sad but true is the fact that many of our students are living miserably with unearned families. I believe the number of such families is very low. The government and the university administration can identify such students if they want.
In other words, online based education is possible only if measures are taken considering the condition of the students. Although the news of various initiatives of UGC in this regard has been published in newspapers, the implementation of them seems to be slow. Therefore, it is expected that even though some students are lagging behind, online education should be started soon considering the overall interest.
Although practical classes and exams cannot be taken online, at least theoretical classes can be introduced. Relevant course teachers will take the classes online and record videos of them. Students will not be able to attend directly but will be able to view classes online later.
It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post. In the last four months, there has been a serious loss of education and research. To make up for this loss, however, there is no alternative but to start online activities. We have no time to sit still, even if there are different opinions for and against.
Therefore, on the birthday of Rajshahi University, it is expected that soon the teachers and students will concentrate on their studies and research. Finally, I wish the Rajshahi University family well.
Written by: Dr. Md. Masood Parvez Rana
Professor, Department of Geography and Ecology, Rajshahi University