• Thursday, Jul 02, 2020
  • Last Update : 12:06 pm

Public universities moving toward online classes

  • Published at 01:09 pm May 20th, 2020
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However, special arrangements have also been made for those who cannot engage in online classes, so that they too can complete their education life smoothly

Despite some limitations, public universities are in favour of continuing classes online to save students’ careers by ensuring quality education during the pandemic.

The university authorities said students were not present in 100% of the classes during previous or normal times.

However, special arrangements have also been made for those who cannot engage in online classes, so that they too can complete their education life smoothly.

Although students are facing financial crisis, lack of technological equipment, limitations in taking practical classes online, as well as mental disturbance due to the pandemic, if the universities wait for the situation to become normal then too students will face hardships.

University Grants Commission (UGC) had previously allowed private universities to take classes online, but public universities fell behind due to lacking the facilities necessary for continuing classes online. 

“UGC is considering forming a unified policy which would be applicable to all public and private universities, and we will also provide  all kinds of logistic support to help the Education Ministry,” said UGC Chairman Prof Kazi Shahidullah.

Public university authorities

Vice-chancellors (VC) of most public universities told Dhaka Tribune that they will take practical classes which are mandatory after the pandemic, but they want to take online classes for now. 

They also said that they plan to continue online classes even after the pandemic.

Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST) VC Prof Farid Uddin Ahmed said all necessary steps have been taken to conduct the online classes.

“We are also providing support to our students who are in financial crisis. We have already provided Tk3,000 to students who are in need. We will continue providing this support,” said Farid Uddin Ahmed.

He also said: “If any student reaches out to us or fails to participate online, we will especially take care of that student.”

A similar stance was taken by the vice-chancellors of the rest of the technological universities, special universities, and other general public universities.

Echoing the statement of  SUST VC, Dhaka university’s VC Prof Md Akhtaruzzaman said it is possible to take online classes if both students and teachers have smartphones, laptops, bandwidth, and other tools. 

“However, the university must have its own IT infrastructure to ensure and conduct the online classes. We need to consider the students’ and teachers’ demands and provide technological facilities as necessary, only then would it be possible to take online classes amid such a pandemic,” he said.

He further said that most of the students are staying at home in different parts of the country and do not have the ability to participate in online classes due to lack of internet and other technical facilities. 

“If we can provide an internet facility then pandemic situations do not matter,” he added.

Jahangirnagar University VC Farzana said: “Our teachers are willing to take the online classes but we have three basic problems - financial, academic, and mental condition of the students. 

“The teachers are working on these issues. And they have also informed UGC about the drawbacks.”

National University Prof Dr Harun-ur-Rashid said around 2.8 to 2.9 million students and 60,000 teachers are involved in around 2,300 affiliated colleges under National University. 

Of the colleges, only 200 to 250 are able to conduct online classes.

“We have submitted a proposal to UGC about the need to develop a learning management system, unified education web portal, and digital education based tools if we want to ensure student participation,” said Harun-ur-Rashid.

He expects that, when the situation becomes normal, they can run a crash program to complete the rest of the syllabus.

Private universities

Private universities have been continuing their classes online for some time now.

Association of Private Universities of Bangladesh (APUB) President Sheikh Kabir Hossain said: “To ensure quality education we are providing all necessary facilities to the private universities so that students can easily complete their semester without any hassle and session jam.”

From the beginning, private universities have been keen to conduct online classes and exams.

Earlier on May 7, UGC allowed private universities to hold online exams in order to complete ongoing semesters where almost 70% of the syllabus was already completed with at least 60% of students being present.

Ministry of Education

Deputy Minister for Education Mohibul Hasan Chowdhury Nowfel said halting academic activities was not an option.

He said: “One needs to conduct academic activities with what one has.”

On Saturday, an eight-member committee was formed to unify the guidelines of all universities, led by UGC member, Prof Dil Afroza Begum.

As part of the various steps the Education Ministry and UGC are trying to televise classes for students pursuing higher education.

The government has already aired lessons on BTV and Sangsad TV for school and college students to continue their education while staying home amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Educational institutions all across the country have been closed since April 16 as the government was forced to impose a “general holiday” to control the Covid-19 outbreak in the country.

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