UGC sought the allocation based on a recent survey where around 23,000 teachers and students participated
The Ministry of Education has decided to ensure online classes in public universities so that students do not lag behind or face long session jams amid the coronavirus outbreak, said a ministry official.
However, the UGC has also taken a similar decision and sought special allocation for conducting online classes of the public universities due to a lag in academic activities while the private universities are already conducting online classes.
The UGC sought the allocation based on a recent survey conducted between May 3 and May 18, in which around 23,000 teachers and students participated and shared their opinions.
Through the survey the UGC has learned that all public universities want to conduct online classes but they cannot do so due to financial and technological crises.
A number of students of public universities are living in remote areas with their families and cannot contact their universities or use mobile phones or laptops. Most of the students are now facing financial crises.
Under these circumstances, the UGC has decided to send a letter to the Education Ministry seeking special allocation for classes to be conducted online.
In addition, the UGC has also called a virtual meeting with all vice chancellors (VCs) of public universities on Thursday at 3.30 pm.
The decision was taken at the budget meeting, said UGC Chairman Kazi Shahidullah.
UGC Secretary Prof Ferdous Zaman said: “The government agreed in principle to conduct online classes in public universities even as 38% of students do not have smartphones or laptops.”
“In addition, teachers are also not accustomed to conducting online classes. The UGC learned from the survey of the demands of the public universities,” he added.
The meeting scheduled for Thursday would help the UGC know of their other needs, including financial assistance, he said.
Later, financial allocations will be finalized after meetings with the government and donor agencies, including the Asian Development Bank (ADB), World Bank and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). “It is not possible for the government alone to allocate thousands of crores of taka,” he added.
Though students want to join online classes, they do not have logistics support. Teachers also say that many of their students are not able to make phone calls because their networks at home are not working properly, Ferdous said.
On the other hand, mobile towers have collapsed due to Cyclone Amphan in the southern region of the country. As a result, the university authorities are not able to help their students, said the UGC secretary.
In order to start online classes, everyone's attendance must be ensured. Many have phones but no smartphones. Teachers also say they need laptops to take online classes, said Ferdous.