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OP-ED: Looking back on 100 years of Dhaka University

  • Published at 03:09 am July 1st, 2021
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The history of DU in inseparable from the history of Bangladesh

We have a deep relationship with DU. The history of the development of the Bengali nation and the birth of the state of Bangladesh is closely associated with Dhaka University, the heart of the country’s free thinking movement. 

The teachers and students of this university have led the struggle for the dignity of the mother tongue. Fresh blood from chests poured out on the highway; they jumped into the Liberation War with infinite courage. They have always been active in all intellectual and democratic movements for the political-economic-cultural liberation of the beloved motherland. Therefore, Dhaka University is shining in its glory as the main institution that nurtures all the cultural, social, and political traditions of the country. This is what makes DU unique. 

Undoubtedly, there has been a lot of good research, innovation, and creative and thoughtful work at DU in the last 100 years. In the centenary of the birth of the university, we have to carry the tradition of knowledge, research, and political and cultural heritage to the new generation. DU, in line with the progress of science and technology and the needs of the age, started thinking anew about our curriculum, teaching, research, and innovation. 

“Bangabandhu Overseas Scholarship” has been introduced for the teachers of DU. Under this scholarship, our young teachers are getting opportunities for higher education and research in world-renowned universities. This is improving the quality of research of Dhaka University, and it will be useful for the development of the country. 

It is noteworthy that to attract students to study and research at DU, an initiative has been taken to provide scholarships to 10 foreign students under the “Bangabandhu Scholarship for Foreign Students.” 

The history of Dhaka University, often known as Oxford of the East, is not just a history of an educational institution, but a history of overcoming, the history of socio-economic, cultural, and political evolution. DU has contributed the most to the development of national art, literature, and culture. This university has controlled the intellectual world of this country. The glorious role of the students and teachers of Dhaka University in the rise of Bangladesh from the Language Movement cannot be denied. 

The journey of Dhaka University started on July 1, 1921, with limited teachers and students. The first chancellor of Dhaka University was the then Provincial Governor Alexander George Robert Buer. The first vice-chancellor was PJ Hartog. He was the registrar of the University of London for 17 years. The establishment of DU was essential to sustain the progress made in the higher education of the people of East Bengal. 

After the establishment of DU, the students of East Bengal got a chance at modern education, and with the help of this modern education, they got the opportunity to enter the government service. It has not only improved the economy, but also created a cultured middle class. 

DU is now at the top in terms of the number of departments, students, and teachers. In that case, it is necessary to increase the dynamism of interest in studies. We hope that in this age of excellence in communication, intelligent students and teachers will sharpen themselves with new knowledge and innovation.

DU has indeed been catering to the educational needs of students belonging to the middle and lower-middle classes. The admission tests of DU are the toughest in the country. Why has DU been admired by the crowds since its inception? First, the quality of education at the university was of global standard. Secondly, the students of this institution have played the most important roles in the history of Bangladesh. 

One cannot ignore the glorious past of DU when one thinks about it. It’s very interesting to notice that we have always talked about the past whenever any discussion comes up. No one tells us how the university is coping with the demands of the 21st century. In the current global scenario, how should DU prepare its students in terms of nation-building? How many graduates from this institution can enter the corporate world successfully? 

Some intellectuals criticize DU, saying it has deviated from its teaching goal. They claim that DU has been destroyed. They claim that DU has changed a lot in the last 100 years. 

But in the age of globalization and the Fourth Industrial Revolution, considering the good and bad effects of science and technology, DU has been trying to move forward in anticipation of the challenges of the 21st century, which makes us optimistic. It is our expectation that DU will develop the meritorious students of society as skilled human resources with generous, humane, and scientific outlooks. Today is the centenary of the university of our souls -- so march on, Dhaka University with glory, and represent Bangladesh out in the world! 

Hiren Pandit is a Research Fellow, BNNRC.

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