DU played undaunting role in expansion of women education: Prof Arefin
The country’s premier university-Dhaka University played an undaunting role since its establishment on July 1 nearly 100 years back, contributing to social progress, cultural expansion and politics of this soil.
The university, which started its journey with only a single female student, nowadays witnesses a scenario where female students are exceeding their male counterparts in getting chances for admission into the university, a significant milestone in women education.
“The Dhaka University played a pioneering role in expansion and flourishing of women education as well as women development in its long journey of nearly 100 years since its inspection in 1921,” noted academician Prof AAMS Arefin Siddique told BSS in an exclusive interview as the university marked its 99th founding anniversary on Wednesday.
Siddique, also a former vice-chancellor of DU, said when the country’s oldest and biggest seat of learning and first university in the then East Bengal started its journey, the number of female students was very few but now female students are almost half of its total students.
“In 1940s or 50s, there was a trend in the university that female students would enter the classroom after the teacher’s entrance and then male students would enter. After the end of classes, at first female students would leave the classroom and then teacher would come out followed by male students,” he said.
Citing some examples of social conservativeness during that period, the educationist said, even the proctorial rules of the university had a custom of making fine if male or female students would talk to their opposite genders.
Siddique, also a professor of mass communication and journalism at the DU, said conservative behavior and superstition were the way of the university students during that period.
“So, from that position, we have come to today’s position and the contributions of Dhaka University behind the remarkable change will never be denied,” he said adding that the university had also an extraordinary role in the field of politics.
The former vice-chancellor of DU said the university students had laid down their lives for attaining recognition for their mother tongue and its teachers and students embraced martyrdom unflinchingly to attain independence of their motherland.
“It is our pride that our Father of the Nation and the architect of the independent Bangladesh was a student of the university. Since his student life at the university, he waged different movements and prepared his fellow students in such a way that it resulted in the 1952 Language Movement, and they remained ready to lay down their lives for saving their mother, mother tongue, motherland,” he revisited the history.
He said these were the mindset of the students that mother, mother tongue and motherland are interwoven ; and Bangabandhu and the university students had played a pivotal role in infusing that spirit among people and that is why they got ready to embrace martyrdom to free the nation from the long subjugation of Pakistani oppressors.
Amid glorified chapters of the university’s 100 years journey, there were some painful and regretful events in that university, for example the person who is the Father of the Nation and who led the nation to attain independence had been expelled from the university on Mach 26 in 1949, along with few other fellow students, he said.
Siddique said young Sheikh Mujib, who was a student leader of that time, was permanently expelled from the DU by the then university authorities under the direct order of the then government, for expressing solidarity with the movement of the university’s lower salaried employees who were subjected to different discriminations.
Bangabandhu’s siding with the movement of the fourth-class employees was very logical but it was considered as an “offence” by the then authorities, the ex-VC said adding that but when Bangabandhu was leaving the university he (Bangabandhu) said he would again come back to the university and he truly came back to the university not as a student but as its chancellor.
“Bangabandhu was supposed to come to the university to meet and spend some moments with its teachers and students and to open some structures and these were programmes of the university and the government in the morning of August 15, 1975 but he was brutally assassinated before the dawn,” he recalled.
So, Bangabandhu had very deep relations with the Dhaka University, and he always gave much importance to any interest of the university-big or small, he added.
Citing an incident of 1972, Siddiqui said when students kept besieged the then DU vice-chancellor along with few teachers to press home their demand for auto promotion and deferring of examinations in the newly born Bangladesh, Bangabandhu directly came to the university and entered the room of the VC and neutralized the situation.
The former DU vice-chancellor said Bangabandhu had made a remarkable job by giving the Dhaka University Order, 1973 that ensures the autonomy of the university.
“Bangabandhu used to respect the university teachers and students and gave dignity to them, that is why after the independence, he abolished the black law under which the university was administered during the Pakistani regime and gave the 1973 order to the university,” he said.
The noted academician said that architect of independent Bangladesh Bangabandhu had a very close ties with and profound love for the university and he had set an instance by giving autonomy to the university.