No more honours everywhere

In a bid to develop the standard of education, the government has decided to stop approving all the colleges to open honours courses.

From now on, colleges willing to provide honours degrees have to maintain some particular standards to get the government approval. The colleges must have adequate infrastructure to get the approval, said sources concerned.

A senior official from education ministry said colleges situated at different remote areas of the country must have spacious classroom, separate seminar room and library, and above all, at least seven teachers for every subject to get government permission for honours courses.

The education ministry has already sent a letter to National University authorities informing the decision, he added.

According to education ministry sources, since the establishment of the National University in the year 1992, honours and masters courses have been introduced in 859 colleges across the country.

Of these, there are 299 government colleges and 302 newly nationalised colleges at the upazila level. In addition, there are 256 private colleges. About eight lakh students are taking higher education in these private colleges. The monthly fee of the honours students at government college is only Tk 25 while in private colleges it is Tk 400 to Tk 1500.

Many teachers say that in some private colleges, teachers get a nominal amount of honorarium of Tk 2,500 to Tk 10,000. Many colleges do not even offer that every month.

They said that in many cases, the national university does not uphold the government's law in hiring teachers. Although there is a provision for hiring teachers through the NTRCA, the national university does not follow the rules in many cases. The main reason for this is the recruitment laws of the college authorities and the approval of the national university. In order to approve an honours course in any subject, the National University steps in and withdraws money from the college.

Sources said that the teachers who take the honours and masters level classes at private colleges did not receive the government salary and not even included in the MPO. The Private Honours-Masters College Teachers Council has been protesting for a long time to change this policy of the government.

The leader of the organization and a private college lecturer in Kurigram, Haroon Aur Rashid, said that the national university authorities are allowing the opening of honours in different colleges but they are not taking any responsibility for the teachers.

The authorities of the National University have handed over the responsibility of salaries to the college authorities despite knowing about the plight of the teachers in the private honours colleges. They do not think of a way to pay for teachers who have already been hired. In this case, higher quality of education will not be possible if these teachers are not included under MPOs.

Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni said the government plans to set up universities in each district of the country. Therefore, it is necessary to reconsider the Honours and Masters courses in the Upazila and town area colleges. Besides, the quality, requirements and applicability of education in those institutions were not taken into consideration before being allowed to open Honours and Masters courses. Because of this, there are lots of educated unemployed people being created every year. It is a big burden for the nation. The Minister said that different activities will be initiated in this concern.

It is learned that in the case of institution affiliation under the National University, the number of teachers, students, three-year results, infrastructure, library and books, etc. are required to be fulfilled. In most cases it was not obeyed. Many colleges have been accused of affiliating with political considerations.

There are rules for supervising and renewing affiliations after the conditional approval of the Honours Course. However, in reality there is no evidence of a college visit for the second time after affiliation.