Job Security and Professional Development at our Private Universities
E A Prince, In-charge, Law and Human Rights banglanews24.com
Privatization of education in tertiary level in Bangladesh has created a plenty of job opportunities for the teachers and employees. But job security and professional development in these institutions are in poor state requiring quick action from the concerned authorities. Constant monitoring by the University Grants Commission (UGC) and Ministry of Education (MoE) is urgent for the greater interest of the students, teachers and employees.
Academic activities including class hours of the teachers are being monitored by the authority in some private universities. It is alleged that few private universities are monitoring the class hours of the teachers by the office support staffs (OSS).
The OSS are watching whether teachers are coming on time to entry into class and staying in the class for the stipulated period or not, though they are practically unable to measure the performance of a teacher.
In the Private University Act (PUA), 2010 it is well mentioned that the number of adjunct faculties will be one third of the permanent faculties but then again in many private universities the number of adjunct faculties has outnumbered the permanent faculties as opposite to the lawful requirement.
Many adjunct faculties being the members of the government service in different Ministries are taking classes in four or five universities mostly on Fridays and Saturdays. Especially there are more than 30 private universities have law departments with the programmes of LLB (Hons), LLB (Two Years) and LLM and here the judges who are in deportation or in lien from their services in different departments in Dhaka and its adjacent districts are extremely busy for taking classes without due permission from the concern departments of the government.
It is shameful to mention that in many private universities adoption of unfair means is a common trend of the students. Although, young academics are dead against such trend while the owners or their agents who are holding different high level post are favouring the corrupt students not the academics.
In fact, the universities which are conducting evening shift apart from day shift are in the hot list of adoption of unfair means. It is alleged that UGC and the MoE off and on send caution to the university authorities the consequences for not having permanent campus or building but never ever enquire into students’ teachers’ ratio, stocks of books in library, laboratory facility for science students, class room environment and service rules for the teachers and employees.
According to PUA six percent students will be allowed to study without any tuition fee. Out of six percent three percent will be belonging to sons and daughters of the freedom fighters and the rest of the three percent will be belonging to poor but meritorious students. Anomalies and violation of such provision can also be found in some private universities.
Some universities offer appointment letter to the selected teachers just before one or two days of the commencement of class. There is no system of faculty orientation, training and workshop for professional development in most of the private universities. Sometimes private universities are organizing seminars and symposiums with the participation of the delegates of UGC or other bodies to draw the attention of the admission seekers. University is a place for nourishing the notion of free knowledge, intellect and wit but in private universities there is no autonomy as well as such opportunity for teachers and employees.
In many universities electronic punching machines have been set up for ensuring presence of teachers and employees for 36 hours to 40 hours per week.
In some down grading private universities the newly appointed VCs and Pro VCs are going to call on the chairman of the board of trustees with flower bouquet going to their offices or industries while in the upgrading universities chairman of the broad of trustees are offering the flower bouquet to the newly appointed VCs and Pro VCs visiting their respective offices.
The power imbalance between academic high ups and members of the broad of trustees is a great concern for the professional development of the teachers and employees. The new PUA, 2010 is enacted with a big expectation so that education cannot be treated as a commodity whereas in practice the purpose is ignored.
Basically the PUA supports the interest of the owners who are the investors for the private universities in Bangladesh.
In US and European countries governments do not discriminate in providing funds both in public and private universities and here in Bangladesh our government is not in such position to do so. In a handful of private universities teachers and employees are enjoying liberty and autonomy to develop their latent potentialities while in most of the institutions they are kept captive in terms of hard and fast rules imposed by the owners of these universities.
Most university authorities welcome departure of senior faculties and welcome lecturers as because they can save money by giving more courses to the lecturers with less amount of remuneration.
The environment of taking private university job as a service or career goal except few institutions is unrealistic. For the beginners the job opportunity in a private university is lucrative but after few years dream is being shattered observing the attitudes of the job providers and their loyal agents.
Teachers are being evaluated by the students in every semester and in case of poor evaluation reports concerning the job performances their jobs are not regularized and they are not promoted. Meeting after meeting the authorities defer the date of promotion of faculties and employees but the boards of trustees are receiving remuneration after joining every meeting.
There are provisions regarding the of age of retirement of the government service holders and even teachers in public universities but it is the weakness that there is no provision relating retirement of teachers and administrators in private universities. As a result after getting job these retired teachers and employees of the government are sticking to private university services even without bothering to sacrifice their dignity and personality. The old fellows are worsening the job environment and service security for the young and mid level teachers and employees.
The present UGC chairman affiliated with a private university as a resource person for quite a long time and he knows the insights of the private universities in Bangladesh but after taking over the responsibility he is yet to take steps for ameliorating the dark situation on job security and professional development of around 20,000 teachers and employees in 54 private universities.
It was heard that the government’s initiatives about accreditation council as per section 38 of the PUA were in the final stage to monitor and check the malpractices of private universities but when it would start functioning?
The writer is a faculty of Law of Southeast University EAP
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