The Financial Express

DU centenary celebration: Past vs present

| Updated: December 12, 2021 17:57:08

A partial view of Curzon Hall, University of Dhaka A partial view of Curzon Hall, University of Dhaka

The University of Dhaka stepped into its hundredth year on July 01, 2021. However, the centennial celebrations started on December 01 due to Covid restrictions.
Dhaka University (DU) started its glorious journey a hundred years ago, in 1921, with only three faculties, 12 departments, three dormitories, 60 teachers, and 877 students on a 600-acre area of land. Today it has blossomed into a giant educational and political powerhouse in all aspects with 84 departments, 13 institutes, 1,992 teachers, 37,018 students, and 56 research centres.
Since its earliest days, the University of Dhaka has played the most significant role in the political, social, cultural, and economic transformation of this region. It became the site where orthodox and liberal ideals intersected and where the structural and ideological reshaping of the new middle class that emerged in post-independent Bangladesh formed.
The students and teachers of DU were the pioneers in every movement including the language movement of 1952, the non-cooperation movement of 1966, the mass uprising of 1969, the great liberation war of 1971, and the anti-authoritarian movement.
This is the university that had the reputation and ability to provide Doctor of Literature (D.Litt) to personalities like Sir Abdur Rahim, Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose, Sir Prafulla Chandra Roy, Sir Jadunath Sarkar, Sir Mohammad Iqbal, Rabindranath Tagore, and Sarat Chandra Chatterjee, among others. Often referred to as the 'Oxford of the East', this highest echelon of academic excellence of the country has many past achievements to boast about.
When it comes to counting the achievements in recent times, there is a common opinion shared by most of the students and teachers of Dhaka University, and that is-- the institution hasn't been able to hold its esteemed past reputation.
Tauhid Hasan, pursuing his master's from the Linguistics Department of Dhaka University, compared DU with IIT Kharagpur, which was established in 1951 but has achieved significance throughout the sub-continent and around the world. Whereas Dhaka University, in its 100th year, is lagging far behind that institution.
"Improving the research performance rank, establishing new halls for students, and most importantly abating the highly politicised system are the areas the authorities should be focusing on," remarked Tauhid.
Speaking of improvements, Fatema Tasnim's expectations are to enhance the number of international students. This juxtaposition helps the students to get in touch with flavours of not only cultural but also historical diversities.
On a brighter note, the sophomore from the English Department of Dhaka University rejoiced, "It was beyond assumptions even 20 years back from now that it will come under digitalisation. The students will attend classes online during a pandemic, educational email addresses will be provided to each student, and much more."
When it comes to raising voices and protesting for rights, Dhaka University still holds the reputation for being the leading force. But things take a turn for the worse when certain groups try to suppress those voices. "It's saddening that both these parties are students of the same university," sorrowfully said Rawnak Islam.
"Even though our university has lost much of its glory to politicisation, lack of research and publishing, and accommodation problems, it's still a station for the best minds of the country. And I like to believe that DU will regain its glory through the beautiful minds it fosters," said the hopeful final year student from Mass Communication and Journalism Department of Dhaka University.
Dhaka University has made it to the 801-1,000 slots of the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2022 after five years. This has added to the centenary celebrations of the university.

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