2 months ago


What varsity students eat during Ramadan

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This is for the first time Samia Noor is fasting during the holy month of Ramadan away from home. Like many other residential students of Dhaka University, she is staying away from her family for her mid-term exams. And it is not easy for her to observe fasting at a time when her exam is going on. Apart from a busy schedule at her university, what worries her most is getting sehri meal on time. For this, she has to wake up at 2:00am and stand in queue at her hall canteen long before sehri meals are served. If she is late, she may not get the meal. After standing queue for an hour or so, what she finds on her plate is a tiny piece of chicken or fish, a vegetable curry and rice. And for this meal, she has to pay Tk 80-90, which was Tk 50-60 before the month of Ramadan. Samia is a first-year student. And she lives in a residential hall which does not allow her to go out late night. So, she cannot buy or eat Sehri  outside. She does not even have cooking facilities at her hall as she stays in a Gono Room, a dormitory room where many students have to stay together due to accommodation problems.

Like Samia, hundreds of university students across the country are now fully dependent on canteen food. And they are struggling to bear the costs of food as canteen owners in all residential halls have increased prices of food items from the first day of Ramadan. They are now charging students Tk 20-30 more for a meal. However, the quality of food has not improved at all. According to a cook of a residential hall at DU, they even make 25 pieces from one kilogram of chicken. And, the rule for fish is making as many pieces as possible. The daal (lentils) in the canteen is yellowish water. The staple food is made of coarse rice, which too is of the lowest quality in the market. Usually, a student has to spend at least Tk 100 for a decent meal. At the hall canteen, rice is sold at Tk 10 ( you can take as much as you want from the bowl), chicken curry at Tk 60 and fish at 45-50. If anyone wants to have vegetables, it will cost another ten taka. Beef is  the most expensive food. Two small pieces of beef with a piece of potato costs Tk 90, which was Tk 60-65 just before the Ramadan began.

The canteen food that we are talking about is subsidised. So, residential students like Samia deserve to have quality food at lower price. However, this is not happening in any of our public universities possibly because the canteens are mainly controlled by political leaders. If the university authority was in charge of those canteens, general students might get better foods. To help the students during the fasting month of Ramadan, the university authority should take steps to increase subsidy and arrange for cheap but healthy meals for the students.


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