Welcome change at JU
WITH the resignation of Shariff Enamul Kabir as vice-chancellor of Jahangirnagar University on Thursday, it appears that the prime minister has kept her word to teachers and students, who had been protesting and rallying for his removal for months, that she would resolve the crisis, in return, asking them to call off protests. The teachers were reportedly told ‘Keep faith in me. I will not disappoint you’ by the prime minister, kept their word and stopped their protests since their meeting with her, and she has certainly not disappointed in return. The prime minister certainly deserves to be congratulated. In fact, both sides need to be congratulated for the manner in which the situation has been handled in the end. Most importantly, however, the vice-chancellor’s resignation is an important victory for the democratically-dissenting students and teachers of Jahangirnagar University.
The teachers of Jahangirnagar under the banner of Shikkhak Samaj, later joined in by the students, had rallied since December 2011 for the resignation or removal of the vice-chancellor. The protests grew stronger after the killing of a student on the campus by Bangladesh Chhatra League activists, said to be loyal to the vice-chancellor, in January. Academic activities were disrupted for a couple of months as teachers had been on strike. The teachers accused the former vice-chancellor of recruiting teachers on political consideration, of irregularities in recruitment, irregularities in allotment of facilities, among other things.
While most people may be glad to see the back of Kabir, it, however, needs to be mentioned that the job remains half-done. The allegations against Kabir were extremely serious and his resignation would indicate that the government also recognises that the protesting teachers and students did indeed have genuine reasons for grievance. The government now needs to thoroughly investigate all allegations against him, and take not just disciplinary action against him, but rectify a lot of the ‘controversial’ decisions taken by Kabir during his tenure. Otherwise, problems may continue to persist at Jahangirnagar University in the long run and may affect the academic activities of one of the premier higher education institutions in the country.
Meanwhile, we also congratulate Professor Anwar Hossain, the newly appointed vice chancellor of Jahangirnagar University, on his new assignment, and also hope that he rids the institution of the instability in the academic environment that dominated his predecessor’s tenure. Furthermore, given Hossain’s often-quoted strong support for the 1973 ordinance that runs public universities in the country, we hope he promptly takes steps to hold elections for the post of the vice-chancellor at Jahangirnagar University, a practice that has been consistently ignored in recent years at all public universities by the authorities.
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