Published:  08:54 AM, 11 June 2024

Our Universities Must Work More on Research and Innovation to Raise Academic Height

Our Universities Must Work More on Research and Innovation to Raise Academic Height
A few years back while I was involved in teaching English literature at a private university, I was much astonished to find that most of the students were just occupied with attending classes and participating in exams. Well, going into classrooms and taking part in exams on regular basis are certainly essential things for students but these are not the only things to be done in a university. A university is a place where the curricular as well as the extracurricular qualities of students are supposed to be explored and elevated. A university is not an institution where students are expected to only memorize their lessons to get good grade points at the end of the day. Students undoubtedly need to work hard for securing healthy marks by doing well in exams but that is not the only goal for students who study in universities. Life is not all about classrooms and listening to lectures. At present we are living in the middle of an era where the habits of reading books outside the pages of syllabuses, playing games on open grounds, flying kites, swimming, climbing trees and other blissful amusements have nearly vanished. Nowadays students are so much bogged down with the cumbersome pressure of academic workloads that they do not have time to take a look outside the window to catch a glimpse of the spectacular sunlight or marvelous rainfalls.

Going back to my teaching experience, I found most of the teachers around me doing almost nothing different from what the students were engaged with. I mean to say that most of the teachers are also extensively busy in a lot of universities around us with just conducting classes, doing exam duties and checking answer sheets. Shockingly true that, as far as I have observed, teachers in most of the universities in Bangladesh spend very insufficient time for research on their respective academic subjects. At the same time there is very little or in some cases virtually no encouragement from the authorities of the universities for the teachers to concentrate on research activities. As a result many teachers have very limited academic knowledge which is not at all enough to illuminate their students. In this way students are facing deprivations which they cannot figure out. When universities are devoid of research work, it leads to a mechanical ambience where students do not learn anything except some textual things which puts them in front of insurmountable challenges when they complete their academic studies and confront real life. Perhaps for this reason there are lots of students in our country who fail to prove their command over English language, computing and global affairs when they sit for job tests. This is an observation which I have received from high-ranking officials belonging to reputed private firms and state-run offices. Prominent educationists of our country have also frequently expressed grim concern over the lack of worthwhile knowledge among students in the current times.

When it comes to private universities, most people uphold the opinion that these universities do not pay much attention to research work because it does not directly help to make money. Rather taking higher tuition fees from students and admitting more and more pupils are much more lucrative and profitable than spending time on research as far as private universities in Bangladesh are concerned. However, I would not like to put all private universities of our country on equal terms because some private universities have meanwhile gained much fame for boosting research-oriented avocations among their teachers and learners. Academic analysts have again and again urged the owners of private universities to inspire their teachers and students to think outside the box, to step out of the boundaries of textbooks and to discover their own innovative potentialities which can be expedited through research. But the entrepreneurs who run private universities still do not consider it to be important to build up a research-friendly environment in their institutions. Generating scholars is one of the greatest responsibilities of all universities, not just issuing certificates and mark sheets.

Writing expertise is one of the prerequisites for developing research skills. Research papers need to be written in a foolproof language free of plagiarism. An omnivorous reading habit is also very conducive for moving ahead with research initiatives because the more we read the more we get familiar with the latest ideas springing up from different academic turfs. Reportedly in several private and public universities of Bangladesh, most of the teachers have no involvement with writing activity. I was even puzzled to see that some teachers of private universities in a number of parts across Bangladesh have set up coaching centers at their own houses where they tutor students. Thus these teachers have no time to think about research because they have to teach students inside and outside the campus both. Nevertheless, all are not alike. Some teachers have very strong attachments with research though they are not so high in number.

Some private universities hardly organize research conferences or seminars. I have read some so-called articles by some teachers which are packed with grammatical and spelling errors. I wonder what the hell they teach inside classrooms! A much bigger question is the fact that how these articles managed to get published in academic journals! It goes without saying that there are glaring allegations about the prevalence of nepotism among the senior teachers of some private universities who like more to be buttered up by their subordinates rather than judging them in terms of academic standard objectively. Moreover, at times students intend to do creative things but they do not get much cooperation from their teachers allegedly. The point explicitly referring to lack of integrity cannot be missed in this context.

Not just universities, the entire education arena of Bangladesh is right now going through immense disorder. Questions are getting leaked out every now and then on the eve of exams throughout the country. No one is coming up with fruitful strategies to tackle this destructive phenomenon. Messing up with education is the worst thing that can happen in a civilized state. According to some educational experts, these miserable circumstances cannot be reversed as long as students pursue education just to pass exams or to find well-paid jobs. Blending up absurdly ultra-materialistic norms with the thoughts of ordinary masses has reduced their power to differentiate decent things from the defiled ones. Our aims to fight corruption and to eliminate socio-economic injustice will lead to nothing if we cannot streamline our education system.

Mahfuz Ul Hasib Chowdhury
is a contributor to different
English newspapers and

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