Students Resist State Abandonment
of Public Education
The government of Bangladesh introduced a new funding rule (clause 27(4)) that forces Jagannath University (JnU) to generate its own funds - consequently work without state support by 2012 and therefore be run like a private company. It is worth mentioning that JnU is suppose to be a public institution.
The university now needs to look for funds elsewhere. Usually there are two potential sources: fees and private investors. Of course fees are obviously not in the interest of the public, since it restricts access to education even further. Private investors are also not favorible, since independent teaching and research is vital not just for proper science, but for society in general. And emancipatory education financed by profit-driven interests is not possible anyway.
Following this new rule students on the ground assume that semester fees will be increased by 600% (previously: 3,500 BDT = 34€ = 47US$ - soon: 20,000 BDT = 195€ = 266US$).
At this stage only Jagannath University is directly affected. All financial support for JnU by the government should cease for by 2012. If this transformation succeeds, then at least two other universities are to follow by 2017.
It is worth noting that the public was informed about these changes through a newspaper report on September 25th (sunday).
As a direct reaction thousands of students began to block roads around campus and the High Court, demanding that this new rule be scrapped again. Police were called in and began to charge protesters with batons to disperse the crowd. Demands of the students also include the reinstatement of university dormitories, the setting up of a library, and the improvement of transport facilities as well as the branch closure of Bangladesh Bank office on campus.
This development is a symptom of the currently dominating economic system and part of the commercialisation process within education. This is the future for all of us around the world - unless we finally connect and fight back together (e.g. "Global Weeks of Action for Education" - November 07 - 20th).
Students celebrate victory. The state confirmed to reconsider its policies and keep their financial support for JnU. A good report with much more background information: thedailystar.net
Police arrested 17 students Jagannath University from a rally in Dhaka (Bangladesh) protesting near campus and in the city centre.
news report: bdnews24.com
Once again thousands of students (also from other institutions who stand in solidarity) took to the streets once again. At some locations tyres were set ablaze. No reports of further arrests or injured protesters.
Following the strike by students authorities announced to close JnU at least until October 6th.
More than 500 students marched to the office of the vice chancellor and boycott of classes and exams was announced.
A large number of police forces was deployed around the campus.
The following day in the early morning thousands of activists blocked main gates of the university and boycotted classes. Once again dozens of vehicles were damaged by the angry students and roads blocked - about 25 people were detained.
Transport movement in Sadarghat- Raishaheb Bazar, English Road and Dholaikhal areas remained suspended for about three hours following the student rampage. The situation returned to normality around 12:00pm after police brought the entire area under control.
Police along with thugs from the Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) violently attacked the the protesters. At least 20 students were arrested and 30 injured by them. A group of 10 to 12 BCL activists were seen beating the demonstrators and they obstructed press corps who tried to photograph them beating a demonstrator.
Jagannath University’s proctor Ashok Kumar Saha said: ‘Article 27 (4) of the Jagannath University Act- 2005 says that the university authority will have to earn the costs of running the university themselves. We are holding talks with the government to repeal this clause as its implementation would hike tuition fees and there shall be a very little difference of Jagannath University with other private initiatives.'
“Although Jagannath University is a public university, it will gradually turn into a private university day by day,” said one of the students.
JnU vice-chancellor professor Mesbah Uddin Ahmad visited the demonstrating students and said that their demands would be considered. Nonetheless the activists don't believe him, since the struggle against the increasing commercialisation of education has been going on for years and they were disappointed by the chancellor too often.
Demands of the students also included the recovery of university dormitories, the setting up of a library, and the increasing of transport facilities as well as the removal of a Bangladesh Bank branch office which is inside their campus.
The activists blockaded roads for several hours and vandalised 20 vehicles setting off a chain reaction that paralysed many Dhaka streets with severe traffic jams from 10:30am onwards.
I - who wrote this - have my information from activists in Dhaka and news reports. In case this text includes misinformation, please send an e-mail to email@example.com so that it can be corrected.