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Decision to abolish Gha unit admission tests anger DU social sciences teachers

  • Rasel Sarker, Dhaka University Correspondent,
    Published: 2022-02-09 03:58:09 BdST

Members of Dhaka University’s social sciences faculty, which oversees the Gha unit admission tests, are equally surprised and irked by the decision to abolish the exams that allow students to change stream at enrolment.

They allege the authorities axed the Gha unit admission examinations without consulting or informing them, a decision that they say will limit the students’ opportunities to pursue higher education at Bangladesh's premier public university.

They also alleged Vice-Chancellor Professor Md Akhtaruzzaman passed mere discussions by the Deans’ Committee and Admissions Committee as the decision to drop the exams citing what he said was pressure on students.

Prof Zia Rahman, the dean of the faculty, declined comment on the decision, but former dean Prof Sadeka Halim expressed anger.

VC Prof Akhtaruzzaman, however, stuck to his claim that the procedure was followed to the letter in taking the decision.

Students sat for exams in the Ka unit for study in science stream, Kha for humanities, Ga for business studies, while Gha unit exams were held for those keen to switch departments. Cha unit exams are held for enrolment into the Faculty of Fine Arts.

The authorities said the dean sub-committee in a meeting of the General Admissions Committee was assigned on Monday to come up with a policy that will allow students to switch streams without them having to sit Gha unit exams.

File Photo

File Photo

Prof Sadeka Halim said Prof Akhtaruzzaman had in November 2020 proposed abolishing Gha and Cha unit exams.

“It was raised as an agenda by the end of the meeting. I argued why the Gha unit should be retained. I said the decision must be taken after discussions with the teachers of the faculty.”  

Prof Sadeka, the then dean of the faculty, held a virtual meeting with the teachers of the 16 departments under the faculty and presented their opinions to the authorities. They suggested the Gha unit exams not be abolished.

She claimed their opinions were not presented in any of the meetings, and a discussion at the Admissions Committee meeting is now being passed as a decision.

But Prof Akhtaruzzaman said the decision to scrap Gha unit exams was taken at the Academic Council meeting in light of the Admissions Committee recommendations following the Deans’ Committee meeting.

He suggested contacting the registrar’s office for more details. Documents from the office showed the Admissions Committee in a meeting on Nov 23, 2020 recommended revoking the exams after the Deans’ Committee meeting on Nov 8. The Academic Council on Aug 18, 2021 decided to scrap the exams.

But Prof Sadeka said the teachers of the faculty who attended the Academic Council meeting are unaware of the decision.

MM Akash, chairman of the economics department, said the chairmen of the departments under the faculty had decided to keep the Gha unit exams. “Now it is being said that there will be no Gha unit. Such a decision must be taken after discussions with all. It should not unilateral.”

Khorshed Alam, associate professor of journalism, wrote on Facebook that students were able to take the Dhaka University admission tests twice. Now they have only one chance. “And finally the Gha unit is gone. How prudent it is to limit the options of the students?”

The decision has also angered students of the faculty.

“Many students are forced to take science or business studies in SSC and HSC under pressure from society and family. Gha unit gave them the opportunity to switch to social sciences. Now they may not get this chance if Gha unit is scrapped,” said anthropology student Md Sajeeb.