Role of Research in The Universities Of Bangladesh
Bijon B. Sarma
INTRODUCTION : Throughout the globe education is basically divided into 3 divisions. These are : (01) Primary, (02) Secondary and (03) Higher education, where the institutions disseminating education in these three levels are done through (01) Schools, (02) Colleges and (03) Universities. Of these three University education is basically different not only for the reason that it is the highest mode of learning, but also for the reason that the university has got the responsibility of increasing the quantity and improving the superiority of knowledge. Research and experiment are by all means the only ways to do the above.
SO, WITHOUT RESEARCH THE UNIVERSITIES HAVE NO OTHER OPTION TO ENLARGE THEIR STOREHOUSE OF KNOWLEDGE.
Without research universities turn to mere teaching and learning institutions or institutes like school, college etc. It may be mentioned that the schools and colleges have no need to accomplish the above two jobs, because the higher organizations with those responsibilities already exist. In such a situation, the universities have naturally been given the responsibilities of increasing the quantity and improving the quality of education to be exercised in all three types of institutions. It is quite known that the history of research in Bangladeshi universities is not that bright, even though it was much brighter during the British period (1757 – 1947 AD). However, the government seems to have been quite serious for research jobs in the universities. In order to create conducive environment for research the government took a program of managing the higher-level educations by the National University. This however, did not come to any use because neither the universities could improve their research status, no the national university could serve their responsibilities. Now the government is thinking of re-assigning the responsibility of affiliation on to the universities. It is often said that research in the developing countries was discouraged in the developing countries with an intention to compel them to use the throughputs attained in the developed countries. It may happen so if the developing countries depend upon the affluent countries for finance in education and such countries bear the above intention. We all know that things really happened like that. Not only that, in order to enforce their intention it was circulated that purchasing research findings from the developed countries was much cheaper than devising and developing those in the developing countries. It was also opined that knowledge transfer, technology transfer etc. were quite cheap and easy in the context of capitalistic system and unprecedented development in communication. We shall try to find out why and how the government of Bangladesh, with extremely limited financial capability should pursue research jobs in universities and in which fields.
TOPICS TO BE DISCUSSED : From what we have written above it is clear that researches should be conducted in the universities to increase and improve knowledge not only for themselves, but also for enriching the quality of education in the schools and colleges. So we shall endeavor to find out : (01) How the universities of Bangladesh can play active role in improving the knowledge base of the schools and colleges. (02) We hear that that “purchasing research findings are cheaper than developing those in the poor countries”, we shall judge whether and how far this statement is true. (03) And finally, we shall suggest how the universities can continue worthwhile research jobs with limited funding.
(01) WRITING BOOKS FOR SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES : Being in privileged positions, the noble responsibility of the teachers of the universities is to write books for the colleges and schools. However, in order to do that they need to remain concerned and connected with such institutions. And the best way to remain concerned is to write books for them.
In writing books, the first thing the teachers have to face is to find out and eradicate problems faced by the students and teachers of the relevant subject. Our schools and colleges have already taken up some basic subjects for learning. Some of these are : Bengali, English, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, History, Geography, Sociology, Political Science, Economics, Accounting, Management etc. Quite often the students face problems in solving problems. Quite often their teachers cannot give solution, or worsen the situation by giving multiple solutions, which the students consider as confusing. In this age there is absolutely no reason to maintain this confusion, when the solution is quite easy and inexpensive. What may be somewhat difficult for a school or college teacher can easily be solved by the university teacher expert in the same subject.
In such a situation we propose that various departments of reputed universities be assigned to act as “facilitator” for that subject. In doing so a ‘coordinating cell” for the particular subject will have to be established in that department of the university. The cell would have to do the following jobs : (i) To carefully study the books prescribed in various classes and suggest for improvement, (ii) To invite unsolved or confusing questions on that subject from the public and give answers, (iii) To publish newsletter containing the frequently asked questions with answers and relevant articles on regular basis. The government may have to sanction some money for these jobs.
In the present circumstances we suggest to establish coordinating cells for specific subjects in the following departments :
Bengali – Bengali department of Dhaka University. English – English department of Jahangirnagar University. Mathematics – Mathematics Department of Rajshahi University. Physics – Physics department of Dhaka University Chemistry – Chemistry department of Chittagong University Biology – Biology department of Rajshahi University History – History department of Dhaka University Geography – Geography department of Jahangirnagar University Sociology – Sociology department of Rajshahi University Political Science – Political Science department of Jahangirnagar University. Economics – Economics department of Dhaka University Accounting – Accounting department of Chittagong University Management – Management department of Dhaka University.
We believe the specific departments of universities would be able to produce much better reading materials than what our present system does. The cell may also suggest how to write books, conduct examinations, evaluate scripts, monitor students etc.
(02) OPTIONS BETWEEN : PURCHAGE AND DEVELOPMENT : It is true that purchasing research results may, in many cases be economic than conducting the same inside the country. For example, in case of Arts and Humanities (excepting Bengali) subjects, Commerce etc. researches are on abroad. So, the store of knowledge for these subjects can easily be increased by importing relevant books and reading materials. There is absolutely no need to conduct higher-level researches in these subjects.
Bengali however, is exceptional because the only and the best place for its research is Bangladesh. Naturally we want to see the highest level of research on Bengali in this land.
Other than the above subjects : (i) Higher knowledge on subjects like pure science and engineering (involving non-living matters) may be purchased from abroad, because superior quality knowledge and information on subjects are generated in the developed countries. (ii) Research findings from foreign countries on pure science subjects (involving living species) would be of little use in our country. So, there should be wide scope on these subjects in the country. (iii) Research findings from foreign countries on behavioral sciences (involving human being) will be of no use.
(03) Areas where research should be conducted : The above discussions and deductions lead us to opine that preference on research should be given on the following subjects and fields : Subjects : (i) Bengali : We have already discussed why adequate and high level research should be conducted on this subject.
(ii) Agriculture : There is little possibility that a foreign country would suggest the best seed, animal species, fertilizer or technology suited to our soil and climate. Even though they may conduct experiments in controlled environment (growth chamber or phytotron ) that cannot give suitable results.
(iii) Physical Planning : The problem with the physical planning of Bangladesh is, our planners get higher degrees from abroad, where the context is entirely different. When they apply those knowledge here we find complete failure. Such failures can now easily be felt in the capital city and other large cities, where the planners have applied their knowledge. Places where they could not still apply their knowledge are relatively better. While the oil-rich, automobile-manufacturer, less-peopled and affluent countries may look for planning solutions involving (a) more use of automobiles and fuels, (b) less use of men etc., our need is completely different. In such case, researches should be conducted in our this land in order to find out planning solutions appropriate for our country. It has already been proved that ‘foreign solutions’ in this subject is extremely harmful for us.
(iv) Architecture : There is little possibility that the research findings on Architecture obtained in foreign countries can ever be helpful for the people of our country. In our country we are having completely different types of climate, building materials, people’s culture, personal, familial and social needs etc. Thus researches in architecture to find out the best architectural solution for our people and society is a must for the success of architecture here.
(v) Water resources engineering : There is no possibility that any foreign country would be able to give solutions to the water related problems we are facing now. It is well-known that the morphology of aquifer, river, soil condition, rains, perennial and long-time variations of various contributing factors etc. have unique characters in this country.
CONCLUSION : Universities are differentiated from the “institutions” for their capability and achievement in conducting research jobs. Thus they must have the capability to create and increase their own storehouse of knowledge-base. The process in which we generate the same for the schools and colleges have been proved unsuccessful. In such a context, we have proposed the establishment of coordinating cells for various subjects at various departments of the leading universities.
In case of research grant from abroad, such grants are obtained due to a number of reasons including the following : (i) Grants are usually given in the fields where foreign-manufactured gadgets are required, such that considerable portion may fly abroad. (ii) Grants are usually given to produce professionals who may be absorbed by the foreign countries. In such a situation, only the bare minimum equipments required by the students for their usual jobs should be imported. In case of pure science subjects, it may be advisable to purchase research findings from abroad, in place of generating those at home.
When a sum is available for research, the safest thing for the government is to divide the money by the number of departments or organizations and thus amicably settle the matter with no fear of dispute. Such a job, however, is neither intelligent nor beneficial for the country. When applied intelligent thoughts it may be seen that certain subjects need more money for research, while some other do not. We have mentioned a few such subjects, knowing fully well there remain more subjects in this list.
We have mentioned some subjects/fields where research funds are essential. Unless the government grants fund and encourages researches in these subjects/fields now, the country would have to pay the price in the long run. Already we are facing problems in case of city planning, where our city planners applied their knowledge earned in foreign countries. Similar is the case with Architecture. Inadequacy in research in Agriculture would tarnish the base of our economy.
In the affluent countries the government face little problem in fund distribution because they get huge money both to use and waste. In the poor countries there is absolutely no scope for wastage. Research is the key that can bring about tremendous benefit for any country. However, a poor developing country would not be able to show radical achievements in fields in which developed countries are the authorities because of having sophisticated gadgets and technologies. Competing with them may be a faulty idea.
There are certain subjects/fields where each and every country needs to conduct their distinctly different types of researches. When the fund is limited and the country is poor, the country should apply intelligence to find out the priority and act accordingly.
Bijon B. Sarma, Professor on LPR, (Architecture Discipline, Khulna University).