Accountability and transparency is the most important aspect of socio-economic success for Bangladesh and also for every family of a country as well as for every country of the world, said Professor Md. Muinuddin Khan, an icon of accounting in Bangladesh, in an exclusive interview with The Guardian.
Mentioning accounting as his favorite subject, a accounting veteran of the country, Professor Khan further said that if accounting is properly persuaded with all care and sincerity, we can resolve the different socio-economic and financial issues of challenges and development of Bangladesh, because accounting is a subject which brings financial discipline, and is always needed and especially in the context of present and future of Bangladesh it is very much inevitable.
In this connection, a high profile educationist of the country, Professor Khan mentioned that to attain this goal, Bangladesh needs more professional accountants of high quality and integrity to build better present and future of the country and also of the nation. Accordingly, he urged his students and teachers and the people of Bangladesh to consider accounting as an essential part of their lives; adding that if they practice accounting, they will never be regretful in any phase of their lives.
Recalling his long career in teaching accounting, Professor Khan said that he started teaching Project Management in 1984 in the University of Dhaka, which he has been continuing there as well as in Southeast University and even now in ASA University which is also his favourite subject, he wants to see how the nation can apply accounting, how the nation can apply accountability and transparency in financial and project management.
Mentioning teaching as the most important part of his life and career, he tells that he has no other future plan, except his only plan is just to deliver lectures and teach students project management, accounting as long as he is capable to do so. This celebrated educationist wishes to be introduced only as a teacher and to die as a teacher.
In an exclusive interview, Professor Khan replied to several questions asked by The Guardian, covering his long experience of 50 years’ teaching, research, observation on life and society and others. His deliberations are very interesting and educative as well. The excerpts of his valuable interview are presented here for The Guardian readers at home and abroad:
The Guardian: Please tell us something about your boyhood and the socio-economic condition of the country at that time.
Professor Khan: Thanks for this interesting question. Since my boyhood I was all along a shy boy, and I was very inclined towards social activities than academic. The social condition of the country at that time, as far as I recall, was quite peaceful, except that some sorts of restlessness in the society. The economic condition of the then Bangladesh was, however, quite good. The things were very cheap.
The Guardian: Tell us something about your schooling.
Professor Khan: My father was a teacher. When he was posted at Chittagong Islamic Intermediate College, I had been there with the family to live and studied there in a school for sometimes. Later, I was admitted into Govt. Muslim High School, Chittagong. I passed Matriculation examination in 1957 and in the same year I got myself admitted into Govt. College of Commerce, Chittagong at Agrabad.
The Guardian: We heard that this was a very renowned college at that time. Please tell us something about Govt. College of Commerce and its academic environment.
Professor Khan: Whatever you heard was right. Govt. College of Commerce was known as the best institution in the filed of commerce in the then East Pakistan. The standard of the college was as good as a university.
Very renowned teachers like Professor Abdus Sobhan Khan Chowdhury, Professor Safat Ahmed Siddique, Professor Nurul Afsar Khan, Professor Fajilat Hossain and Professor Sarfuddin taught at this college. All these teachers were very efficient, very cordial and full of knowledge. They used to teach us with great care in those days.
So I learned a lot of accounting and commerce related subjects while studying in this college, which helped me a lot in passing my B.Com. (Hons) from Dhaka University as well as my Master’s Degree in Accounting from there. We also had a foreign teacher in Commerce College, named Mr. Otis Coffey. I remember those days deeply when I was the student of 1st batch of Intermediate of Commerce of Govt. College of Commerce, Chittagong.
The Guardian: We know you studied at the University of Dhaka. Please tell us something about your university life and the environment of Dhaka University at that time.
Professor Khan: After passing Intermediate of Commerce from Govt. College of Commerce, Chittagong, I got myself admitted into the Department of Commerce in Dhaka University. When I was in the university, we were very few in number. I was enrolled as a student of 1st year B.Com. (Hons) in the year 1959. Since then, I used to attend my classes very regularly and listened to my teachers very attentively. That attention paid me a lot of dividend. I need not have to go through my studies much at home. We were only 19 in the year 1959 as 1st year students of Commerce Department in the University of Dhaka.
Academic environment was excellent at Dhaka University in those days. I was there up to 1963. I passed B.Com. (Honours) in 1962 and Master of Commerce in 1963 from the Department of Commerce of the University of Dhaka. Then the Department of Commerce was under the Faculty of Arts. In the year 1970 it was raised to the status of a separate faculty with two departments, namely the Department of Accounting and the Department of Management. It is good to say that at the first instance I joined the Department as teacher in Commerce in 1966 and when commerce was divided into two departments, I was placed in the Department of Accounting.
The Guardian: Tell us something about your inspiration for being a teacher.
Professor Khan: You have already came to know that my father was a teacher. He was a teacher of English He inspired me exactly to have a dream to become a successful teacher. So, the habit of teaching others grew in me since my early age. Even I used to teach my fellow students in my school life and also during my college life. I used to do it with all sincerity.
The Guardian: Would you tell us something more about your father?
Professor Khan: My father was a college teacher. He used to lead a very simple life. We are six brothers and three sisters. My father was a teacher of English. He passed his Master’s degree from the Dhaka University in 1939. For a very short time he was also a teacher in the Department of English of Dhaka University. Later, he joined Islamic Intermediate College, which is presently known as Mohsin College.
So, my role model as a teacher was my father. I used to follow him and I was inspired a lot throughout my academic career by my father. My father was a dedicated Muslim. He used to wear Muslim dress and remained very contented with whatever salary he used to get. As we know in those days salary was very scanty and yet very much sufficient for us to meet the expenses of the whole family. Our family was quite big but there was no problem because the things were very cheap in those days.
The Guardian: Would you tell us when you formally joined the teaching profession?
Professor Khan: Prior to my joining the University of Dhaka, I was appointed as Lecturer in the month of March 1964 in the then Quaid-e-Azam College, now Sharwardy College, just after completing my studies at Dhaka University. That was the beginning of my teaching career. I was the teacher in the Department of Commerce in Quaid-e-Azam College for about two and a half years before joining Dhaka University.
I earned a very good repute and fame as a teacher in the then Quaid-e-Azam College or today’s Sharwardy College. Students used to admire me and respect me for my communicative skill. Whatever I knew I presented that with all sincerity and ease to pass the lessons to my students, as a result, I had been able to win their hearts. They were very attentive in my classes. So, through out all those years I enjoyed teaching wonderfully.
The Guardian: Please tell us when you joined the University of Dhaka.
Professor Khan: On 20 May of 1966 I joined the Dhaka University as a lecturer.
The Guardian: We came to know that your book on Advanced Accounting was published and you carried it to the selection committee. Please tell us something about this.
Professor Khan: I have told you in May 1966 I joined the Dhaka University as lecturer. But I was fortunate enough that I got my book on Advanced Accounting Volume I and II published in March 1966. This publication brought me credit in the interview board. The members of interview board were very much impressed by seeing the book that before joining the Department of Commerce I had a good publication. This was the only book on Accounting in Bangladesh at that time. So, I could easily gain my appointment in the Department of Commerce in the University of Dhaka.
The Guardian: Would you also tell us something about the department when you joined the University of Dhaka.
Professor Khan: Professor Md. Safiullah was the Head of the Department when I joined the Department. At that time the post of Chairman was named as the Head of the Department in the University of Dhaka. He used to admire me very much both as a student as well as a teacher in the department. He was also one of my role models for teaching and he was also considered as one of the very successful teachers of the Department of Commerce. Later, he became Chairman when the post of head was renamed as Chairman. When I joined he was there for few days. Prof. AFA Hussain also joined our department as Head of the Department. I worked sometime under him also. My very beloved teachers were Prof. Dr. M. Habibullah and Dr Abdullah Faruk. They were also role models to me and very helpful for building my career. I taught in the Dhaka University for long forty years till I retired in June , 2006.
The Guardian: Would you tell us something about your promotions in the department?
Professor Khan: I was promoted to the rank of Assistant Professor in the year 1970, in just about four years after getting into the Department in 1966. I was promoted to the post of Associate Professor in 1974 and was promoted to the rank of Professor in 1992. I think I was very fortunate to get that position so early. This is probably because of my reputation as a teacher and also the comments of the students about me and their admiration also helped me a lot to get all the promotions so quickly.
The Guardian: We understand that Accounting is a very technical and complex subject, and the time you started writing books on Accounting it was not an easy task, and once your book “Advanced Accounting Volume I and II” were considered as the Bible of Accounting in our country and these books were selected as the main text books for B.Com. (Hons. and Pass), M.Com., CAs, CMAs and other Accounting-related professional courses in our country and in some other countries also. Would you tell us something about this?
Professor Khan: Your assessment is in right direction My books on Advanced Accounting Volume I and II remain as the only Text Book for long over three decades. Students both from universities as well as from professional accounting groups used to learn from my books and teachers also used to teach from my books throughout the then East Pakistan. So, I became very popular throughout the country through my books.
You know we used to consult the books on accounting by foreign writers, mainly from UK and India. Just after the war of 1965 in September, there was a total ban of all imports from India to our country.
As a result, there was a total vacuum of Indian and UK books for our students. I was fortunate enough to fill up the vacuum to students and professionals to a great extent. Even in those days the student of other part of the country, (the then West Pakistan) also used my books for their course of studies on accounting.
You are also right. Accounting is a highly technical subject. There is no doubt about this. But I made it easy for my students. Probably, that is why; the students admired me much, especially the students who had my association in course of their academic involvement in the university level or college level still remember me. I think all of them would remember me in the days to come. I feel they liked me as their parents. So, as a teacher and as a writer this is a greatest satisfaction in my life and also a greatest achievement.
Not that all people who used my books were my direct students but through my books they were also my students. So this how I got big admiration. I was all along and am still a very contented and happy teacher. I feel I got a lot in life from teaching.
The Guardian: We heard that just after completion of your university education you joined a leading bank in a dignified position. Would you say why you left such a covetable job?
Professor Khan: The reason is that I have never hankered after or run for money. I joined the then Habib Bank as probationary officer at one stage just after passing from the Dhaka University. But I did not like the job, because my inclination was all along towards teaching, as my father was my role model. So I immediately gave up that job and joined the teaching profession fully. Since then I never tried to go to any other professions than teaching.
The Guardian: We heard that you and one of your teachers pioneered the first research in Accounting in Bangladesh. Please tell us something about your research works.
Professor Khan: This is true. I conducted some pioneer business researches in Bangladesh. My teacher Professor AMA Baquer and I jointly conducted first research in the field of accounting in Bangladesh sometime during 1968-1969. Then I conducted a research on application of standard costing in jute industries which was published by the Bureau of Business Research, University of Dhaka.
I conducted research works but not so many. Mostly I tried to devote myself towards improving my books on accounting. I wanted to improve my Advanced Accounting as much as possible.
The Guardian: In this context, would you mention the names of your other books?
Professor Khan: Alongside Advanced Accounting books, I have written ‘Manual for Advanced Accounting’ also in two Volumes, ‘Essential of Business Organization’ and ‘Essential of Business Management’.
The Guardian: We know that side by side teaching and research you have achieved multi-facet experiences in academic and government administration and policy making, national and international consultancy, project management and planning, etc. Would you tell us something about this?
Professor Khan: I was associated with different positions in my long teaching career. Only some of these which instantly come in my mind I can tell you about those. I was the Chairman of the Department of Accounting first from1979-1982 and again I was offered to serve the department as Chairman from August 1988 to April 1992. I was the Dean of the Faculty of Commerce in the University of Dhaka for about two years from 1995-1997. I was appointed Chairman of Bureau of Business Research during 1995 to 1997 and then again from 2002 to 2004. I was also the Editor of the ‘Journal of Dhaka University Business Studies’ from 1997 to 1999.
I retired from the Dhaka University on 30th June 2006, after serving the highest and best seat of learning in Bangladesh for about 40 years, which I consider as the best part of my life.
I was appointed as Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Dean of the Faculty of Business at Southeast University and served for about two years. I was picked up as an Adviser to the Caretaker Government of Bangladesh when I was there, though it was for very short period but yet I gained experience in government administration. I served the ASA University as its founder Vice-Chancellor and I am still serving it as its Adviser.
While I was in the Department of Accounting of Dhaka University I taught accounting, project management, management accounting, cost accounting and financial management and at the private universities also I choose to take same courses for teaching.
I served different national and international organizations as consultant. I was short time consultant of Swedish International Development Agency, different development projects funded by the World Bank and International Labour Organization (ILO), for a project on National Management Development Programme (at former BMDC at present BIM) resent. I worked with the project as its external collaborator. So I contributed a lot in rendering training to our senior staff of various important industrial units in Bangladesh in public and private sectors.
From these consultancy activities, I learned a lot from my exposure to practical application of accounting. It was very formidable experience and very fruitful and it helped me a lot in developing my insight in practical application of accounting in business decision making, planning and control. I worked under the leadership of Dr. Victor G Powell, Chief Technical Advisor of ILO and I also served the Economic Development Institute (EDI) in collaboration with them in delivering lectures in some parts of South Asia.
The Guardian: You have earned huge name and fame as a teacher, a researcher and a writer of accounting, for which you have become an icon of accounting in Bangladesh. Please express your feeling about this.
Professor Khan: Last month, I have completed fifty years of my teaching career. Out of this long period, I taught forty years in Dhaka University, two and a half years in Sharwardi College and about ten years in private universities. I am still continuing teaching.
Part of your question includes that I earned huge name and fame as a teacher, a researcher and a writer of accounting for which I have become an icon of accounting in Bangladesh. I cannot think that I am an icon but I think I am a humble teacher and a student of accounting. Accounting has inspired me all along.
The Guardian: Keeping in mind the different ongoing socio-economic and financial issues of challenges and developments in Bangladesh, would you suggest how Accounting can guide the nation in resolving all the challenging issues?
Professor Khan: Accounting is my favourite subject. I hope if accounting is properly persuaded with all care and sincerity, we can resolve the different socio-economic and financial issues of challenges and development of Bangladesh because accounting is a subject which brings financial discipline, which is always needed and especially in present context of Bangladesh it is very much needed.
The Guardian: Would you tell us something about your future plan or thought?
Professor Khan: I started teaching Project Management in 1984 in the University of Dhaka, which I continued there as well as in Southeast University and even now. Project management is also my favorite subject. I want to see how you can apply finance, economics and accounting, how you can apply accountability and transparency in financial and project management. For this, I think Bangladesh needs more professional accountants of high quality to build better future of the country and the nation.
I am heading to 75 years of age. As I have told you that I have already completed 50 years of teaching. I don’t know how long Allah will give me strength to continue teaching. I wish to die as a teacher. So this is the only desire throughout my life. I think I was born to be a teacher. So, I want to die as a teacher. Teaching is the most important part of my life and career. There is no other future plan, my only plan is just to deliver lectures and teach students project management, accounting as long as I am capable to do it.
The Guardian: Please tell us when you joined the ASA University?
Professor Khan: When I was in the cabinet of Caretaker Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh in December2006-January 2007, I came across Mr. Shafiqul Huque Chowdhury as one of my cabinet colleagues, who is the President of ASA. He, by the by, told me that he got permission to start a university named ASA University Bangladesh and was searching for a Vice-Chancellor. In course of our acquaintance and relationship developed in the cabinet, he proposed me to join his university. Since teaching is my only motto, I responded to his request and accordingly I joined ASA University on 1st of April 2007 as its First Vice-Chancellor.
The Guardian: We know most of the private universities in Bangladesh are suffering from image crisis and facing trouble to grow but ASA has quickly risen and build a good image in the country. Would you tell how you could do this?
Professor Khan: With the blessing of Almighty Allah and my reputation and acquaintance throughout the nation as a successful teacher, I was fortunate enough to get about 773 students in the very first semester, (Summer 2007). That number remains yet a record number. No university in Bangladesh in private sector yet to achieve that or to break the record. I was the Vice-Chancellor of this university until 30th September 2012 for about five and half years. I tried to utilize my entire ability of educational administration to make this university successful and make it one of the leading universities, (being sixth in Web Matrix Info Impact Point of View among the private universities) and also won award for quality education as renowned institution.
Whether I was Vice-Chancellor or not, I worked all along as a teacher there. So, along with Vice-Chancellorship of ASA Univewrsity, I was also teaching at least two courses in MBA programme. After the completion of my tenure as Vice-Chancellor in September 2012, I was made Adviser of this university in recognition of my services to the university. I have been working here as Adviser. But my main job has been all along teaching I choose to take classes on Project Management in Master’s level, Management Accounting and Project Management at undergraduate level.
The Guardian: What is your expectation about ASA?
Professor Khan: I wish that ASA University will be one of the best universities in Bangladesh within a very short time under the able leadership of Mr. Shafiqul Haque Chowdhury. Mr. Chowdhury has devoted lot of his time to its development and is continuing to raise the university to the best position in the country. I think this university has a very good prospect and a great future, and I wish ASA University should be the best institution in the country in coming days.
The Guardian: Besides ASA University, we heard that you are also involved with student welfare activities and the establishment some other academic institutions. Please tell us something about this.
Professor Khan: I was nominated as Vice-Chairman of Bangladesh Chattara Kalayan Trust for a long time as its Chairman (in-charge). I am also founder Chairman of Gulshan Commerce College, situated at Madha Badda, Gulshan, Dhaka from its beginning and still continuing. I was Chairperson of Dr. Malika College in Dhanmondi for a short period.
I am a life member of Accounting Alumni Association of Dhaka University and also a life member of Dhaka University Alumni Association (DUAA) and also an alumni of George Washington University, Washington DC, USA.
The Guardian: Would you comment about the success of your students in their professional life?
Professor Khan: I have a large number of students during my 50 years of teaching career. My students are now working in all around Bangladesh and in different parts of the world in very high and dignified positions. Many of my students have already been ministers, top bureaucrats like secretaries, CEOs and MD in banks, national and multinational companies, professional leaders, successful businessmen and industrialists, renowned educationists, even writers and journalists also, who have earned name and fame in their respective professional fields and in the society.
Some of my students were ministers of Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh in the past and at present times. Some of my students are also very renowned entrepreneurs and businessmen. They hold very prestigious position in the society as successful businessmen. My students have also graced the main professional accounting bodies of Bangladesh, the ICAB, ICMAB and ICSB. I wish them all very prosperous lives and brilliant successes in their positions.
I am very happy to see my students in dignified positions and feel proud to see them prosperous in their lives.
The Guardian: In the end, would you please give your valuable message for the students and teachers, and for the people of Bangladesh as a whole?
Professor Khan: My messages to the students and teachers and also for the people of Bangladesh as a whole, “Please try to understand the teaching of Accounting. You should regulate your life and must have financial discipline. If you don’t have financial discipline, you cannot prosper in your life. This is a very important lesson that we learn from accounting.”
So, accountability and transparency is the most important aspect of socio-economic success for Bangladesh and also for every family of a country and for every country in the world. So, I wish my students and teachers and the people of Bangladesh that they all should consider Accounting as their part of life. So, I think, if you practice accounting, you will never be regretful in any step of your life. This is what my massage is.