Dhaka College is one of the oldest educational institutions in Indian Subcontinent, which began as an English school at the initiative of the General Committee of Public Instruction in the British Period on 15 July 1835, in the name of Dhaka Seminary or English Seminary School, in order to introduce English among the people of this country, said Professor Dr. Ayesha Begum, Principal, Dhaka College in an exclusive interview with The Guardian.
The Principal, in this context, informed us that to spread it the Public Education Committee formed by the then Civil Surgeon Dr. James Taylor and the District Magistrate of Dhaka Mr. Grant played the principal role in setting up this school and, accordingly, the college branch of the English Seminary School was opened in 1841 and it was first known as Dhaka Central College and then as “Dhaka College”.
In this context, she mentioned that with the subscriptions from the eminent personalities, the Public Education Committee purchased a piece of land to construct the new building of the college and the Bishop of Calcutta, Rev. Daniel laid the foundation stone of Dhaka College on 20 November 1841, adding that the design of the building was made by Colonel Garstin and the construction of the building was completed in 1944, and the building was later known as “The State Bank.”
She informed that J. Ireland was appointed as the first Principal of Dhaka College, and DhakaCollege had 289 students in 1848. She also mentioned that the college came under the authority of CalcuttaUniversity in 1858, and four-year degree course was introduced in 1857, two-year Fine Arts course in 1862 and MA course in 1863.
When asked to state the present academic scenario of the college, the Principal informed us that at present there are three higher Secondary level courses in Dhaka College, namely, Science, Commerce, and Humanities groups, but there are 19 departments which offer 4-year honours and one year Master’s Course, adding that these departments are Bengali, English, Economics, Philosophy, Psychology, History, Islamic History, Islamic Studies, Geography, Sociology, Political Science, Management, Accounting, Statistics, Zoology, Botany, Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics and 18,500 students are currently studying at Dhaka College.
In reply to a question, the Principal said that DhakaCollege has made history of education in Bangladesh. In view of this, the Principal recalls the glorified contributions of DhakaCollege to education, culture, literature and national causes of this nation for about 172 years. In this context, she said that the history of DhakaCollege testifies the fact that the students of DhakaCollege always came forward whenever there was national crisis and played very special role in the language Movement of 1952, terming the students of DhakaCollege as the language veterans of the first order. She also mentioned that the students of DhakaCollege had glorious role in the Liberation War of 1971 and many of the young students laid down their lives for the cause of defending the country’s freedom.
In reply to another question, the Principal said that the old building of Dhaka College which was constructed in 1955 needs renovation, the Classrooms, Gallery, the Main Library, the old hostel buildings also need to be repaired. In this context, she further mentioned that the Principal’s room and office room have been already renovated, a teachers’ lounge has been redecorated with modern facilities and a beautiful gate has been constructed at the entrance of the college, adding that the government has taken up plans to grant money for this purpose.
In reply to a particular question, Dr. Ayesha said that in order to fulfil the cherished dream of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to make a digital Bangladesh, Dhaka College has taken a number of steps, of which an ICT Lab has been opened in the Statistics Department, where students can do ICT course at the Master’s level under the National University, adding that the courses provide training and development for the students who would like to develop their skills and master their desktop and most of the works related to examination are done through online.
Professor Ayesha, one of the high profile educationists of her time in Bangladesh, urges the teachers to be very punctual and sincere and give their best efforts to make the classes as interesting as possible and to teach the students moral values with the prescribed texts so that they can enlighten their community and make the world a better place to live in.
In an exclusive interview, the Principal replied to several questions covering the academic, research and extracurricular activities, contributions, problems and future plans of DhakaCollege. Her deliberations are not simply interesting but also highly informative and educative as well. The excerpts of her valuable interview are presented here for The Guardian readers at home and abroad:
The Guardian: Please give us a brief introduction to the founding history of DhakaCollege?
Principal: Although this country of ours was rich in natural resources, it was rather backward in education and learning. In such a situation, the foundation and onward march of DhakaCollege has added a new dimension to the history of the expansion of learning in this country. DhakaCollege has attained a dignified state through long evolution and development. So, the new generation has endless interest to know about this glorious institution which has Higher Secondary, Honours and Master’s Courses under the aegis of the Directorate of Secondary & Higher Education and the NationalUniversity.
This educational institute, one of the oldest in Indian Subcontinent, began as an English school. At the initiative of the General Committee of Public Instruction in the British Period, this school got established on 15 July, 1835. Its name was Dhaka Seminary or EnglishSeminarySchool. In order to introduce English among the people of this country and also to spread it, the Public Education Committee formed by the then Civil Surgeon Dr. James Taylor and the District Magistrate of Dhaka Mr. Grant had the principal role in setting up this school.
The college branch of the EnglishSeminarySchool was opened in 1841 and it was first known as DhakaCentralCollege and then as “DhakaCollege.” With the subscriptions from the eminent personalities, the Public Education Committee purchased a piece of land to construct the new building of the college. The Bishop of Calcutta, Rev. Daniel laid the foundation stone of DhakaCollege on 20 November 1841. The design of the building was made by Colonel Garstin. The construction of the building was completed in 1944. This building was later known as “The State Bank.” J. Ireland got appointed as the first Principal of Dhaka College.
DhakaCollege had 289 students in 1848. The college came under the authority of CalcuttaUniversity in 1858. Four-year degree course was introduced in 1857; two-year Fine Arts course in 1862 and MA course in 1863. Those who attained MA Degree from DhakaCollege first were Parimohan Bishwash (2nd Class) and Harichaitanna Ghosh (3rd class).
Under various circumstances, the college campus was shifted several times. At one stage of this, DhakaCollege was transferred to the Old High Court building (Junior Governor’s Building). In 1943, however, the building had to be vacated for the rehabilitation of the wounded soldiers of the World War II. The college was shifted to the Intermediate College of Lakhsmibazar (present KabiNazrulCollege) and later in a building owned by late Khan Bahdur Abdul High in Siddique Bazar.
At the last stage of this shifting process, in 1955 the college was set in the present campus to west side of Mirpur Road, adjacent to New Market. To the North of the college, there are Government Laboratory School, Dhaka Teacher’s Training College, Branch Office of Open University, NAEM and to its south, New Market, Kuwait Maitry Hall of Dhaka University, to its west the Headquarters of BDR (Pilkhana) and to its east Mirpur Road.
The Guardian: And tell us something about the success and contributions of DhakaCollege students in their professional life well as in national and international levels?
Principal: Many eminent personalities were the students of DhakaCollege. The list of these personalities includes Late President Md. Zillur Rahman, sons of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Martyrs Sheikh kamal, Sheikh Jamal, Scientist Md. Maksudul Alam, Poet Budhhadev Basu, Intellectual A. W. Mahmood first cabinet Minister Fazlur Rahman, MA Matin, national Protessor Abdur Razzak, Zahirul Islam Vuyan, Naurul Huda, Syad Oaliullah, Syad Ali Ahsan, Maniruddin Yusuf, Sanaul Haque, Khaza Khaeruddin, Social scientist A.K. Nazmul Karim, artist Bulbul Chowdhury Professor Abdul Matin Chowdhury, National Professor Kabir Chowdhury, Dr. AK. Nazmul Karim, Poet Shamsur Rahman. Istiaq Ahmed, Tajuddin Ahmed, Mansur Ali, Dr. AKM Shamsul Haq, Sector commander Khaled Mosharrof, Iqbal Ansari Khan, commander Abdur Rauf, film maker Zahir Raihan, Abdur Gaffar Chowdhury, Mokammel Haq, Saifuddin Ahmed Manik, Abu Hena Mustafa Kamal, Dr. Mizanur Rahman Shelley, Mofazzal Haidar Chowdhury. Shah Moazzem Hossain Maodud Ahmed, Dr. Mahiuddin Khan Alamgir, Dr. Badruddoza Chowdhury, Anwar Ansari Khan, Shamsul Arefin, Rashed Mosharrof, AK Badrul Haq Bacchu, Barrister Mainul Hossain, Playwright . Abdullah Al Mamun, Author Akhtaruzzaman Ilias, Abdul Mannan syed, Poet Mohammad Rafiq, Rashed Khan Menon, Abdul Razzak, Poet Muhammad Nurul Huda, Playwright Mamunur Rashid, Dr. Humayun Azad, writer Humayun Ahmed, Masud Ahmed Rumi, Dr. Modasser Ali, Singer Niaz Mohammad Chowdhury, Muzahidul Islam Selim and many more. The distinguished personalities who were once the teachers of DhakaCollege are Prof. MU Ahmed, Prof Shaokat Osmas, Prof Hishamuddin, Prof Ashraf Siddique Prof. Nuruzzaman Chowdhury, Prof. Akhtaruzzam Ilias, Prof Abdullah Abu Syed, Prof. Noman, Prof Jalaluddin, Prof Alauddin Al Azad, Prof Naziruddin Ahmed, Prof. Naiar Sultana.
The Guardian: As a historic institution, would you tell us something about the roles and contributions of DhakaCollege in our national causes including Language Movement, Liberation War and others apart from academic activities?
An overview of the history of DhakaCollege testifies the fact that the students of DhakaCollege always came forward whenever there was national crisis. Students of DhakaCollege played very special role in the language Movement of 1952. The students of DhakaCollege were the language veterans of the first order. A group of five students brought out a procession on 21st February defying section 144 and Iqbal Ansari Khan was one of them. He was arrested. On 21st February, 1953, the students of DhakaCollege and EdenCollege made a martyr memorial in front of DhakaCollege. When Abdul Gaffar Chowdhury was a student of class xii in DhakaCollege, he wrote the song Amar Vaier Rokte Rangano Ekushe February (21st February tinged with the blood of my brother). On 21st February at 1 am, black flag was raised and the song was sung in Britania hall. Eight students were arrested in this connection.
The students of DhakaCollege had glorious role in the Liberation War of 1971. Many of the young students laid down their lives for the cause of defending the country’s freedom. Those became martyrs in the great Liberation War are:
Abdus Sabur Sikder
Azizul Islam Babul
The Guardian: Would you also mention the number of various departments or courses currently conducted by DhakaCollege?
Principal: At present there are three higher Secondary level courses in DhakaCollege, namely, Science, Commerce, and Humanities group. There are 19 departments which offer 4 year honours and one year Master’s Course. The departments are Bengali, English, Economics, Philosophy, Psychology, History, Islamic History, Islamic Studies, Geography, Sociology, Political Science, Management, Accou-nting, Statistics, Zoology, Botany, Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics.
The Guardian: And please mention the number of students currently studying in DhakaCollege?
Principal: There are about 18500 students currently studying at DhakaCollege.
The Guardian: In this context, would you inform us about the number of student dormitories, libraries, labs and other academic facilities available at the college?
Principal: There are seven students’ hostels, one central library. Moreover, every department has its separate library. All science departments have their own labs.
The Guardian: Would you also inform us about the number of teachers currently teaching at DhakaCollege?
DhakaCollege has around 230 teachers working in various departments.
The Guardian: Would you reflect what facilities are available at DhakaCollege for sport and cultural activities?
Principal: DhakaCollege has made special arrangement for the evening and night study in the college. There is a medical centre and a counseling centre to provide health care to the students. BNCC, Rover Scout and Youth Red Crescent are working as part of the extra-curricular activities. The members of the BNCC, Rover Scout, specially youth Red Crescent offered valuable service during the saver tragedy. They donated blood and took part in the rescue operation from the very beginning. There are professional instructors to help students develop the art of dance, drama, debate, recitation. There are also programmes on, tree plantation, maintenance of good environment.
In 2011 we celebrated completion of 171 year programme throughout the year by holding functions, seminars in the college where eminent personalities were present. In 2012 we observed the establishment day of the college on Nov 20 thoughout the day with much enthusiasm. On this occasion a colourful rally was held. A few days back a science fair was organized on a grand scale in the college premise successfully. DhakaCollege has a big field where students can play cricket and football. Every year we organize a cricket tournament and a football tournament where students of various departments take part. Like all other educational institutions annual sports is held every year. In the common room we have good arrangements for indoor games.
The Guardian: As a high profile educationist, would you assess the roles and contributions of NationalUniversity in guiding the activities of the colleges under its control? In this context, would you suggest what more roles the NationalUniversity should play to improve the scenarios of higher education offered by the colleges under its control across the country?
Principal: In spite of its limitations NationalUniversity is trying to guide and control the academic activities of the college as much as possible. To improve the scenarios of higher education in the colleges it needs to increase efficient staff in the NationalUniversity. NationalUniversity can conduct lectures and seminars for pre-service (qualifying) teachers. In order to eradicate session. I am and to ensure quality education dynamic leadership is needed along with good teamwork. For this purpose National University can bring a change in the syllabus and examination system.
The Guardian: In this context, would you say what development activities are being implemented to improve the condition of physical infrastructures of the college?
Principal: At present the old building of DhakaCollege which was constructed in 1955 needs renovation. The Classrooms, Gallery, the Main Library, the old hostel buildings need to be repaired. The Principal’s room, office room have been renovated. A teachers’ lounge has been redecorated with modern facilities. A beautiful gate has been constructed at the entrance of the college. A ten storied building will be constructed for academic and examination purpose. Above all we badly need a master plan for the development of DhakaCollege. The government has taken up plans to grant money for this purpose.
The Guardian: Since it is a digital age and our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also dreams to make Bangladesh a Digital Bangladesh, would you say what activities DhakaCollege is doing in this regard?
Principal: In order to fulfil our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s dream to make our country a digital BangladeshDhakaCollege has taken a few steps. An ICT lab has been opened in the statistics department. Students can do ICT course at the Master’s level under the NationalUniversity. Our courses provide training and development for the students who would like to develop their skills and master their desktop. Most of the works related to examination are done through online. Very soon we are going to establish multi-media classrooms. In software we will store the data of the students who will get admitted.
The Guardian: As a matter of fact it is to mention that so far as we know most of the leading academic intuitions have alumni associations and the associations help their intuitions in different ways. In this way, what step you can also take to utilize Dhaka College Alumni to build its image at home and abroad?
Principal: DhakaCollege can form an Alumni committee which could aim to build lifelong partnerships with ex-students of DhakaCollege. Alumni reunions are a wonderful opportunity for alumni to get together, reminisce, share experiences, exchange views and reconnect with the college. These alumni groups can contact the large number of alumni living overseas who can contribute for the infrastructural development of the college. New plans for research work can be taken from the donation donated by the successful ex-students.
The Guardian: In the end, as an eminent education what is your message for the teachers, students and for our future generation?
Principal: I would like our teachers to be very punctual and sincere and give their best efforts to make the classes as interesting as possible. Along with the prescribed texts the teachers should also teach the students moral values so that they can enlighten their community and make the world a better place to live in. A year long programme on “moral values has been taken for which a committee is formed. I would like my students to be modern, scientific minded, patriotic and philanthropic.
Profile of Prof Ayesha
Dr. Ayesha Begum was born in 1955 at the village Manikkandi, P.S.- Daudkandi under Comilla district. Her father is Moulovi Abdul Aziz and her mother is Sufia Khanom. Both her parents were education enthusiast, social worker and philanthropist.
Dr. Ayesha Begum did her S.S.C in 1970 from Kamrunnesa Govt. Girls’ High School and H.S.C in 1972 from Eden Girls’ College of Dhaka. She received her Honours and Masters degree in Bengali Language and Literature from DhakaUniversity. She was nominated by the University Grants Commission for a scholarship and she subsequently received her Ph.D in 2003 from DhakaUniversity. The title of the thesis was ‘Use of Bengali Language in the legal Proceedings: A stylistic analysis’. At the same time she completed because of her interest, the senior certificate course on Korean Language from the Modern Language Institute. Receiving scholarship from the Korean International cooperation Agency (KOICA), she also did the diploma on Korean language from the well-known khiongheUniversity of Seul, the capital of South Korea. Besides she completed one-year course on Persian language from Iranian cultural Centre.
She joined the teaching profession at the college level in 1980. She is quite well-known to the teachers for her sincerity and devotion in her profession. At present she is the principal of Dhaka College. She is also a part time teacher in the Bengali Department of the Modern Language Institute. She is the President of the ‘Bangla bhasha Shikkhok porshod’ an organization of the teachers of the Bengali language. She has profound interest in writing short story and essay.