Rajshahi College playing pivotal role in making digital Bangladesh

--- Professor Habibur Rahman

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In British governed Bangladesh, Rajshahi College deserved the recognition of glorified credence after the famous Presidency College of Calcutta,  said Professor Md. Habibur Rahman, Vice-Principal of Rajshahi College, in an exclusive interview with The Guardian.

In this context, he informed us that   before the partition of Bengal, this second largest College of the Indo-Pak Sub-Continent was the centre point of higher education in East Bengal, North Bengal, Bihar, Purnia and Assam region.

The learned Vice-Principal further informed that keeping its long-earned tradition and history untarnished, the renowned Rajshahi College has been playing its due role in spreading higher education and    developing literature, culture and modern spirit of life in present Bangladesh.

In this context, Professor Rahman mentioned that the college administration is determined to take rapid decision to implement any education related principles, strategies, aims and objectives of the Government of Bangladesh.

He then mentioned that emphasizing on quality and standard education, Rajshahi College renders an untiring effort to create skilled and efficient human resource to implement the digital Bangladesh concept and Vision 2021 of  the Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

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He accordingly informed us that the college ensured Internet facility using broad-band connection two years ago and information about teachers and students is regularly updated in the college website, adding that all academic activities have been digitalized to facilitate both teachers and students.

He also informed us that teachers are making use of the digital contents in the classroom activities through multimedia projectors and admission and form fill-up programmes have also been digitalized to ensure transparency, accountability as well as to expedite all official activities, even the financial transaction is done on online, adding that the outstanding results of the students at HSC, Honours and MA reflect the tireless efforts of both teachers and students.

The Vice-Principal further informed us that computer education is imparted to thousands of students every year through ICT Unit under the supervision of National University, and thus Rajshahi College is playing a pivotal role in making digital Bangladesh in real sense of the term.

While commenting on the present education policy, Professor Rahman said that the formulation of National Education Policy-2009 is an epoch-making step in the education system of Bangladesh and considering the necessity and significance of the education sector, the incumbent government took initiative to implement the policy immediately after the formation.

A high profile educationist, Professor Rahman also let Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid know his thanks and gratitude for this timely and practical education policy, which reflects the expectation of  the entire nation.

The Vice-Principal also expected that there will be a basic change in the education system of Bangladesh if the present education policy is implemented properly.

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In an exclusive interview, the Vice-Principal replied to a good number of questions, covering the glorious history, limitations, developments and contributions and different other relevant issues of the college. His deliberations are not simply wonderful rather quite interesting, informative and educative also. The excerpts of his valuable interview are produced here for The Guardian readers at home and abroad:

The Guardian: Please tell us something in brief about the role of historic Rajshahi College in higher education, literature and cultural developments in Bangladesh.

Vice-Principal: Traditionally and historically renowned Rajshahi College has been playing its due role through spreading higher education in this country. The College also has been playing an important role in developing literature, culture and modern spirit of life.

In British governed Bangladesh Rajshahi College deserved the recognition of glorified credence after the famous Presidency College of Calcutta. Before partition of Bengal, this second largest college was the centre point of higher education in East Bengal, North Bengal, Bihar, Purnia and Assam region.

In course of time for providing higher education to the students of Boalia English School which was well-known as Collegiate School, the people of Rajshahi felt greatly the need of establishing a college. As a result, Rajshahi College was set up in 1873.

The F.A class of Rajshahi College started in Rajshahi Zilla School with six students including a Muslim student in 1873. For its gradual success Rajshahi Association proposed to make the college a first class educational institution in 1878. This association helped collect money for this purpose and the timely contribution of one lac and fifty thousand taka by the king of Dighapatia, Promo-thanath Roy, served the purpose. Rajshahi College achieved the status of first class college in 1878.

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Rajshahi College faced many difficulties after two years of starting its journey, because the government decided to close Rajshahi College. But this plan was foiled by the effort of Rajshahi Association. Rajshahi Association expressed their firm determination to open B.A. course and to make Rajshahi College stronger instead of closing it.

The Association requested the government in this regard. This Association sought necessary support and financial help to materialize their honest planning. For this they visited the landlords and kings in their locality. The generous king of Dighapatia and Chairman of Rajshahi Association, Promothanath Roy Bahadur, selflessly donated Tk 150000.00 (one lac fifty thousand taka) at a time to introduce Degree course in Rajshahi College. This donation was extraordinary in the perspective of that time.

It was the king Promothanath Roy who took initiative to introduce B.A Course in Rajshahi College, adding two more classes along with F.A. Class. Other kings, landlords of this region became interested in the development of Rajshahi College and responded enthusiastically to the request of the Rajshahi Association.

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The Guardian: So far we came to know that behind the establishment of Rajshahi College, many great persons contributed by donating funds, lands and services. Please tell us something about this.

Vice-Principal: In October 1877 Rajshahi College got approval of introducing Degree course by the then government and B.A class was started in 1878 in this college. Mr. F.T Dowding joined as the principal in 1879. Rajshahi College turned into a separate institution after introducing B.A class. Rajshahi Association tried to collect money to build an academic building of its own and started the campaign of the building construction through `Rajshahi Meeting’.

The kings and landlords of the region responded eagerly to the Association and the mother building of Rajshahi College was erected in 1884 by the kings, lords and well-off people of this locality.

In 1884 ‘Memorial Fund’ was opened to help poor students by the financial support of Rajshahi Association. Per student Tk 6 monthly fee was fixed by the efforts of the Association. This kind of facility was hardly available in any colleges at that time. The movement of Rajshahi Association was admirable and strong enough to develop this College.

Consequently, this college reached the peak of success and started to have the status of a famous college as Calcutta Presidency College after the short span of its establishment. The transfer system between Rajshahi College and Calcutta Presidency College was introduced. Calcutta University Authority gave approval of teaching Law and M. A. in Rajshahi College, considering the standard of education and educational environment. After introducing B.L. and M.A. courses, the students got the opportunity of higher education   in the college.

Monomohini Devy, the Queen of Puthia, donated twenty thousand taka in 1882 for the Law class in Rajshahi College. After the introduction of M.A. course in Rajshahi College in 1893 and withdrawn approval of M.A. course in 1909, eight students in total got M.A degree from this college. That time students could sit for M.A. examination after one year of passing B.A. In 1894 only two students Mr. Choyen Uddin and N.N. Lahiri were sent for M.A examination for the first time from this College.

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Rani Hemantakumari Sanskrit College was introduced in 1904 to teach Sanskrit. Roy Bahadur Kumudini Kanta Bannerjee was the principal at that time. Rani Hemantakumari of Puthia donated Tk 17000.00 for the construction of Sanskrit College Building. Besides, she donated papers of Tk 1780.00 annually to bear expenditure of Sanskrit College. The Sanskrit College was conducted as the branch of Rajshahi College and turned into a glorious centre for Sanskrit practice.

Under Rajshahi College ‘Basanta Kumar Roy Agricultural Institute’ was founded by the initiative of Kumar Basanta Kumar Roy, son of Raja Promothanath Roy. He donated Tk 250000.00 (two lac fifty thousand) for this institution. Vedas, Smrity, Mythology, Philosophy, Sanskrit, Grammar and Poetry, etc. were taught there without fees. Students got opportunity to stay without fees at Maharani Hemanta Kumari Hostel.

After the separation of Indo-Pak subcontinent this institute deteriorated and was finally closed after some years. Roy Bahadur Kumudini Bannerjee, a renowned educationist performed his duties and responsibilities as principal with great sincerity during 1897-1918 and 1920-1924. In his administrative period huge development work was done in this college. When he was the principal, a big dighi named ‘Deorajer Mahakal Dighi’ at the southern side of the college was filled with sand and later it was turned into a playground.

The Guardian: It is learnt that Rajshahi College is the institution which first started female education in Bangladesh. Would you tell us something about this?

Vice-Principal: There was no opportunity to provide higher education for women of this region at that time. After the establishment of Rajshahi College, co-education was not introduced for more than fifty years in this college. In 1933, Principal Provu Datta Shastree (1933-1935) introduced co-education in Rajshahi College. Consequently, the door for higher education for girls was opened in this region.  Principal B.M Sen (Bhupati Mohon Sen from 1930-31) before the principal P.D. Shastree managed separate classes for them.

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On the request of the guardians eight Hindu and Muslim girls were permitted to get admission in Rajshahi College.  Principal B.M Sen took admission of these girls and arranged separate classes for them. However, the government did not give approval of separate class for the girls.  So the next year girl students’ admission was closed. Then in 1933 co-education was introduced in Rajshahi College by the efforts of Rajshahi Association and P.D. Shastree. Girl students’ admission time extended till 10 November 1933 after getting approval of co-education. In 1933 only five girl students had got themselves admitted in the first year.

Once upon a time Rajshahi College was called the Oxford of the East for its talented and meritorious principals. This college was administered by those principals very effectively in co-operation with a qualified and educative body. Many famous personalities emerged from this College. Before the establishment of Rajshahi University, Rajshahi town gained the recognition as an educational town because of Rajshahi College, which became renowned for its administration, management, teaching and learning and, above all, for students’ brilliant results. It really created its own tradition, culture and history. In the past, the main attraction of Rajshahi town was Rajshahi College.

In this context it is quite relevant to mention what Professor Nripendra Chandra Bannerjee commented about Rajshahi College, “The college had grown to be real power in the town and the district. It was almost like state within a state and we instilled into the bodies and breadth with our nostrils the hygenic air of freedom.”

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The Guardian: Please tell us something about the establishment of Rajshahi University, especially the role of Rajshahi College behind the establishment of the university.

Vice-Principal: The role of the students of Rajshahi College in Rajshahi University Movement and the demand to establish a medical college hospital in Rajshahi town was admirable. Rajshahi College played an important role to develop education, culture and progressive political thoughts and spirit which helped establish Rajshahi University and Rajshahi Medical College. The students of Rajshahi College also participated actively in language movement in 1952. As a result, the monument of the martyrs was built for the first time in Rajshahi College.

The Guardian: In this context, would you comment about the success and contribution of Rajshahi College students in their professional life as well as in national and international levels?

Vice-Principal: Thousands of students of Rajshahi College have become professors, researchers, litterateurs, historians, lawyers, doctors, administrators, engineers, politicians etc. and they became famous in their respective fields.

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Premchand, Roychand, Scholar Sir Jodunath Sarker , Historian Aukshoy Kumar Motrai, Khan Bahadur Choyen Uddin, Roy Bahadur N. N. Lahiri, Khan Bahadur Emaduddin, Dr M. N. Huda, Sculptor Majharul Islam, Demagogue Mather Bokhs including many other meritorious and famous personalities received education from this college.

Principal Shree Har Gobina Sen, Principal F. T. Dawding, Principal  A. C. Edward, Principal W. B. Living Stone, Principal Roy Bahadur Kumudini Kanta Bannerjee, Principal T. T. Williums, Principal W. A. Jenkis, Principal Dr. Provu Datta Shastree, Principal J. M. Bose, Principal Shree Kumar Bannerjee, Principal Dr. Snehamoyo Datta, Principal Momotaj Uddin Ahamad, Principal Dr. I. H. Juberi, Professor Shree Basanta Kumar Chatterjee, Professor Sultanul  Islam, Professor Dr. Muhammad Enamul Haque, etc. of Rajshahi College brought name and fame by their extraordinary talent, wisdom and management skills for both the college and the country.

The renowned educationists of Rajshahi College have become the part of glorious history not only for Rajshahi College for ever but also for the education history of the country for ever.

The Guardian: Please mention the names of courses or departments are currently available at Rajshahi College and the number of students studying at these departments.

Vice-Principal: At present there are three higher secondary courses in Rajshahi College, namely Science, Commerce and Humanities Groups. There are 24 departments in the college. Among those, 22 departments offer 4-year honours course and one-year Master’s course.

These departments are Bengali, English, Economics, Philosophy, Psychology, History, Islamic History, Arabic and Islamic Studies, Geography, Sociology, Social Work, Political Science, Management, Accounting, Marketing, Finance and Banking, Statistics, Zoology,  Botany, Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics.

Currently, there are about 26,000 students studying at Rajshahi College.

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The Guardian: We’ve heard that Rajshahi College stands first in the last year’s HSC results of Rajshahi Education Board. Please discuss the teaching system, facilities and development activities for HSC education at Rajshahi College.

Vice-Principal: For about one and a half century we have been proceeding, holding this tradition. Now the administration is thinking about the lesson plan and academic calendar to keep up this flow. To cope with the frequent changes in curriculum, syllabus and the global changes academic calendar and lesson planning are very important as the college aims at effective teaching and learning, using time properly, developing moral values in students, stimulating patriotism in students and making students human resource.

The college   strictly follows the rules and regulations and provides education to students according to the plans made by the administrative body. Every student of higher secondary level of this college is to come with uniform and identity card.

Minimum 75% attendance is compulsory and the students who have less than 75% class attendance are not qualified for filling in forms for internal and public examinations.   Students are to be present in minimum 80% practical classes. Those who fail in the final examination of XI class are not promoted in class XII. Students who do not pass in the final examination of xii class are not allowed to sit for public examination. Practical classes begin from the first week of admission.

After completion of every chapter MCQ and written tests are held. If any student is absent in the test, 5 attendance is curtailed from the total attendance.  Chapters of 1st and 2nd terminal examinations are included in the annual examination and in the test examination chapters of pre-test are included.

Class tests are taken regularly and the results of class tests are added in all internal examinations of 11th and 12th classes. First paper in the 11th class and second paper in the 12th class are added in all the lessons except Biology.

All the evaluation sheets in the internal examinations are shown to students and   guardians are informed about their children’s progress providing them progress report which is prepared on their internal examinations.

The college authority can take punitive measures if students break the principles of the college. Both guardians and students provide satisfactory support to maintain rules and regulations to do bright results. As a result, Rajshahi College has secured first position in Rajshahi Education Board in 2013 HSC result.

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The Guardian: Would you discuss the teaching system, facilities and development activities for Honours and Master’s level education at Rajshahi College.

Vice-Principal: Rajshahi college administration has been arranging class tests, in-course and test examinations to make teaching and learning effective at Honours and Master’s levels. Minimum two class tests are taken in every course. Test examination result is published formally and those who do bright results are rewarded.

Class attendance is given importance. For this, every teacher has to use separate attendance register for calling roll regularly and the students who have satisfactory attendance are given recognition.

National University has been introduced in-course exam system in 2014, depending on class attendance. Rajshahi College is strictly maintaining the instructions introduced by National University.

Every department of Rajshahi College is going to introduce academic calendar and course plan for 1st Year, 2nd Year, 3rd Year, and 4th Year honours courses from the session 2013-2014.

It is mentionable here that the departments of Rajshahi college have been teaching according to its academic calendar and course plans. Sometimes internal exams are held in the afternoon so that teaching activities may not be interrupted.

College vigilance team supervises academic activities of this college and submits reports accordingly to the college administration daily.

College administration has suggested every department to buy multimedia equipments and issued orders to the teachers about taking classes using multimedia so that the teaching and learning might be more fruitful.

The results of Honours and Masters courses are quite satisfactory and the students of Rajshahi College often take places in the merit list of twenty students.

The Guardian: As an eminent educationist, would you comment about present national education policy of Bangladesh?

Vice-Principal: Formulation of National Education Policy-2009 is an epoch-making step in the education system of Bangladesh. Considering the necessity and significance of implementing education policy, the incumbent government took  initiative to implement the policy immediately after formation by the government.

I would like to let  Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid  know my thanks and gratitude for formulating this unprecedented education policy. This policy is timely and practical as it reflects the expectation of the entire nation. There will be a basic change in the education system of Bangladesh if the present education policy is implemented properly.

The Guardian: You know our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina dreams of making Digital Bangladesh through implementing her Vision 2021 and accordingly the Prime Minister has called upon all to work together to make her dream a reality. Would you say what steps Rajshahi College has taken to make digital Bangladesh?

Vice-Principal: The college administration is determined to take rapid decision to implement any education related principles, strategies, aims and objectives of the government. In response to the call of Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Internet facility was ensured using broad-band connection two years ago. Information about teachers and students is regularly updated in the college website.

Besides, all academic activities have been digitalized to facilitate both teachers and students. Teachers are making use of the digital contents in the classroom activities through multimedia projectors. Admission and form-fill up programmes have also been digitalized to ensure transparency, accountability as well as to expedite all official activities. Even financial transaction is done on line.

Emphasizing on quality and standard education, Rajshahi College renders untiring efforts to create skilled and efficient human resource to implement the Digital Bangladesh concept and Vision-2021, declared by the Honourable Prime Minister. The outstanding results of the students at HSC, Honours and MA reflect the tireless effort of both teachers and students. Computer education is imparted to thousands of students every year through ICT Unit under the supervision of National University. Thus Rajshahi College is playing a pivotal role in masking Digital Bangladesh.

The Guadian: Since Rajshahi College is going to step in 200 years of its struggle and success soon, we think the college should proceed to celebrate its legends. Would you say something about this?

Vice-Principal: Of course, we would proceed to do it. You will also be glad to know that  in 1933 the Diamond Jubilee of Rajshahi College was celebrated.Professor P.D Shastree was then the Principal of the college. This ceremony was inaugurated by the then Education Minister Khaja Najimuddin. In 1988, centenary ceremony of Rajshahi College was celebrated. Dr. Md. Abul Kasem was then the Principal of the college.

The Guadian: Last of all, would you please give your concluding message?

Vice-Principal: From the glorious past, Rajshahi College has been playing its due role and responsibilities through educating students properly and contributing a lot to build up the nation. We are proud to be the part of the college. We wish gradual improvement and success of Rajshahi College.

Profile of Professor Habibur Rahman

Professor Md. Habibur Rahman, son of Md. Makbul Hossain and Saikul Bibi, was born on 4 February 1962 at the village Gopinathpur under Gomostapur upazila of Chapai Nawabgonj district. He duly passed the SSC and HSC examinations from Gomostapur Q.A.M. Pilot High School and New Govt. Degree College, Rajshahi in 1977 and 1979 respectively. He obtained B. Sc. (Hons) Degree in Chemistry from Rajshahi University in 1982. In 1983 he obtained Master’s Degree in Chemistry from the same university and stood first class first.

He joined the BCS (General Education) Cadre as a lecturer in Chemistry at Phulbari Govt. College. After a long service of teaching, he joined Rajshahi College as the  Vice-Principal on 5 July, 2009. Before joining this post, he was the Professor of the Department of Chemistry in Rajshahi College.

Prior to this, he was also the Professor and the Head of the Department of Chemistry of Govt. Edward College, Pabna. Besides, during his long teaching career, Professor Rahman joined different academic and administrative trainings and conducted TOT programme in the HSTTI, Rajshahi as a trainer.

Professor Rahman loves to adapt himself with changes that appear inevitably with the passage of time and he can successfully resolve different sorts of disputes through his administrative and academic dynamism. Apart from carrying out administrative responsibilities, he takes classes and loves to observe classes conducted by other teachers.

He can easily accept suggestions and positive qualities even of his juniors. He highly appreciates teachers who come forward with new ideas and strategies. As a result, the teachers of Rajshahi College have developed the skills of using multimedia, digital content and other modern equipments in the classroom. Co-teaching through two teachers in a single classroom is a new concept in the realm of education research and this latest idea has already been introduced here.

Professor Rahman emerges as a personality, whose spirit never extinguishes despite maintaining a complex routine. Passion for teaching and a well developed administrative skill through experience have raised him to an enviable standard. Like a true leader, he has been guiding teachers and boldly facing the challenges that frequently take place in the process of materialising the vision of Rajshahi College.