Universities could relaunch online classes after Eid

ByMike V. Cooper

Jul 1, 2022

Public and private universities across the country may introduce online courses and exams after the Eid-ul-Azha holidays as Covid-19 infections have risen rapidly.

Bangladesh’s Covid positivity rate has jumped to more than 15% in the past two days and the death toll is also on the rise.

Under these circumstances, the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) on Thursday decided to halt in-person classes for postgraduate courses.

Professor Mizanur Rahman, director of the Student Welfare Branch at Buet, told The Business Standard the decision was made on Thursday given the current Covid situation in the country.

Professor Dil Afroza Begum, acting chairman of the University Grants Commission, said the commission would send letters to public and private universities regarding the reintroduction of online courses, as instructed by the Ministry of Education.

“The Covid infection rate among young people is low, so we are awaiting guidance from the ministry,” she said.

Education ministry sources said the ministry is watching the infection rate and if the infection rate rises after the Eid holidays, the ministry will ask universities to resume online classes.

Public and private universities are ready to resume online classes because they have the experience, but none of them have shown much initiative to address the plight of poor and rural students.

In 2020 and 2021, most students in rural and remote areas were unable to attend online classes due to poor or non-existent internet connections and the cost of mobile data connections.

According to a 2021 survey of public universities, conducted by the University Grants Commission, some 87% of students have smartphones but most do not have an internet connection or cannot afford mobile data.

Professor AKM Maksud Kamal, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic) of Dhaka University, told TBS that they are ready to resume online classes with now more experienced teachers, compared to the pre-era. -Covid. Most students also have digital devices now.

“We will organize everything for online classes and even provide smartphones to students. No one will be able to attend online classes due to lack of digital devices or expensive data,” he said.

Professor Atiqul Islam, Vice-Chancellor of North-South University, told TBS that it is now easy for them to deliver courses and exams online. “Our teachers and students can start online lessons at any time and of course we will follow the government’s instructions.”

“We have granted a 20% tuition waiver to all students during the Covid period, especially between 2020 and 2021. There is a full scholarship for students whose parents have died,” he added .

Renowned virologist Professor Nazrul Islam, a member of the National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19, told TBS they would notify the government if they observed an abnormal increase in infections.

“The government must guarantee the wearing of masks in educational establishments which must be closed if the infection rate remains unchanged.”

The government closed all educational institutions in March 2020 to contain the spread of Covid-19 infection among students. Later, it allowed public universities to introduce online courses from March 30, 2020.

On April 30, 2020, the Ministry of Education decided to allow private universities to take online courses and exams amid the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.