On October 20th, 2017, Jagannath University has completed its twelve years of the establishment as a public university. But It doesn’t represent only these twelve years. The university has a history of almost hundred and sixty years. JnU has a unique story of being the supreme educational institute from a pre-primary school.
Another public university, The University of Dhaka is just three kilometers away from Jagannath University. Many students of JnU very often visit the Teachers and Students’ Centre (TSC) of Dhaka University. JnU students roam around TSC, Hakim Chattar, Curzon Hall, Jagannath Hall and many other places inside the territory of DU with a feeling of a common misery and contraposition. There is no far difference in merit between JnU and DU students. But miseries are permanent for all the JnU students as they don’t get their deserved accommodation and a fairly large campus like all other public universities in Bangladesh.
Crisis and Jagannath University are the closest companions of each other. Not only in the university era, crisis and Jagannath are companions from the pre-school era of Jagannath.
Jagannath’s story of rising as a university is very unique. Being the higher educational institution from a pre-primary school is an example of the fighting spirit of Jagannath. In the nineteenth century, Brahma Society established Dhaka Brahma School for the purpose of propagation of education in the Brahma Society. Zamindar Kishori Lal Roy had started funding Dhaka Brahma School in 1874 and named it after his father’s name. Since then the school had been recognizing as Jagannath School. Then it had upgraded as a college in 1884.
In 1921, the University of Dhaka was established. Dhaka University merged the degree students of Dhaka College and Jagannath College. All the teachers and the degree students of Jagannath College were transferred to Dhaka University. Most of the antique books and journals of Jagannath College Library were donated to form the Central Library of Dhaka University. With the establishment of the University of Dhaka, Indian Parliamentary Act relegated Jagannath College to an intermediate college. The University of Dhaka named a student’s dormitory as ‘Jagannath Hall’ to acknowledge the contribution of Jagannath College to establish the University of Dhaka.
Jagannath College was the center of culture and education in East Bengal. The influence reduced by the relegation of the college as an intermediate college. After three decades Jagannath started B. Arts and B. Commerce courses again. Jagannath College students were the frontier forces in every movement including the Bangavongo Andolan (Partition of Bengal). Muhammad Rafiquddin, a Jagannath College student martyred in the Language Movement in 1952. After the Education Right Mass Movement of 1962, Jagannath College started Co-education to provide education to women. Jagannath College becomes a center of 60’s regional freedom movement. The tricky government planned to convert Jagannath College into a government college to control the teachers and the students. In 1968, police arrested Comrade Moni Sinha, the founder of the Communist Party in East Pakistan. Following the incident, Thirty-Five professors of Jagannath College gave a statement against this. This resulted in the government to transform Jagannath College into a government college. The government tried to insult the teachers by forcing them to take part in the Public Service Commission Exam to prove their qualification. Many teachers resigned in protest of this decision. There is a saying that, if the University of Dhaka is the flame of all mass movements then Jagannath College is the fuel.
‘The Jagannath University Act 2005’ passed in the parliament and formed Jagannath University in 2005. This act was passed by a ‘black’ section 27(4). According to the section 27(4), the university will bear all the expenses of it after five years of its establishment. That means the government would not finance the university after the first five years. As a result, Jagannath University would act more like a private university rather than a public university. It was the reflection of the suggestion of World Bank. But the students revolt against this section and forced the government to withdraw this black section.
Not only this act. Jagannath University is deprived of dormitory service, unlike all other public universities. JnU is the only non-resident public university in Bangladesh. Though, Jagannath was one of the best educational institution of Bengal with residence service. JnU had 11 students’ dormitories. Each and every dormitory is ousted now. Students have been demanding dormitories since the establishment of JnU. None of the demands was fruitful.
For being a non-resident university, most of the students come to the university from different corners of Dhaka city. Some of the students come from Keraniganj, Savar, Narayanganj, Gazipur, and Meghna. But transportation system is very much afflicted. JnU doesn’t have sufficient buses. Available buses are not used properly. All the buses are used for a single trip in a day. As a result, student’s whose have classes in the morning don’t have the opportunity to return home just after the classes.
The university is running on the infrastructure of old college. These decayed old infrastructures don’t have the capability to bear the load of twenty-seven thousand students. In spite of having many deficits, the authority is focusing much on opening new departments. Many departments don’t have sufficient classrooms equipment’s and teachers.
Another reflection of the ‘prescription’ of World Bank, In ‘The Jagannath University Act 2005’ there doesn’t have any section on Central Students Union. A university is known as a democratic system of education but here the participation of students are not mentioned by its law. The university is arranging teachers’ association election, clerks’ association election regularly. But the fact of irony is, this university doesn’t have any authorized students union. Without this, it is quite impossible to demand students’ rights.
The only central cafeteria of JnU is running with many accuses against it. They serve inferior foods at a high price. There was no place like Teacher and Student Centre (TSC) of other universities in JnU. But in 2013 while the ‘Hall Movement’ were running students have declared a land in front of the main gate as the TSC. But the administration doesn’t show much willingness to make this a permanent TSC.
Convocation is a dream for each and every university student. Convocation is the opportunity to celebrate the joy of being a graduate. Unfortunate JnU graduates have never had the opportunity to celebrate their graduation in the twelve years of its establishment.
After the Gulshan Attack on July 2016, people become aware of terrorism. Apartment owners stopped lending their flats to the bachelors. As a result, flat rent rate raised high. Non-resident students of JnU fall in great trouble. From these grievances, a mass movement crystalized radically in the August 2016. Finally, the PM declared that a new campus of Jagannath University will be structured in Keraniganj.
After one year of JnU’s August Hall Movement government allocated 200 acres’ land in Keraniganj. We don’t know when the property will acquire. There is also a confusion about the terms “relocation of the campus” and “expansion of the campus”. The government has mentioned “relocation” in every government papers. On the other hand, the university administration is saying that the campus will expand in Keraniganj. Following this complexity, the future of this centenary campus will face a real devastating crisis.
JnU has prospered a lot in academics in compare to the other universities established in last decade. The main reason for this progression is its location. Thousands of students got admitted to Jagannath University only for the reason that it is located in the Dhaka Metropolitan Area.
Current campus of Jagannath University withholds a history of hundred years. It could be the center of the traditional and cultural practice of Puran Dhaka. If the antique structures of Puran Dhaka including Ruplal House, Ahsan Monjil were under the maintenance of Jagannath University, history could be preserved as well as educational purposes could be gained.
It’s quite impossible to solve all the problems of this university which has been established on a hundred years old college infrastructure. But it is possible to rescue ousted halls and building new halls in old central jail. Current court buildings can be relocated in Keraniganj near the new central jail. The current campus could be extended in these plots of court buildings. Relocating the branch Bangladesh Bank from the lung of JnU is very much essential.
Jagannath University has the capability of being the center of education, research, culture, and antiquity of Puran Dhaka by overcoming all this crisis. To pay respect that the centennial heritage of Jagannath University deserves, the university should be extended in Puran Dhaka instead of Keraniganj or anywhere else. If campus extension is impossible in Puran Dhaka, we’ve to protest the uproot project at least. We all have to remember the fact that to hold the history of Jagannath University, the campus can only be extended not relocated.
Author: Student, Department of Finance, Jagannath University, Dhaka.