“No matter how big we are, we hang our heads in humility when we meet our teachers.Teachers are society’s conscience. Their honour is always at the top. They cannot be compared to anyone else, because the teachers are teachers, I have been taught by them. I may be the prime minister, but I can say for certain that teachers occupy a much higher pedestal,” Hasina said, looking at the teachers in the gathering.” prime minister Sheikh Hasina said on Wednesday. The prime minister was addressing a programme organised on Wednesday to award public university students who had topped the honours examinations.She handed over gold medals to over to 74 meritorious students of 2011 and 92 of 2012 at a function held in the International Conference Centre in her office. The University Grants Commission instituted the ‘Prime Minister’s Gold Medal’ in 2006 for excellence in higher education.The highest scorer in each discipline at the graduation level in public universities is selected for this award.
“The state runs on the money of toiling farmers and workers. The country runs on the contributions of the working people. The fundamental question is ‘how much are we giving to people at the grass root’?” she told the award-winning students. She expressed happiness over a large number of female students being awarded and for being able to hand over medals to meritorious students.
She said, “Every district will have a public and private university. The government is working in that towards that.”
“After our government began running the country, including for a second consecutive term, 11 new public universities have been established, and 33 new universities have been sanctioned, taking their number from 52 to 85,” she said, stressing the need for a well-spread and multifaceted educational infrastructure.
The prime minister said the government had initiated steps to make higher education contemporaneous and multi-dimensional.
Teachers of public universities have been campaigning against the Eighth National Pay Scale since the government announced it in September and had it gazetted in December last year.Earlier, in the Seventh National Pay Scale, public universities’ selection grade professors enjoyed the top grade along with secretaries and major generals.Senior professors had been placed in Grade-2 and professors in Grade-3. The new pay scale retained the grades of professors and senior professors but did not separately mention the selection-grade professors, which has become one of the issues triggering the protest.
The teachers, from 37 public universities, on Saturday also called for a nonstop work abstention from Jan 11 until the ‘discrimination’ against teachers in the pay scale was done away with.Their organisation, the Federation of Bangladesh University Teachers Associations, also decided that its members would wear black bands on Jan 3 and observe a two-hour strike on Jan 7 at all public universities.The teachers have also demanded a separate pay scale for them and a review of the new pay scale.National teacher Prof Anisuzzaman and Nazrul scholar Rafiqul Islam were among the guests at the function.
“The ‘Higher Education Quality Enhancement Project’ is being implemented at a cost of Tk 7.52 billion. In this, 196 subsidiary programmes are running at a cost Tk 3.71 billion.” She also mentioned high-speed Internet connectivity established at a cost of Tk 3.32 billion to access the realm of world knowledge.
“Digital books and journals are now easily available at higher education institutions. Internationally renounced educationists are being contacted with the help of virtual technology.”