Syful Islam reports for the Global Integrity Report: Bangladesh.
Rawayt Selim (not his real name) may seem to be a typical student at the Department of International Relations at the University of Dhaka, the oldest university in Bangladesh. What sets him apart from other students, however, is how he got there: Allegations by authorities claim that Selim gained admission, not by getting good grades, but by improper, illegal means.
In fact, Selim is only one of many students to illegally gain admission to the institution by paying bribes ranging from 300,000 taka to 500,000 taka (US$4,392 to US$7,320), paid to professors, university officials and leaders of the student wings of political parties.
The university’s fact-finding committee also discovered that many students who gained admission through illegal means have graduated from the university and are now working in both government and private firms in various capacities.
In the 18 month period before July 2008, the Dhaka University Syndicate, the highest decision-making body, cancelled the admissions of 230 students and dismissed four university officials on charges of corrupt practices. The authorities have also discovered that admissions department heads have made questionable recommendations in the applications of 25 students who eventually managed to obtain university admission through these corrupt practices, say sources in the fact-finding committee.
The University of Dhaka is a significant institution in Bangladesh. Most of the top civil servants, ministers and political leaders in Bangladesh are graduates. Less positively, many of those arrested in the recent anti-corruption drives also studied there.
According to Professor Yusuf Haider, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of Dhaka, and coordinator of the fact-finding committee, this corruption reflects the moral degradation of the country’s people as a whole. He states, “In addition to the teachers, university officials and leaders of student wings of political parties who were caught contributing to the fake admission process, both students and their parents are also responsible. It is the parents who gave their children the necessary money to buy these unearned admissions. Admission through illegal means is an impediment to the real goals of education and will encourage future corruption. The ideal of education as a way of learning decency and ethical practice is completely missing here.”
From the Top to the Bottom and Beyond
Corruption has been rampant in the country’s educational institutions from the primary to the university levels. Teachers are involved, too. They neglect their regular classes and deeply involve themselves in private teaching and consulting. They participate heavily in partisan politics and take full advantage of the situation when their faction comes to power. It is commonly known that the heads of many Bangladeshi educational institutions, including university vice-chancellors, principals of colleges and even headmasters of public schools, are appointed based on their political connections, rather than their professional skills.
The Coordination and Development (C&D;) Committee of the Institute of Nutrition and Food Science at the University of Dhaka recently tried to appoint a professor based on his political connections, clearly bypassing the appointment rules. This kind of action can be stopped only after a professor submits a note of dissent, university sources said.
Sources in the University of Dhaka also say more than half of their 1,550 teachers fail to participate in academics in one way or the other. As many as 245 teachers are staying abroad on a leave of absence, 25 have left without permission and some 300 are engaged in private teaching and consultancy with foreign and local institutions. This, among other problems, has resulted in overcrowded classes and has increased — up to two years — the length of time it takes for students to graduate and enter the workforce.
Making the Grades
Mostafa Kamal Majumder, editor of the New Nation newspaper, thinks that corruption in the education sector is pervasive mainly because getting jobs in both public and private sectors depends solely on getting a certificate, no matter the actual skills and abilities of the jobseeker. Even though higher education is not required for most jobs, students pursue higher education both to improve their employment chances and to seek social esteem.
Shafayet Ullah, an examinee at the higher secondary level, claims that his geography teacher forced him to pay 2,200 taka (US$32) to secure passing grades in the practical session of examinations. “The teacher did not teach a single class, but we still wanted to take the test and submit our practical sheets, but the teacher forced us to pay the money. This happens in every educational institution. I am really ashamed at how some teachers commit such sins and pollute a noble profession.”
Interviews with a number of students in several schools reveal that even students at the secondary education level have to pay bribes to the school authorities in exchange for selection for the lengthy secondary school certificate examinations. If they fail the test examinations, they have to pay 1,000 taka (US$15) to 1,500 taka (US$22) for each subject to ensure that they will be allowed to take the next round, the public examinations. Students are also required to bribe their teachers for the required marks in the practical examination sessions.
A most alarming situation prevails in the primary education sector. There, teachers go through a corrupt process that starts from the time they are appointed and lasts until they are retired. They are not required to spend adequate time in the classes while their students are being forced to pay bribes on different occasions. The teachers, in collaboration with school-managing committees, receive a certain portion of the government-allocated scholarship money and food. Similarly, the teachers must bribe the Upzila (a local government body) education officials in order to secure such essentials as training, transfers, monthly pay orders and retirement benefits.
Corruption in the Wider Society
Despite the present government’s crusade against corruption, it has not reduced petty corruption, observes Professor Muzaffer Ahmad, Chair of the Trustee Board of Transparency International, Bangladesh (TIB) chapter. “Only political corruption has been noticeably reduced because those leaders are in jail and remain inactive. It will take time to stop the systemic corruption.”
Professor Muzaffer also advocates pressing charges against a former adviser of the caretaker government who has reportedly amassed a huge sum of money through his misuse of power. Reacting to the practice of judges granting bail to some of the accused, Muzaffer says, “Judges are not guiltless.”
Asked about current trends of corruption and the government measures taken in response, Mostafa Kamal Majumder says, “Considering that the latest TIB report says that the corruption rate has increased, I do not think there is much more to be said on that question. I will put the whole thing in a different way: Corruption has to be prevented. Corruption is deeply rooted in poverty, deprivation and lack of distributive justice among other reasons. The problem with government initiative is that it entirely relies on the curative aspect of corruption without properly focussing on preventive measures.”
In the latest development, on September 9, 2009, the Anti-Corruption Commission (DUDOK: Durnitee Domon Commission) submitted charges against former law adviser and retired justice Fazlul Haque for amassing and hiding illegally gained wealth. Haque, an adviser to the caretaker government headed by President Iajuddin Ahmed, has reportedly acquired wealth worth 1.8 crore taka (US$261,251) beyond his known sources of income and concealed information on wealth worth about 91 lakh taka (US$132,076). He allegedly received the money in payment for transferring forest officials from their posts in order to allot some government lands to a privately owned housing company. Officials of the Anti-Corruption Commission have also uncovered huge sums from the bank accounts of his son and other relatives.
On July 30, 2008, the government formed a Truth and Accountability Commission (TAC) to allow accused officials and others to seek mercy by making voluntary public confessions. They could also avoid further prosecution in exchange for surrendering their ill-gotten wealth. However, most Bangladeshis do not like the idea of establishing such a commission when the anti-corruption drive is only halfway through its campaign.
The interim government has arrested more than 200 high-profile suspects, mostly political bigwigs from the Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, along with some top business executives and bureaucrats, on corruption charges since January 2007. From the citizens’ standpoint, these individuals deserve longer jail terms for their past deeds, not leniency. As a result, the appearance that the TAC was formed to help corrupt bigwigs escape justice has only created confusion among citizens over exactly where the government stands against corruption.
“If you ask the people about the formation of TAC to free the corrupt officials, you will get a variety of opinions. But most of the people will oppose a scheme to show mercy to them,” says Yusuf Haider, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor.
“The government’s previous tough stand against corruption has been compromised by the formation of the TAC,” notes Shahjahan Sipon, a young executive in the telecom sector.
In the meantime, a chief adviser to the caretaker government, Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed, has said that the suspects are being released on bail and the government has little say in this regard.
— Syful Islam
Currently several Lac Suits / Litigations are pending in Different District Courts due to illegal occupation of land ignoring documents and title right by miscreants.
The officials of Land Survey Department, Settlement Office and their Subordinate Office are also responsible for most of the litigations as they prepare records & parcha of land in the name of some other people or concern ignoring deed & title right. depriving the actual land owner.
The malpractices of Land Survey Department and Settlement Offices are know to all corner. .
It shall continue as the officials of the above organization can not be made responsible for loss and damages of owner of land since the colonial period to till date
Correction of records & parcha at present are very complicated , lengthy matter and expensive one , by this time the illegal occupier changes the faces of the lands
Government may consider to take immediate action to abolish system of POSSESSION RIGHT of land without any valid document or title right.
And shall also allow the application TORT LAW in Bangladesh without any delay to established accountability & prevent existing malpractices.
TORT LAW also protect poor people becoming more poor due to repression
It will be highly appreciated if you kindly circulate the above in all level for creation of awareness among the people and international community as well as Patriot Political Worker. Leader or Intellectual Group, & Policy Maker of the Country .
In Bangladesh People’s expectation & aspiration are for democratic system with arrangement of accountability and fair law like TORT LAW to combat malpractices and repression of people.
But all are frustrating till date
Several Lac Suits / Litigations are pending in Court due to illegal occupation of land ignoring documents and title right by Miscreants,
Land Survey Department Settlement Office and their Subordinate Office are also responsible for such activities as they prepare records & issue parcha in favor of land occupier ignoring deed & title right. depriving the actual land owner. intentionally.
It shall continue until TORT LAW are not allowed as valid law in Bangladesh like USA, EUROPE COUNTR, INDIA & NEPAL .
TORT LAW also protect poor people becoming more poor due to repression
Correction of records & parcha through Court is matter of life long litigation process & an expensive system ,which common people can not bear meantime the face of land changes.
GOVERNMENT may take action at earliest possible time to abolish system of POSSESSION RIGHT without any valid document or title right.
And shall also allow the application TORT LAW in Bangladesh without any delay to established accountability & prevent malpractices
It will be highly appreciated if you kindly circulate the above in all level for creating awareness among the people and international community as well as Patriot Political Worker. Leader or Intellectual Group, & Policy Maker of the Country .
There may be MORE THEN TEN LACKS suit / litigation pending in the Court of Bangladesh which are increasing everyday
Many of the litigation or Suit are due to force full occupation of land of innocent land owner ignoring documents and title right by Power full Groups and Local Miscreants (Commonly known as Social Worker) most of such occurrence are happened in whole country and largely in DHAKA CITY
Surprisingly Government Organization like Land Survey Department , Settlement Office and their Subordinate Office are also responsible for such activities as they issue records & parcha to the force full occupier ignoring right full ownership of land
And due to ABSENCE OF TORT LAW in Bangladesh and lack of accountability of the official , correction of such land records through the the Existing System of Court is matter of few Generation or a life long litigation , by this time the face of land changes to different shape with the help of above mentioned concern and many of the Murder , Killing are also responsible for such activities,
Our MINISTRY OF LAND , MINISTRY OF LAW; MINISTRY OF HOME & MINISTRY OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT may kindly take action at earliest possible time to help and stop such process by abolishing Law of POSSESSION RIGHT or the related laws and shall take immediate steps to kindly adopt or application of LAW OF TORT in Bangladesh. For THE GREATER INTEREST OF NATION ,
And Government may have details of the statistics country wide if some Non- Government Organization like Micro Credit Operator or other NGO working at root level are allowed to conduct survey from union level to the Dhaka City .
No extra fund will be required for allocation by the Government but will create opening to know the entire statistics of anomalies or malpractice of the above department .
It will be highly appreciated if you kindly circulate the above in possible way for creating awareness among the people and international community as well as Patriot Political Worker . Leader or intellectual group of the Country .