Leaders of Bangladesh Teachers' Network on Thursday said unplanned online education will be suicidal for universities in the country.
Online classes can be conducted to recover students' academic losses for the Covid-19 pandemic, but it will harm them if it is done without necessary preparation and creates discrimination among the students, said the teacher leaders.
The teachers' network also demanded that the Digital Security Act 2018 is abolished so that the freedom of expression of teachers and students can be ensured. Online classes will not be effective if the act exists.
The teacher leaders expressed their opinion at an online press briefing on Thursday.
Dhaka University teacher Samina Lutfa and Rajshahi University teacher Bakhtiar Ahmed read out a written statement at the press briefing.
The teachers were against introducing online classes in all courses, except for the post-graduate ones, saying this will not be wise to start such classes at honours level without acquiring sufficient technology.
They said in the written statement that public universities have not yet fulfilled the minimum criteria to introduce online classes and that they must consider the real problems of teachers and students before beginning online classes.
Most students have gone to their native homes and they have no internet facilities there. Many of them are not able to buy computers or smart phones.
Mentioning an online survey by a department of the University of Dhaka, they said, 40 percent of the university's students are unable to buy devices and internet packages. This number may reach higher if students of all public universities are taken into account.
Starting online classes without ensuring internet access for all will create discrimination among students.
Besides, most teachers are not trained in conducting virtual classes.
The written statement said, "We are deeply concerned that we could not see any initiative to remove the impediments to start online classes."
"No university has the curriculum, academic calendar and any direction about taking practical exams. The initiative of introducing online classes is not realistic. We assume tha students will have to face another disaster if the classes are started hastily just for an eyewash," the statement said.
Initiatives needed to recover academic losses
The Bangladesh Teachers' Network suggested the government to take a long-term plan to improve the quality of higher education.
It recommended providing Tk3,000 monthly stipend to impoverished students for a year, Tk20,000 each for 50 percent students for buying digital devices, and decreasing tuition fees at least by 50 percent for the private university students.
They also recommended that the authorities concerned take a roadmap to revisit the curriculum.
Professor Anu Muhammad and Professor Kamrul Hasan Mamun, among others, also spoke at the press conference.