between the lines
Branding educational institutions in Bangladesh
19.07.2011 The Financial Express
I was quite intrigued, when a niece of mine studying at Dhaka University’s prestigious business school, IBA (Institute of Business Administration) told me the other day that she expected the business school of North South University to over take IBA within next two to three years. Her comment possibly emanated from the fact that teachers there having taken everything for granted are not so committed towards their students whom they consider very good. Only recently, a senior economist working for a leading think tank , who himself is from Dhaka University’s Economics department, was telling me, how happy he was to see the marked improvement in the quality of the Economics graduates from Jahangirnagar University. I was very surprised to know that a leading private university recruited more than three faculties having graduated from Asia Pacific University’s Pharmacy department, despite the fact that the university is not rated very high.
The other day, when I went to see Dr. Akbar Ali Khan, the former adviser to the caretaker government and a practising economist, he made an observation that most private universities of the country were nothing but business schools. But his assessment may not be befitting in the case of BRAC University, where department of Architecture and Institute of Governance Studies are providers of high standard education. I am sure there are many other departments in North South or Independent universities, other than their business schools, are imparting quality education to students. Not many people may not be aware of that fact. Again, despite having presence in the same vicinity, NSU is much ahead in business education, possibly the university being led by a renowned business professor of our time.
While going through the newspaper pages these days, you will feel sad about Viqarunnisa Noon School or Ideal School. At least I am feeling very bad about Viqarunnisa School, my very loving sister went to that school, along with many other relatives. We were very proud of that school, so are many of my friends, relatives and so on. Six of their teachers (with two already charged), now are on the `black list’, for not doing justice to their students.
There is no denying that we suffer from serious dearth of good schools. And having no option, people will naturally throng to these schools or universities and life will be `business as usual’. Not really. My marketing teacher at Kellogg can never be wrong. When there will be options, the people will give their reply, and at times, quite ruthlessly, like what they do during national elections. Things might turn sour for Dhaka University in the future. Once NSU, BRAC or IUB start attracting and retaining better teachers, ensure good research environment and, in the meantime, people here in Bangladesh can afford to pay little more for quality education, Dhaka University would come down in the league table or may not find a place in the league table, if they don’t do their home work right. No doubt, ten years down the line there will be new inclusions in the league table and few drop outs too.
We were interviewing a few EMBA admission aspirants at NSU, recently. There were a few individuals who had their graduation in engineering/computer science from Shahjalal University of Science and Technology(SUST) and they are now working for Grameenphone. I asked a few of them — what makes them most proud. Almost all of them answered-‘our teacher Professor Muhammad Jafar Iqbal’. You see- one single teacher can also contribute significantly towards brand building for an institution.
Liberal environment, mutual respect, learning opportunities, ‘deep dive’ research, commitment to the success of the students, attracting some iconic figures to share from their time-earned wisdom, can make all the differences. Not autocratic or deceiving environment or regimental culture, but a shared vision can help boost the image of an educational institution.
(Mamun Rashid is a banker and economic analyst. He can be reached at:[email protected])