Vol. 5 Num 698 Wed. May 17, 2006  
Star City

Charukala students demand end to session jam

Students of the Institute of Fine Arts, popularly known as Charukala alleged that the existing dearth of teachers and classrooms in the institute has not been addressed yet.

Frustrated with the situation, students said that it takes them more than ten years to finish their education at the institute thanks to persisting session jams.

Hannan Ahmed, a student said that there are usually 75 to 80 students in a fresh batch each year.

"In the Print Making department, there are only four classrooms and three teachers for 9 to 10 batches. Such inadequate facilities add to huge session jams", Ahmed said.

Another student from Painting department said there are a total of 11 batches (both undergraduate and graduate) running with seven classrooms where two of them are occupied by two graduate batches, leaving five classes for nine undergraduate batches.

Students complain that many teachers belong to the ruling party. They alleged that these teachers favour students who belong to the same political wing.

"If this political recruitment of teachers continues, it will not only bring disrepute to the institute but allow neutral students like us drown in quicksand," said Ahmed Sharif, another student.

Previously known as Government College of Arts and Crafts, the institute came under the University of Dhaka in 1983 and was renamed as Institute of Fine Arts. It was in the 1992/93 sessions that the full-fledged Honours program began.

When the honours program started, the existing "Pre-BFA" (pre Bachelor of Fine Arts) degree students were merged with the new system.

Students allege that the main reasons for such ghastly session jams are teachers' negligence, non-co operation from the top management, poor administration, less classrooms and resources. In spite of all these limitations, 11 batches are still studying with around 80 students in each batch or session.

Another student from the Department of Print Making requesting anonymity said: "Because of shortage in classrooms and machine rooms, classes are suspended for at least six months after a continuous three to four months in each department. The administration has not made any arrangements for extra classrooms in last eight years," he said.

"It is during this big break the frustrated students take up jobs and in a way derail themselves from studies. We hear that 300 students from the institute are currently working or involved with animation firms around Dhaka," he added.

Renowned artist and cartoonist, Prof Rafiqun Nabi of Painting Department said: "There is a crisis of classrooms at the moment contributing to persisting session jam. To address this problem, we are trying to take the examinations on time and publish the results as soon as possible."

"A new building for the administrative section is under construction. If it moves there then the vacant rooms can be used as classrooms", he added.

But no one from the institute could tell when construction will be finished.

When contacted the institute director, Farida Zaman admitted the scarcity of classrooms, but did not want to make any further comment on the allegations by the students.

Meanwhile other teachers said that students are instructed to start the next year's class right after finishing the current year's final exam, but students do not agree to this.

"If they do not start classes right away and ask for a break, the session jam will never end," said one teacher.

"The main reason for this session jam was created with the old system running parallel to the new one. It is not easy to run both courses side by side with such limited resources," said another teacher.

Students said that the art materials are very expensive. In the Department of Painting, a student at least needs five canvases of good quality which are around Tk 5,000 each and other utensils like colours which total to an amount of Tk 7,000 just to appear in one exam.

The university does not provide any subsidised items, but students of physics of the Dhaka University (DU) get graph paper free of cost during exams and for other assignments.

"All obstacles added, it takes a student eight years instead of four years to complete the course," another student said.

Campus of Institute of Fine Arts, popularly known as Charukala. PHOTO: STAR