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UGC Directs NU to Halt Undergraduate Admissions at Main Campus for 2023–24 Academic Year

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In a recent development, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has issued a directive instructing the National University (NU) authorities to abstain from admitting students at the undergraduate (honours) level for the upcoming academic year (2023–24) at its main campus.

A press release, endorsed by Dr Shamsul Arefin, Director of Public Relations and Information Rights Division, was disseminated on Sunday, highlighting this directive. As per the release, the UGC emphasized that this directive will remain in effect until further instructions are received from President Mohammed Shahabuddin, who also serves as the Chancellor.

The UGC had communicated with President Shahabuddin on January 25, expressing concerns about the decision to admit students to the National University main campus. The release specified that all admission activities outlined in the NU’s admission circular should be halted until the Chancellor issues additional directives.

The directive from the UGC underscored that the ongoing process of admitting students to undergraduate programs at the university’s main campus constitutes a clear violation of the National University Act. The Commission stressed that allowing admissions would disrupt the legal purpose of establishing the National University, leading to potential legal complications for students and causing distress for both students and parents.

Consequently, the UGC sought the President’s guidance to take necessary measures to prevent the admission of students into undergraduate programs at the main campus of the National University.

It is noteworthy that last year, the National University main campus had issued a notification inviting applications from interested students for enrollment in undergraduate (honours) programs in departments such as LLB, BBA, Tourism and Hospitality Management, and Nutrition and Food Science. During that period, the UGC had sent multiple letters instructing the suspension of student admissions at the main campus, indicating a recurrent concern in this regard.

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Schools Open for March 11-25 During Ramadan

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The government has opted to keep all secondary and primary schools operational for the initial 15 days of Ramadan, as per a correction in the academic calendar for 2024 announced today by the Ministry of Education. The amendment specifies that both public and private primary and secondary schools will remain open from March 11 to March 25.

A notification signed by Education Ministry Public Relations Officer Mohammad Abul Khair assures that classes and other academic activities will proceed as usual during this 15-day period. This adjustment represents a partial deviation from the holiday schedule and academic calendar outlined in the notification issued on December 13 of the previous year for the year 2024 (1430-1431 Bangla Calendar) for public and private primary and secondary schools.

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PM Sheikh Hasina to inaugurate Amar Ekushey Book Fair tomorrow

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The month-long Amar Ekushey Book Fair 2024 is poised to commence tomorrow at the Bangla Academy and Suhrawardy Udyan premises, with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina scheduled to inaugurate the country’s largest book fair.

Bangla Academy Director General poet Mohammad Nurul Huda confirmed that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected to inaugurate the fair at 3 pm. The premier will also present the Bangla Academy Literary Award-2023 to the winners and unveil book covers, including ‘Collected Works of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: Volume-2,’ published by Bangla Academy.

Organized by the Bangla Academy, this year’s book fair is themed “Paro Boi, Garo Desh: Bangabandhur Bangladesh” (Read Book, build country: Bangabandhu’s Bangladesh). A total of 937 stalls have been allocated to 635 organizations, with 173 stalls at Bangla Academy ground and 764 stalls at Suhrawardy Udyan. Additionally, 37 pavilions have been designated this year.

The fair’s entire organization is managed by Bangla Academy alone to avoid criticism, according to Dr. KM Muzahidul Islam, Member Secretary of the Amar Ekushey Book Fair Committee. Cultural programs, seminars, and activities for children and teenagers, including drawing, music, and recitation competitions, are planned.

Stall allotment for publications was carried out through a digitalized lottery system on January 23. The fair will be open from 3 pm to 9 pm on working days and 11:00 am to 9 pm on public holidays, with a one-hour break for lunch and prayers.

The Bangla Academy Literary Award-2023 will be presented in 11 categories for notable contributions to Bangla literature. DMP has taken measures to ensure security, deploying police personnel, setting up watchtowers, and employing CCTV cameras and drone surveillance for monitoring the fairground and surrounding areas.

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Ministry of Education Forms Expert Committee to Review ‘Sharifa’s Story’ in Textbook

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The Ministry of Education has established a high-level expert committee to review the inclusion of ‘Sharifa’s Story’ in a seventh-grade textbook, focusing on the experiences and challenges faced by a third gender or “Hijra” individual. The five-member committee, led by Islamic Arabic University Vice Chancellor Professor Abdur Rashid, aims to provide a more in-depth examination of the subject matter, assisting the National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB). Other committee members include Islamic Foundation Governor Mufti Maulana Kofil Uddin Sarkar, NCTB Member Mashiuzzaman, and Dhaka University Institute of Education and Research Director and Dhaka Alia Madrasah Principal Mohammad Abdur Rashid.

The controversy surrounding the story arose when Asif Mahtab, a part-time lecturer at BRAC University, objected to its inclusion in the textbook, claiming that students were being introduced to transgender and homosexual concepts. Mahtab’s public objection gained attention when he tore pages containing the story during a seminar on the new education curriculum. This act was widely shared on social media, leading to his termination by BRAC University.

On Tuesday, BRAC students protested the dismissal of Asif Mahtab. Education Minister Mohibul Hassan Chowdhury assured that if any inconsistencies or ambiguities are found in the story, it will be amended. The committee’s review is expected to contribute to the ongoing discussions and decisions regarding the inclusion of ‘Sharifa’s Story’ in the curriculum.

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