BANGA BANDHU SHEIKH MUJIBUR RAHMAN MARITIME UNIVERSITY, BANGLADESH

by F R Chowdhury

sheikh-mujib-maritime-university

I think it was about 3 years back that the Prime Minister visited the Juldia Marine Academy and declared that Bangladesh will soon have a maritime university. The Bangladeshi marine community at home and abroad were delighted with the news. Since then we were eagerly looking forward to any further action in this respect. We certainly expected a wide ranging consultation with all concerned. On 27-October-2013 a gazette notification published, for the benefit of the public, Act Number 47 of 2013 to bring an abrupt end to all speculations. The marine community were shocked and deeply disappointed the same way as they were delighted and excited with the original announcement of the prime minister.

The academy has been functioning since 1962. The father of the nation Sheikh Mujib had a big contribution – not in setting up the academy but in its re-birth after the liberation of Bangladesh. The nation started re-building its armed forces immediately after the independence. The prime location and all available facilities in the marine academy was a desired venue for the navy to start the naval academy. We cannot blame them for such desire when there was no merchant ship under Bangladesh flag. Capt. QABM Rahman was at that time the principal adviser on maritime matters. He assured the then prime minister Sheikh Mujib that Bangladesh would soon have its own fleet and would require the services of the academy to sustain the growth. Sheikh Mujib had no hesitation in making the right decision. Captain M. L. Rahman was appointed the first Bangladeshi commandant of the academy (in addition to his duties as Principal Officer of the Mercantile Marine Department). It was because of the timely decision of the father of the nation that marine academy still stands proudly on the bank of Karnafuli and serves the nation with more vigour than ever before; and more and more of our mariners are reaching every corner of the world.

Here I must mention how the newly born nation developed its shipping under dynamic leadership of Capt. QABM Rahman, Capt. Shafi and Mr. QMS Zaman. All three of them had merchant marine background. Many experts around the world treated it as a miracle in shipping history. Those were the glorious days of shipping in Bangladesh. Retention of the marine academy under the ministry of shipping as a training centre for merchant marine turned out to be a brilliant idea. We must retain it and develop it further to achieve higher glories.

Now we shall discuss about the ridiculous Act Number 47 of 2013. In the very preamble it states that the university will be setup with the existing facilities of the marine academy. This means the end of marine academy. Only the other day we celebrated golden jubilee of the academy which can be proudly termed as a rare story of success in Bangladesh. It has been celebrated by Juldians all over the world. The academy project is a “dream come true”   vision of the father of the nation. Why do we have to destroy it?

The concept of marine academy and maritime university are distinctly separate. The marine academy, under the ministry of shipping, is an institute that provide vocational and professional education and training. For the academic part it awards a degree under a university. Perhaps it will, in future, award such degrees under the maritime university. However, for progression of career, the trainees will have to perform mandatory period of sea-service, undertake Department of Shipping approved training and then obtain the competency certificate from DOS. This is something that we cannot change because the international convention, to which we are a party, requires so. It must be clearly understood that a person may obtain Doctorate/ Ph.D. in Navigation or maritime science but s/he still will not be eligible to work on a ship as a certificated officer unless issued with relevant certificate by DOS.

The university will remain as the highest seat of education and will essentially remain under ministry of education. We expect a maritime university to regulate and administer award of degrees by marine academy or other institutes in maritime studies. The maritime university itself shall conduct post graduation (M.Sc./ M.Phil./ Ph.D.) degrees diplomas in specific fields such as – Ship-building and Marine Engineering, Hydrography and Port development, Law of the Seas, Transport economics, Maritime law etc. etc.

I am very sure that the readers by now have clearly understood that the Government is trying to unite two different entities, one under ministry of shipping and the other under ministry of education. This is not practicable. No sooner the merger is accomplished, the leaders of Chatra League, Chatra Dal and Shibir will be there. The marine academy will be no more the marine academy. It will be gone for ever. Please do not do it. We need the marine academy to continue. It has created a history for itself. We shall not allow it to be destroyed.

Now let us look at the remaining part of the act. The Vice-chancellor, Pro-VC, Dean, Treasurer and Registrar shall all be appointed from the Navy. For quite some time I thought it was all about a Naval University. It was because of this reason that I had to read the title several times. If the Government had done even the minimum public consultation then they would not have proved themselves so stupid. I ask them to find out the manning of the World Maritime University, Dalian/ China Maritime University, Southampton University and Liverpool J M University; and they will realize how stupid or intelligent they are. In the UK there are several marine colleges such as the ones at South Shield, Glasgow and Black Pool; none of them employ any naval officer because they understand very well that merchant marine and navy are two different things. I have nothing against the navy. They are doing an excellent job in their own field. Yes, there are exceptional cases where a highly educated naval officer can be a Vice-chancellor but that cannot be the only option.

I am sorry to say that the present government has damaged our administration very badly, in fact beyond repair. They are destroying every institution. I request please for Heaven’s sake do not implement act number 47. Wait and revise it after due public consultation. It will be more difficult to reverse anything already done.

<fazlu.chowdhury@btinternet.com>

For actual copy of gazette, p[lease click the following link.

MARITIME UNIVERSITY ACT 47 OF 2013

12 Responses to BANGA BANDHU SHEIKH MUJIBUR RAHMAN MARITIME UNIVERSITY, BANGLADESH

  1. Why every institution of every kind be named after Hasina’s father. What kind of patriotism is this? Marine Academy MUST be named “BANGLADESH MARINE ACADEMY”. When we are going to come out of thus cult-culture, and human worshipping?

  2. The act is probably being biased by the navy to keep their hold shipping related jobs and educational institution which will provide maritime teaching. Why only the navy people need to be there to run the proposed Maritime University? Is it the weakness of the civil government that Navy is finding its way in every shipping related jobs in shipping ministry, port operations and so on? The example cited by Capt. FR Chowdhury on how other Maritime educational institutes are operated shows lack of knowledge & understanding of the act makers and those who worked behind the seen. It is a shame that Navy people still think that they can grab those important role in educational institute only because they are from Navy. This ACT surely demands review by real people who are in maritime profession and involved in maritime education & administration, not by the shallow water Navy.

  3. Very simple questions —
    1. How come Rear-Admiral or Commodore can be the criteria for being VC, Pro VC, Dean etc ! Is there any maritime university in the world having defence ranks as criteria for the similar posts !!

    2. How can the Marine Academy be under the Maritime university ! Marine Academy graduation certificates do come from the University like any other Academy but that does not take away the independence of the Academy for all practical & operational purposes !!

    3. Should the reqd. land be taken from Marine Academy existing premises, what will remain for the scenic beauty of the Academy which it always boasts of !

    4. This being the first of its kind in the country, why we can not check & compare the organograms, formats & the other administrative/teaching layouts, with all other existing Maritime Universities !

    5. All Maritime Universities having liason/recognition from the IMO – Will we qualify or be recognised by IMO, with this kind of Administrative/teaching structure !!

    6. Maritime education is beyond any boundary, it is global – will we be able to stand beside other universities or draw attention from students elsewhere !

  4. Dear Sir, I fully concur with your insight and plea for saving our Marine Academy. In my opinion we are to blame ourselves for such disaster. Some of the mariners were more interested in achieving their political goals and interests, in the end, I feel it backfired for whole community. Many of our iconic seniors incl. yourself, proudly represented Marine Academy to the outside world, many also ensured that all the cadets therein are well looked after until they find their initial jobs. The pioneers of Marine Academy administration tried best to diversify the services of Marine Academy so that not only the academy cadets are benefited, but also all mariners had opportunity to attend there for various pre / post sea courses.
    Now, during last few days, we have seen a rift in the opinion amongst fellow ex-Academy Cadets (from batch 1 to 48) on the issue of Alumni. I request all the ex-cadets and other Bangladeshi Mariners to unite irrespective of their affiliation to MA should unite together and sign petitions etc and make a single voice to the Government in this regard.

    Finally, Also many thanks for remembering the name of my beloved late father Captain M. L. Rahman in your article.

  5. Dear fellow Juldians,
    I endorsed the views expressed by friend Capt Fazlur Rahman Chowdhury. I would however like to add few things here that the Marine Academy is not a institute of learning but a training establishment that prepares young cadets to acquire skills to become officers on board ocean going vessels in pursuance of the STCW Convention and in due course obtain the certificates of competency to serve in senior positions on board ocean going vessels. It is needless to say that a ship is not considered as safe unless it has the requisite number of Duly certificated officers on board. This academy is therefore there to purely provide duly certificated manpower required by the maritime industry. Where as an university is place of learning and research. The two things therefore do not mix.
    Area wise we are a very small country but population wise we are the eighth most populous country of rhe world. The resources of this small land mass can not really support such a huge population.We have therefore have to look else where for our very survival. The logo of Marine academy bears an Ayat from the holy Quran ” Allahul lazi sakhrul lakumul Bahr” meaning that Allah has given the sea to be conquered.
    Therefore we have to take interest in the sea that constitute three quarter of the earth surface. It has eneogh resources and potential to support our excess man power to have decent living For this we must have the necessary knowledge of the sea and maritime affairs and acquire necessary knowledge on maritime matters and a specialised maritime university where diversified maritime knowledge and skills can be acquired.. There is no maritime expertise in the country and we do not really know anything about a maritime university therefore we should not rush on this University project without first studying and finding out how the World maritime university in Sweden, maritime university in China, United Kingdom and other countries of the world and learn from their experience how such an university operates as it is always much better and cheaper way of achieving success. So in order to have meaningful maritime university as it can not be like any other university in Bangladesh but it is a highly specialised and target oriented institution of reserch and learning. I therefore urge the juldians to take this matter up right in earnest with the government in order to have a meaningful maritime university.
    Best regards
    Salah al Deen Ahmad 18E1, . .

  6. Ghulam Suhrawardi

    Dear Zillur:

    Thank you for coming out in support of Captain Fazlur Rahman’s article. I fully agree, we should get united under one umbrella and fight this one out. This was what the founding members of JMAAA envisioned in 2005. Instead of bickering over a separate alumni association, we should be working shoulder to shoulder.

    Keep writing.

    Best regards
    Ghulam Suhrawardi (6th)

  7. Dear ex-cadets of this Academy,

    This is the time of getting united. Some of the vested corner is stabbing on our back, the runied public administration had given their concent knowingly or precisely what ever the case, the MA is at stake. This is not the time even to talk about the name of our alumni, this is the time to fight back combinely against this unjustified law 47 of 2013. Keeping all respect for our seniors, I also request all not to blame each other for this sad outcome of status of our MA.
    I salute respected F R Chowdhury sir for bringing up this topic to public attention. We have to use all our endeavours to regain lost status of the academy.

    Best regards.

    A KM Masud Karim(21st)

  8. Subject: Re: Save our Marine Academy
    Reply-To: FR CHOWDHURY

    Dear all,

    This is to inform you that the article has already been published in Weekly Holiday of Friday 22nd November, 2013. Log in http://www.weeklyholiday.net and look for it in the front page. Regards.

    Fazl

  9. On Friday, 22 November 2013 12:59 PM, khairul anam wrote:

    Dear All

    Please see email below for your information and perusal of the article. I think it is a thought provoking article and irrespective of our academy or non-academy backgrounds, we should all fight for the cause of our national marine academy in Bangladesh. Perhaps we could start with our professional bodies in Bangladesh writing to the PM level first. It is no point writing to the DG at this stage because he must have been a party to it.

    It is very clear in the Act that it has been created to cater for a particular group only and that goes against the basic human rights of other professionals in Bangladesh or Bangladesis in general.

    Kind regards

    Khairul

  10. Kazi Ashraf Haider

    On 22 Nov 2013, at 16:35, “Kazi Ashraf Haider” wrote:

    Dear Khairul Bhi,

    I am shocked to see the efforts made to rename our Juldia Marine Academy.

    Obiously we all should take up the subject to PM level.

    But how to do it, is a big question ?

    And how to convience her not to name it as …………………………….

    Hope someone of us will come up with some connection direct to PM, so that the subject can be brought to her knowledge.

    Remember that- on the other hand, some must have proposed to Shipping Ministry and then to PM to name it as such, by which ……………………………..

    It is for sure, you and all will try to find some way to keep our Academy’s same as it was.

    Best Regards.

    Engr. Kazi Ashraf Haider
    CEO, Industrial & Marine Technology

  11. Dear Ashraf

    Thank you for sharing our concerns with us. Yes, some quarters must have approached the shipping ministry through DG Shipping to get this approved but how did they do it so quietly? What was the Commandant doing?

    I think we can write directly to the PM now but nothing is likely to happen as the law has already been made. The only option left now may be through court of law to change an existing law, unless our lawmakers agree to make this change at the parliament.

    Best regards

    Khairul Anam

  12. Dear Sir,

    It is quite normal for some of us to adopt measures that may fulfil our personal goals with a huge price tag that will be paid by others. I wonder if we can find ways to get what we want and find ways to do so without costing others or creating chaos in the process.

    With a handful of prestigous institute in our poor country, Marine Academy had been standing tall by maintaining an international standard which would not ben possible without the decication of a lot of our dear departed [and living] leaders. I wonder what they would say or do if they were alive today. I remember my uncle [Khalu] Captain M L Rahman[who was the PO MMD in 1978] telling me when I went to meet him at his Bangalow near the stadium, You are one of the luckiest young man in this nation to be selected as a cadet. He has passed on but I shall always remember him and his kindness.

    Regards,
    The Ancient Mariner

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