An acute shortage of teachers has been hampering academic and administrative activities at Khulna Medical College (KMC) for a long time, making life difficult for teachers and students alike.
Due to the crisis, theoretical and practical classes, tutorials and exams are not being taken on time, students alleged.
KMC started its academic journey with 50 students in 1992. At present, there are around 861 students (six batches) pursuing medical degrees at the institution.
Though the college is supposed to have 132 teachers under 32 departments, the number of available teachers is 76.
Against the required 23 professors, 35 associate professors, 43 assistant professors and 31 lecturers, KMC has four, 16, 30 and 26 respectively.
Some of the preliminary courses offered for students are anatomy and histology, physiology, biochemistry, community medicine, forensic medicine and toxicology, pathology, pharmacology & therapeutics and microbiology.
KMC is supposed to have 58 teachers to teach the abovementioned courses. But 20 of those posts are vacant. Moreover, none of the eight departments has any professors.
In addition, there is no associate professor in physiology, community medicine, forensic, pathology and microbiology departments.
Hepatology, pediatrics, nephrology, blood transfusion and physical medicine departments do not even have any teacher. At times, retired teachers take classes there.
An assistant professor and two lecturers are teaching at the forensic department. Of them, Assistant Professor Dr AKM Shofiuzzaman is going to retire soon.
“I teach at least eight classes a week and I have to prepare forensic report of any murder or unnatural death at KMCH,” said Dr Shofiuzzaman.
Due to the shortage, post-mortem activities of Khulna Medical College Hospital are also being hampered, according to hospital sources.
Shahanaz Pervin, assistant professor (acting) of microbiology department, said the department is running without a professor and assistant professor. “It's quite hard for us to manage the 40-odd students.”
Dr Manoar Hossain, assistant professor of the surgery department, said, “Not just our institution, the crisis is plaguing the entire nation… students are being deprived of quality education.”
“There is always shortage of teachers for the basic and preliminary courses since students are not choosing those as majors. Consequently, the country's not producing sufficient teachers of those subjects.”
Dr Manoar Hossain said many teachers are switching to in-demand subjects. “The government should look into the issue and offer better opportunities to teachers such as promotion or higher education,” he said.
Meanwhile, students are bearing the brunt of the shortage.
Titly Roy, a fourth-year student, said, “Not just regular classes, we are also missing out on practical classes.”
Echoing her, another student Robiul Hassan said, “Our future is at stake.”
Students urged the authorities concerned to solve the crisis immediately.
Contacted, Prof Dr Abdul Ahad, principal of KMC, said, “The college authorities have requested the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) and health ministry several times, seeking a solution to the problem,” he said.
“I became principal of the college around two years ago. Within the period, I have sent 14 letters to the directorate in this regard. I have also raised the issue in several meetings with the authorities concerned,” he added. “I also suggested reappointing retired teachers as a backup.”
“But we are yet to get any response,” he said. “It's getting difficult to run the institution properly.”
The director of Khulna Divisional Heath Directorate could not be reached for comments despite repeated attempts.