Jannatun Nahar, a student at Dhaka University filed an RTI application to the Director (in charge), Public Relations Office, Dhaka University who is also the university’s Designated Officer under the RTI Act. She requested for information on the teacher recruitment policy of Dhaka University and procedure that is being followed for the recruitment. Her experience, however, was not very pleasant.
• Why do you need the information?
• What are you going to do with it?
• Why application? You can ask and get the information from the office.
The annoyed officer asked lots of questions to discourage her. But an adamant Jannatun formally submitted the RTI application and waited for a reply.
But all in vain. Even after more than a month she did not get any response from the authority, whereas the RTI Act directs the authority to provide information or explain why information would not be disclosed within 20 working days of applying.
Jannatun would not give up. She submitted an appeal to the Vice Chancellor who is also the appellate authority. And ultimately, she got the information she requested for.
Sanjida Maliha, another DU student had similar experience. Sumaiya Arefin, Shamima Ahmed, Faria Abdullah and some other young girls requested for information from different authorities applying the RTI Act.
This enthusiasm of the girls that surprised the university and other authorities resulted from a bootcamp on RTI organized by MRDI involving 42 female students of different universities of the country. The three-day camp facilitated discussions and interactions on the power of information, how it can change life, how to claim information as a right – not as a favour.
Apart from participating in serious discussions, the girls took part in musical performances, training on theatre, informal gossiping and a barbecue which created an entertaining learning environment for them.
The enthusiastic and happy looking girls left the camp with a work plan that included not only a list of RTI applications they will file, but also steps they can take to spread the words on the benefits of RTI.