Winds of Change and some Change Makers
Star Campus Desk
Historically speaking, the youth of Bangladesh have always played strong role in the socio-economic transformation of the country. Whether it was the active participation of students in the war of Liberation in 1971 or the voluntary initiatives taken by students during the flood of 1988, the student community has always been present every time Bangladesh needed them. Since university is the pinnacle of a student's life, through proper education that stretches beyond the course curriculum, universities can further groom the youth of the country. In this regard, teachers can play a pivotal role.
A teacher is more than just an educator. With right initiative, sincere intent and a desire to promote positive change in the country, a teacher can be a true nation builder. Teachers can use themselves as leverage points to organize events and/or activities that further hone the talent of the students. In recent times, a number of extra-curricular activities have been held in various educational institutions. Whether its an inter-university debate competition or a science fair, these activities have created a platform for talented young minds to convene together under one roof. Many of these activities have been possible because of the initiatives and the guidance of certain faculties who have not only fulfilled their assigned position with sincerity and diligence, but have gone beyond the assigned responsibility to take steps that truly made a difference for their students. The initiatives undertaken by these teachers have showed a new direction to their students and created mechanisms through which the student community and the nation have been benefited.
This week Star Campus will feature some in-campus activities that caught our attention in recent past and the story of the faculties behind them. A few factors were considered before making the selections: Initiatives taken by the faculty to develop the student community in his/her institution, their initiatives beyond their own campus which have benefited the student community at large, and activities that have made a positive contribution to the country. This article is of course not inclusive of all deserving events/activities and/or faculties. By telling the stories of the selected few in this issue, we would like to promote the causes that they have stood for and inspire others to follow their footsteps.
Promoting Science and Technology among Bangladeshi youth
Muhammad Zafar Iqbal is a legend, a pioneer and a role model. As a science-fiction writer and later as the Head of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering of Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST), Muhammad Zafar Iqbal has single handedly promoted science and technology among Bangladeshi youth.
A student of the Department of Physics in Dhaka University, Muhammad Zafar Iqbal went to University of Washington in the USA to obtain his Ph. D in 1976. He later joined Bell Communications Research (Bellcore) as a Research Scientist where he worked till 1994. Upon returning to Bangladesh Muhammad Zafar Iqbal joined as a professor and the Head of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at SUST.
As a novelist, Muhammad Zafar Iqbal has not only motivated the youngsters to be more curious about science, but his literally works, many of which includes adventure novels for the youth, have managed to invoke a sense of patriotism among children and grown ups alike.
Despite facing adversity both within and outside the university, Muhammad Zafar Iqbal has been successful at establishing the Shahjalal University of Science and Technology in Sylhet as one of the finest computer science institutes in the country. Together with Mohammad Kaykobad, Muhammad Zafar Iqbal has initiated the Mathematics Festival in Bangladesh, which eventually led to Bangladesh participating in the International Mathematics Olympiad for the first time in 2005.
Muhammad Zafar Iqbal is also the Chief Advisorof a cultural club named "SHIKORH" which is the first and most popular student organization in SUST. Under his guidance, "SHIKORH" operates four departments: Music, Drama Art and Literature. One of the most active clubs in SUST, the motto "SHIKORH" is to promote Bengali Culture in the university. Whether through his novels or through his work at SUST, the initiatives taken by Muhammad Zafar Iqbal since his return to Bangladesh have broadened the mind of the local youth and has created a platform for the upcoming scientists and engineers of the nation.
Showcasing the Mathematical Talents of Bangladesh in International Arena
Prominence is earned through a sincere dedication on a focused goal. Prof. Jamilur Reza Chowdhury's goal was to become an Engineer, and 50 years later he not only mastered that role but has also gained a stream of respect for his contribution for the academia, governance and the society in general - a deal far more credited than he had bargained for.
|One of the Campaign Posters used during the Voter Awareness Campaign of Election 2008
After graduating from college he got admitted in BUET and joined there as a teacher in 1960 later going to England for higher education with a scholarship from the oil company Burma Shell. With a PhD in 1968 followed by an array of attractive offers in America and Australia he turned his back to everything and rejoined BUET as a Lecturer.
From a Consultant to a Chairman of Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon to a Vice Chancellor of BRAC University, Prof. Jamilur Reza Chowdhury stands out even higher for his significant contribution from design to site selection and everything else that was involved in making the Jamuna Bridge.
However it is as the President of Bangladesh Math Olympiad Committee, a club aiming to popularize mathematics, that he has assisted youngsters from Bangladesh to win a medal for the first time in the International Math Olympiad (IMO) in Bremen last year. This has marked Bangladesh as a country that is not at all behind in terms of its scientific and mathematic progression. In fact, the long term plan suggested by JRC is to win the Phills Medal, the highest award in Math, by 2020 with the target of winning a Nobel Prize in science by 2030.
His role as the Vice Chancellor of BRAC University has been highly reputed. Aside from guiding this campus to grow from a mere few hundred in 2001 to currently a few thousand students, Prof. Chowdhury has made immense contribution particularly to the Architecture department. He helped the department organize various exhibitions as well as design architecture for kids programs. This University now ranks amongst the top private university in Bangladesh despite being around for only a few years.
His brilliance is then not only shown through infrastructures alone but also through the thousands of students who have studied under him and have been motivated enough to look beyond academic excellence. Prof. Jamilur Reza Chowdhury has been able to show the power of one and his ability to move a generation of others to succeed not only in Bangladesh but everywhere else around the world.
Advocating Leadership in Bangladeshi Youth
A Professor at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), University of Dhaka, Syed Munir Khasru did his MBA from the Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania, US. He is not only a Professor at IBA; he is an entrepreneur, he is involved in the media, a columnist in newspapers, and a participant in policy dialogues and initiatives. He is an expert in communication strategy and designed the much-acclaimed “Voter Awareness Campaign” for the last Parliamentary Elections. He is a columnist in the Daily Star and Prothom Alo. A former Debater and Public Speaker, in his student days, he represented Bangladesh at international debating championships in US, Canada, and Australia
Since becoming Moderator of IBA Communication Club (IBACC) three years ago, Professor Munir has fundamentally transformed the extracurricular activities of IBA and has set new benchmarks for inter-university competitions. Students of IBA have organized competitions of high professional standards. For example, BrandWitz the flagship branding competition for the Business School graduates is his brainchild and now a regular event jointly organized by IBA and Unilever. Under has leadership, IBACC has become one of the most active student bodies and have won majority of the inter business school competitions. IBA's performance in international competitions also has been commendable.
As an Adviser to the University Grant Commission (UGC), Professor Khasru has streamlined the quality of participation of Bangladeshi universities in international debating competitions. The process of representation of Bangladesh in the World Debate Council has been made transparent and freed from irregularities that at times had earlier tarnished image of the country to the community of international students.
Professor Munir also is a successful entrepreneur. Under his leadership, e-Gen Consultants Ltd. has become one of the very few Bangladeshi consulting firms with international projects in countries like India, Pakistan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Mongolia, and Nigeria. It is a consulting firm mostly run by the bright young graduates of the leading business schools of the country as opposed to senior bureaucrats and academics, which used to be the norms. He has taken management lessons beyond the classroom by empowering the talented youth of Bangladesh. Recently, he has launched a policy research outfit the Institute for Policy, Advocacy, and Governance (I-PAG). During the last meeting of the Bangladesh Development Forum in February 15-16, 2010, Professor Munir arranged a session for the Bangladeshi youth whereby they shared their aspirations for the future with development partners of Bangladesh.
Initiatives undertaken by Professor Munir have played a strong role in promoting positive changes in the youth of our country. His actions have promoted leadership and inspired patriotism in the young minds.
The youth of Bangladesh holds the key to the socio-economic freedom of the country. The respected teachers of whom we talked about in this issue are among the prominent few who took selfless steps to develop the student community. Their initiatives have groomed the young minds and provided a platform for them to speak up and showcase their talents. Their initiatives have indeed been the Winds of Change.
Shikha: an elegy
Abu Saleh Md Rafi
When Shikha was posting her last message on Facebook about her going home, she did not know that she was telling a truth 'truer' than she thought. On her way to Comilla, Saima Siddiqua Shikha, an MA student (Batch 32) of the Department of English, Jahangirnagar University met her end in a fatal road accident on 26 March 2010. The department observed a day of condolence on 03 April 2010. At around 10.00, a large number of students attended the silent procession of mourning that toured round the campus and ended at the Dhaka-Aricha highway to form a wave of Human Chain along the road demanding security of human lives on road. Students were overwhelmed when eminent singer Fahmida Nabi on her way to Pabna stopped at the Dairy Gate, JU and shared hands in the Chain. At 11.00, the Chair planted a sapling in front of the New Arts Faculty in memory of Shikha. The reminiscence session entitled “Shikha: an elegy” started at 11.30 am in which students of different batches remembered Shikha, the sweet and sad memories relating to her, and her activities: she created the department's account at Facebook. Among the teachers, Mr Raihan Sharif and Dr Shamsad Mortuza spoke. While Mr Mortuza read out a poem of his own based on the fond memory of Shikha, the Chair, Mashrur Shahid Hossain dedicated his song “What it takes to say 'goodbye'” to the memory of Shikha. We mourn! We pray! And we let the 'shikha' (light) stay!
(The writer is a student of Dept of English, JU)