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Poverty had once compelled him to quit school. But that did not stop him from being the governor of Bangladesh Bank.
Dr Atiur Rahman did not have a fairy-tale beginning, but a humble one. He crossed miles before taking on his new role as the central bank chief.
Born to a poor family in a remote village in Jamalpur district, Rahman was forced to quit school when he was in class III for the sorry state of his family. He had four other brothers and three sisters. He began to contribute to his large family at that age by shepherding cattle and doing other petty chores.
One good afternoon changed his life. His elder brother took him along to see a drama to be staged by schoolchildren. Rahman was moved by the performance and he longed to resume studies. The following day, his brother urged the school headmaster to allow Rahman to sit for the class IV final examinations. The teacher listened to him.
The boy stunned all with his performance. He came out first in his class within three months of resuming studies. He became the teacher's pet and topped the list in class V.
The years flew by and he got acceptance at the Cadet College to continue his education. But he had to pay Tk 50 in monthly fees to be able to study there. It was far beyond his family's capacity. Frustration gripped him, as he could not bear the expenses.
Schoolteachers came to his rescue. A teacher named Foyez Moulvi and two other teachers took Rahman to the nearest village market. They sought help for him by asking passers-by to give some money. They raised Tk 150 -- three months' fees for the bright boy.
Finally, Rahman got admitted to Mirzapur Cadet College. He paid Tk 150 in three months' fees and informed the principal that he would not be able to pay further. The principal considered his merit and granted him a 100 percent scholarship.
He never looked back.
Rahman came out fifth on the combined list of the Secondary School Certificate, under Dhaka Board. He continued with his graduation and master's in economics from Dhaka University.
Next, Rahman travelled to London on a Commonwealth scholarship to do a second master's and a PhD in economics from the University of London in 1977.
He was later appointed as professor to the Department of Development Studies at Dhaka University in July 2006.
He founded Unnayan Shamannay, a non-profit non-governmental research organisation, in 1994. He also served as a senior research fellow in the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies for about 30 years, until 2006.
Dr Rahman is well known for his pro-poor slogan. He has written 45 books, of which 16 are in English and 29 are in Bangla.