Volume 2 Issue 27 | February 16 , 2008 |


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Journey through Bangladesh

From Tangail
Tangail's Harijan community gets its first graduate in 200 years

The Harijans are sweepers by profession in Tangail. This community has gotten its first graduate in the 200 year history of the district.

Ujjal Kumar Das, 20, son of Rajen Chandra Das received his degree from a local college. Ujjal's father Rajen Chandra Das, a sweeper at Tangail's Telephone and Telegraph Department talked about this to The Daily Star. He claimed that his ancestors had been living at Tangail Harijan Palli since 1800.

They came to Tangail from a lot of different places, such as Elahabad, Manjhanpur, Bhegbatpur, Garabu and Gandapar in India, he said.

"No one from our community has had the privilege of obtaining a higher education in a very long time. Only Ujjal has rightfully earned his BA (Bachelor of Arts) degree on behalf of the community," he added. According to NGO sources, about 5000 Harijan people live in 11 upazilas in the district but they are seriously deprived of their rights.

Most people simply neglect the existence of Harijans. There is much resistance in society to the idea that Harijans can actually get educated and move higher up. The Society for Social Service (SSS), an NGO, is running a school called Ideal Primary School with 200 children of local Harijans at the Sweeper Colony at Shantikunja Intersection in Tangail town.

Abdul Latif, deputy director of SSS, told The Daily Star that Harijan children are not allowed in all educational institutions and the government is yet to take initiative to allow these children in all schools to ensure their basic rights.

"We have helped a total of 80 Harijan children, who passed their primary level from the Ideal Primary School and gotten admitted to the secondary level at Bindubasini Government Boys' High School in the town," he added. In the meantime, Ujjal Harijan has proven himself to be the exception to the rule has overcome these seemingly impossible social barriers.

Ujjal's uncle Biswanath Harijan had obtained his SSC and was the first person to do so in the community. Inspired by this, Ujjal's elder brother Ananda Harijan also completed his SSC.

Getting inspiration and help from both of them, Ujjal began his studies at Darul Ulum Government Primary School in Tangail. He passed his BA from the town's best school, the Major General Mahmudul Hassan College. Earlier he had passed his HSC from the same college and his SSC from Shibnath Boys' High School in the town. Graduate Ujjal Harijan said that his journey was tough as his classmates and teachers often neglected him.

Ujjal also said that he has already gotten admission to the Government Saadat College in Karatia as a student of MA at the Political Science Department. "I want to do something for my neglected community in the future and want blessings of all for it," he added.

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