From Insight Desk
Tales of Triumph
Saba El Kabir
Bangladesh is a nation rife with social inequality and injustice. A big statement to make, but surely not one that would raise too many eyebrows. In fact, it is a statement that probably no longer needs, if it ever did, statistical justification or expert opinions; we can all relate to it on a much more personal level. We live around it, amongst it, through it, and let us not deny the possibility that some of us might even be responsible for it. Yet against this backdrop of systematic injustice and deep-seated inequality, we sometimes get remarkable tales of triumph from even the most downtrodden areas of society. And in these triumphs, the part that education plays is often crucial.
The role of education in promoting social equality and justice needs no reaffirmations. But sometimes, in our need to achieve a coherent understanding of the role education plays on the whole, the individual triumphs tend to get buried behind statistical generalizations. We wanted to go beyond the numbers, and explore the human angle of some of the individual success stories. We have recently talked to some of the recipients of the “Governor Scholarship”, and some of the stories we came across were truly remarkable.
One of the recipients told us a tale of triumph despite overwhelming odds. He spoke of his father, who was the only source of income for the family, being murdered while he was very young. His father had held a small position with a government institution, and with his limited income he had managed virtually no savings. His mother, who lacked formal education, was not able to bring the killers to justice, nor was she able to complete the process required to draw the money owed to his father from the government. But he did not give up hope and applied himself whole-heartedly to his studies. His precocious talent and determination was recognized early on, and he was able to study for free in this village school; his family received financial and moral support from their relatives and village residents. After completing his SSC, he was taken on by a college, who, recognizing his talent, not only wavered all tuition, but also offered pay for his expenses. From there, he secured admission in Dhaka University, by virtue of his talent and the recognition of that talent.
Another of the recipients told us about breaking from the norm - of going beyond what is expected or what is thought possible. He is from a family of 10 brother and sisters, none of whom has gone past primary school. He is the first in the family to have made it to university. He has had valuable support from his residents of his village who had themselves received higher education, and of course moral support and encouragement from his family. He has not had to rely on his family for financial support, but has been able to continue studies through endowments in recognition of his talent.
Access to education in the remote regions of Bangladesh is inevitably difficult. But that did not dissuade one of the recipients of the scholarship, who admitted himself into an orphanage, despite not being an orphan, for the education that was offered by the institution. There he excelled and was picked up by a college, all expenses paid. In person, his positivity is contagious, and he refuses to dwell on the hardships of his past, but chooses instead to focus on his ambitions for his future.
One aspect of one of the recipients stood out more than anything else, his obvious pride for his father's profession, agriculture. No one in his family has had formal education, yet that did not discourage him. He believes in the individual's ability to triumph over any adversity if one simply has the requisite determination. He believes poverty is not a handicap, but rather a challenge to be overcome.
These triumphs, seen in isolation, might seem inconsequential as these a just of few of the millions who are deprived of the basic opportunities of life. Yet they are a beacon of hope in that they represent that which is possible, of the ability of the individual to triumph over universal adversities, and the capacity of hope of the human spirit.
About the Governor Scholarship
In recent years, significant effort has been made by both the private and public sector to help our talented students rise above financial difficulties and achieve all that that their talents deserve. Through one such effort, 15 students from the Dhaka University Economics Department was endowed with the 'Governor Scholarship', a merit and need based award sponsored by Standard Chartered Bank in partnership with Dhaka University Economics Department Alumni Association (DUEDAA). This financial assistance, amounting to a total of about Tk 30,000 for each student yearly, will be provided to three students from each of the five academic sessions of the Department of Economics of Dhaka University. While this year, the scholarship was provided to students of the Dhaka University Economics Department only, in future the sponsor and partners hope to be able to expand the scope of this scholarship and assist meritorious students from other departments of Dhaka University, and universities all around Bangladesh. For those who have not received the award this year, contact the Department of Economics of Dhaka University for applying for the scholarship next year.
Recipients of the Governor Scholarship 2009
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