Personal essay: Dreaming of a Doctorate

I am a doctor—that is something I have wanted to say since I was diagnosed with cancer as a kid.

My name is Raphaël Nahar Rivière and I trained as a medical student at the University of Ottawa. I will be starting at the University of Toronto this coming fall, as a resident physician in Anesthesiology. My path to medicine started when I was young. Shortly after we arrived in Canada from Bangladesh, I had recurring bone pains and fevers. After a referral to SickKids, my mom took me to see a rheumatologist, who gave us the devastating news: I had Ewing’s Sarcoma. After that, the chemotherapy, bone transplant and everything else changed my life as a seven year-old boy.


Dr. Raphaël Rivière (MD2019)


My cancer diagnosis was particularly hard on my family. Over the years we became estranged from our father as he failed to cope with the realities of having a sick child in a foreign country. Eventually, he left. My mom was made of tougher stuff. She became a full time caregiver and later worked exhausting retail jobs. This was a starkly different reality from what she had envisaged as an aspiring Anthropology professor back in Bangladesh. Despite these trials and tribulations of being a single mother, her indefatigable optimism inspired me to push myself.

I studied hard and went on to earn the TD scholarship, which helped me through my studies during my bachelor’s at Trinity College, University of Toronto. Following my bachelor’s I was accepted to the University of Ottawa for medical school in the French stream. This was my ideal choice because I had become somewhat of a Francophile during an internship in France and wanted desperately to maintain my proficiency while pursuing a career in medicine. These skills would ultimately open doors for me to go on a medical mission to Bénin, a francophone country in West Africa. In Bénin, our team of Canadian physicians, residents, medical students, nurses and pharmacists served over 1000 patients at an impoverished rural village. During that time, I resuscitated my first neonate born to an eclamptic mother, and had the honour of naming another newborn, on whose mother I performed a spinal. These experiences were transformative and inspired me to ultimately choose Anesthesiology for my future—a specialty which affords unique, life saving skills to its students.

I can still remember playing Pokémon Stadium in my bed on the 8th floor at SickKids Hospital, as if it were yesterday. This journey to become a doctor has been so long, and at many times challenging. I am like any other student. I grumble, cry and laugh about how much there is to learn and wonder if I will ever be good enough to give my patients the best care they could possibly get. However, my experiences have taught me that life is a precious opportunity and that it should not be forsaken. I am so very grateful to my friends, family, mentors and most certainly, all the doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and medical personnel without whom I would not be able to serve as a physician today.

This year my mom plans to finish her PhD at U of T–something she always dreamed of completing before I got sick. I guess it’s somewhat of a coincidence that I’ll be getting my doctorate too, and we will be graduating together.


Links :
CBC, Canada

Once a child cancer patient, now Dr. Rivière

Raphaël Nahar Rivière became fascinated with medical professionals who treated him

Raphaël Nahar Rivière graduated from the University of Ottawa’s medical school on May 17. He was inspired to study medicine after surviving childhood cancer. (Kanita Khaled)

Raphaël Nahar Rivière was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a form of bone and skin cancer, at age seven. He endured an 18-hour bone transplant surgery and rounds of chemotherapy, treatment that lasted months.

It was a dark time for the little boy and his family, but there were also bright spots during his time at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. Rivière remembers play rooms, clowns, colouring books and visiting dogs.

“At home we didn’t have any video games, but at the hospital there was a Nintendo and I loved playing Pokemon Stadium,” Rivière told host Robyn Bresnahan on CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning.

Raphaël Nahar Rivière poses with his mother, Pamelia Nahar Khaled, moments after graduating. (Leslie Newell)

Kept up his studies

Rivière kept up with his schoolwork while in hospital, and his oncologist and surgeon encouraged him to keep studying.

He took their advice, motivated to learn more about his disease in particular, and medicine in general, so that he could help others the way he’d been helped as a child.

“This happened to me, but I got out of it relatively unscathed. That’s why I need to …follow this through a career.”

Rivière’s family immigrated to Canada from Bangladesh, seeking a better life for Raphaël and his sister, Kanita, and eventually settling in Toronto.

He was diagnosed three months later.

His father left the family after struggling to adapt to life in Canada while coping with the stress of having a sick child.

‘It was very special’

Rivière said his mother supported the family working a retail job, and never let her son’s illness become his focus. “You’re sick. that’s fine. But you’re going to study,” he recalls her telling him.

She returned to school after Rivière had been cancer-free for 10 years, and is currently working on her PhD at the University of Toronto.

When he crossed the stage at the University of Ottawa to receive his medical degree on May 17, Rivière said he was thinking about how it wasn’t an accomplishment he could have obtained on his own.

When he embraced his mother afterward she told him, “So proud of you. You did it! Congratulations, Dr. Rivière.”

“It was very special,” he said.

With files from CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning


Links :
CBC, Canada

Conflict Resolution Effort in Bangladesh through Peace Education



Here I briefly discuss the conflict resolution efforts taken in Bangladesh so far. However, the attempt was taken by the Bangladesh government at the national level, not in the school curriculum. In 2006 to reduce violence in the country the then government of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) took initiatives to crack down terrorist groups and banned four terrorist organizations. In March 2007 the military-backed technocratic regime started employing a strong Counter-Terrorism (CT) strategy. From 2009 to 2014 the Bangladesh Awami League (BAL) government took several attempts to stop violence and banned an Islamist organization (Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami) and blacklisted a few suspected organizations (JMB, Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami Bangladesh-HuJI-B, Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh-JMJB, Shahadat-e-al-Hikma).

However, the Bangladeshi militant groups remained active and continued to reorganize with new names and disguises. There is evidence that a few Bangladeshi militant groups reportedly have connections with Pakistan-based militant organizations and have been implicated in the acts of terrorism in India. Alleged Pakistani militants and members of Al Qaeda’s branch in the Indian subcontinent (AQIS) have been arrested in Bangladesh. The gains in Counter Terrorism effort achieved since 2006 started to slide in 2013, as the country’s political situation became more unstable.

Different political literature and International Crisis studies indicate the government maintains ‘zero tolerance’ policy towards terrorism, but critiques question the validity of such claims and demand evidence for the progress as they argue that it is the government’s ploy to use militancy against the opposition. Regrettably, to say, the government’s approach in handling the oppositions confirms this allegation. Thus, terrorism is inherent in the political realm of Bangladesh which is supported someway by the government.

Unfortunately, Religiously inspired violence: killing people who are from different gender spectrum (not straight), non-believers, science bloggers, science educators, and science believers and militancy emerged in the country only in the mid-1990s and there was a dramatic rise of political violence in 2004 and 2005. Extremism and political violence are rippling across Bangladesh currently. It is alarming that the Holey Artisan Bakery killing on the 1st July 2016 involved rural madrasa students and elite urban young students. Bangladeshi citizens are furthermore concerned about the meager attempt on violence and counter-terrorism in Bangladesh recently.

The above brief discussion confirms a lack of political will among leaders of the political parties of the country. Counter Terrorism (CT) would be successful only when the current government and opposition have a concerted political will to ensure the sustainability of peace in the country. Otherwise, counter-attack, oppression, and coercion of the opposition will increase terrorism and violence in the country. The counter-terrorism should be a combination of strategies of social, educational (curriculum), economic and political effort.

There is evidence that some countries are working on peace such as the Philippines which has included peace education in the public schools and Israel which has arranged peace rally to reduce violence against the Palestinians. The study of Save the Children, (2010) indicates that the national peace education in Afghanistan and Pakistan show that UN agencies, International Non-Governmental Organization (INGO)s and donors are promoting peace education using many different ways. Peace educators are concerned about interstate and intrastate violence and conflicts that are caused by identity issues related to religion, for example in Northern Ireland and Sri Lanka. The peace education model was successful in Nepal in both the formal and informal education systems as it was a systemic and a collaborative effort of INGOs, NGOs and the UN agencies. Bangladesh has not been able to integrate Education for Peace into its planning processes yet, it might want to look carefully at the suggestions for a holistic peace education planning of UNESCO, 2015 and follow rights‐based approach to promoting education for peace and conflict resolution. Bangladesh must consider those approach to integrate into primary and secondary curricula to bring back peace in the society.

On one hand, conventional approaches to citizenship education, overemphasis on war hero, glorified past, dominant ethnic identity, national identity, and nationalism present a key challenge to prospects for realizing education for peace; for example, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and China. Patriotic nationalist ideas are used for nationalism and identity but it generates a militaristic voice in textbooks and aggressiveness among the youngsters. Thus, I suggest rethinking the fundamental priorities of education policy. And create a platform to bring together the idea of scholars (like Tagore and Gandhi’s peace education concept) in child-centered education and designing curriculum in core subjects at primary and secondary levels. And teachers should be the partners in curriculum design than simply the expert in pedagogy delivery. Furthermore, I suggest for curriculum development, teacher training and the improvement of teaching materials rather than focusing on monitoring outputs only.


The writer is an anthropologist and environmentalist. She is pursuing her Ph.D. research on peace and conflict resolution at Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto, Canada. [email protected].

Japan confers ‘Order of the Rising Sun’ on Jamilur Reza Choudhury

Dear All:

Today I  woke up with a good news our loving Professor Jamilur Reza Choudhury is honoured by Japan. Japan Offered, ‘Order of the Rising Sun’ on him. I am  so proud of our National Professor. I find hope and see light in the tunnel whenever I see him.

Jamilur Reza Choudhury Sir, you are the light, the Seven Star for the nation.

Thank you Sir for make us/ all Bangladeshis honoured and proud with your innovations and noble work.

Kind regards,



Japan confers ‘Order of the Rising Sun’ on Jamilur Reza Choudhury

National Professor Dr Jamilur Reza Chowdhury (File photo)

DHAKA: Japan has honored National Professor Dr Jamilur Reza Chowdhury with ‘The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon’, one of the most prestigious Japanese decorations.

Besides, Mrs Ritsuko Abedin, former employee at the Embassy of Japan in Bangladesh, received “the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Silver Rays”.

Japanese embassy in Dhaka published a notice on their website regarding it Sunday (Nov 4)

The conferral is in recognition of his great contribution to smooth implementation of Japan’s ODA and promotion of friendly relations and mutual understanding between Japan and Bangladesh for more than 30 years, it said.

University of Asia Pacific (UAP) Vice Chancellor Dr Jamilur Reza Choudhury has supported many Japanese development projects from civil engineering point of view, such as “Jamuna Multipurpose Bridge Project”, “Chittagong Airport Development Project”, and “Dhaka Mass Rapid Transit Development Project”. He has introduced Japanese technology and made the difficult engineering works possible in these projects.

In 2013, he received “JICA Recognition Award.” Moreover, he has promoted academic exchange between Japan and Bangladesh and provided the opportunity to study in Japan for Bangladeshi students.

Mrs Ritsuko Abedin received the honor for her longstanding and dedicated contribution to the Embassy since November 1972 until her retirement in June 1998. She played the important role at the Embassy as Bengali speaker.

As one of Japanese people who have lived in Bangladesh since before the independence, she has introduced her experience and the history of Bangladesh in the last 50 years to many Japanese people, added the statement.

NOV 4, 2018

A happy edn model to plug question leaks


Question leaks at the every level of Bangladesh’s education system have panicked the students, parents and the civil society. What is happening actually? How can it be stopped? Why does it need to be stopped? Is it a lack of planning in Bangladesh’s education system or simply an administrative issue involving the current education board and the ministry of education?  Is there a need for a temporary and technical solution only or a practical and effective sustainable solution?

We should not go for identifying a number of reasons for question leaks only, by saying that in Bangladesh education has become a commodity, education is business, curriculum is politics, parents are not giving enough time to children, the government’s budget for education is so low, inadequate resources are causing difficulties, teachers are underpaid, corruption is high at each level among the teachers,  parents (students and teachers both are buying the leaked questions from the corrupt business associates and education officials ), coaching/learning centre business associates, people who are working with the education board and the ministry, education is completely exam-oriented, teachers are under pressure to prepare the students for an excellent outcome etc.

The critical question is: in which century and in which country was not education used a ladder? And which world-the first, middle, developed, third world countries-did not use education as a commodity to help students manage managerial jobs and reach the upper rung of society.

Looking at the past 50-70 years of Bangladesh and East Pakistan education system, could we generalise that all parents were engaged fully to impart their children education, stood beside their children along with enough support in the forms of time and money?

Is that meaningful to blame our Bangladeshi parents and society that they lost their imagination? They have an obscure understanding regarding the luminous view of having knowledge through education and life experience and they overlook the aim of education.

Could we recognise our Bangladeshi parents and education board and national curriculum policy are only focused to secure managerial jobs for the younger generation, not promoting good citizenship?

Answers would be multiple and necessarily they are not positive.

If we look at the past there is no evidence that teachers were not underpaid. Isn’t it that Indian education system was based on Guru System that was darshan (Philosophy) and self/soul development-based, where paying teachers some rice, lentils and veg were enough? And students would do anything the Guru asked for. Then teachers started fighting to secure teaching as a profession like others: doctors, engineers and lawyers. It is only since 1960s teachers have been demonstrating for equal status in profession and struggling for a raise, as over the period of past few decades their life and living cost have not remained same.

When it comes to corruption, what are those periods when the graft level was low in the country? Even during the East Pakistan period the entire wealth was shared by the few elite families only. And currently the number of wealthy people has increased as the number of Bangladesh’s population has also increased; on the other hand, at the same rate the poor have become poorer.

There is another allegation that the education system is only exam-oriented, not for enlightenment. These days values and morals are down. What is partially true is there are other social factors linked.

The fact is students are overwhelmed by studying thick and complex texts and they are unhappy. They are not studying for finding happiness or being creative or innovative, they are fighting for scores, becoming reckless and sick of note memorisation. And they are lacking in sleep and pleasure of reading; thus, the real essence of education is gone.

The other factors, the addition of two public exams to the school system such as class V and class VIII, are also entailing the question leaks at the beginning of a child’s life. Are these exams are really required and what is the main purpose of those two extra exams?

The VIII exam seems truly redundant. Yes, for Grade V having a general exam in the classroom, in their own school compound not following a standardised board test papers is enough and that could be a turning point to check how many students are failing or dropping out from the system. So, information of those students (as dropout rate is very high in grades four to five largely in rural and semi urban areas) can be recorded.

Board provision must allow them to continue school until the grade 12 and arrange special support to bring them back to study so that they can graduate on time. Yes, this is a daunting task for a poor country like Bangladesh. It may be a lengthy process, but it is not a rocket science that cannot be set up by the education administration of Bangladesh with the support of stakeholders.

Closing all coaching/learning centre business could be a good decision. As the government prohibited running those institutions, all those coaching centres are still running their business changing their name to so-called ‘learning centres’ currently. The government has this information but did not take any action against them. There are evidences as I visited them personally. It is not that there was no tuition system earlier, or no house tutor system in the country. Tuition had been present all over the past decades even before the independence but it was not in the form it is now in Bangladesh, which is scary. School administration will arrange for special classes for weaker students if they are concerned.

The concern is: In the past decades the tuition/coaching centres emerged like mushrooms even though there were good teachers and good students in each school and college.

So blaming teachers alone for leaking questions is a big mistake. Evidence shows there are plenty of good teachers, trained teachers and good administrators in the schools.

Then, where is the crack?

From where is freezing rain


How can we shield them?

Bangladesh needs to re-design the education system that will help set up a unique classroom followed by an interactive curriculum where students will have enough time to engage with multiple intelligences, social subjects, including practising science and maths using natural resources (not necessarily they require a modern lab). Implications of those components for classroom teaching can change students’ purpose of education significantly and make students creative. High school students must be engaged in doing community work for social change and developing leadership skills allocating their significant time (in short and long summer vacation largely) such as 40 hours for mandatory voluntary work per year, it may be paid or unpaid volunteering job for their self/soul development. So education can be participatory and be focussed on social change and community development.

In fact, the service delivery and social development are unstable in the country. We could consider the progress of the country from a different development perspective or outcome (gender, equality, diversity, health, education, good governance, etc.). But in Bangladesh’s case, violence and political instability fundamentally changed the nature of the problems.

We can address some questions of fundamental importance to change the current system. The government and education stakeholders can bring back discipline and peace in Bangladesh’s education system for its quick recovery. They are the issues that could be taken into a careful consideration. They are: Aspects of effective public service delivery in the fragile education context, o Political participation in curriculum, oEffects of electoral problems in education, oImpact of violent politics on education, oCorruption at the upper level, o Effective regulatory framework and monitoring situation.

Of course, there is corruption in the education department and a large number of them are involved with coaching centres. This tuition business community are sucking millions from the parents of students from rich, middle and poor families. The current system is board exam-focused, so everyone needs to pass the board exam and also achieve highest marks to get admission to a good school for further study.

The right solution is: we need to make an attempt at stopping the colonial SSC and HSC board exam system immediately following the Western education system, as those are experimented. In North American system students have the opportunity to face exam on the particular subject they failed at least twice in summer school (if they can’t achieve pass mark in any paper). If this can be done, we can assume that all coaching/learning centres will not be closed overnight but they will not find any other ways to survive. Thus parents’ money will be saved, students will get relieved of the panic of board exams and their mind will be free. There will be no issue of question leaks.

To avoid note memorisation and question leaks, Bangladesh’s education system needs to remove all sorts of board exams till the grade 12. Over and above, the country needs to build a happy education model.  The removal of all board exams and engaging students in multiple languages, social subjects, community work for live experience and math and science experiments using methods of nature (going to the field/nature and science trips) will have a dramatic effect on Bangladesh’s education system. It is school teachers who are trained to write questions, they will be responsible for preparing question papers and educate their children following the national curriculum, not the board or its associates who prepare the question papers now. Thus, Bangladeshi students will be nurtured under a healthy, creative and natural education system, an interactive, participatory and happy education model that will nurture a student to groom a “whole child.”

Bangladesh may need to think of the “social order without the state”, as it has become important here. Rivalry among the ethnic groups and political gangs and violence should be addressed so that Bangladeshi people can compete peacefully without resorting to violence. This can be materialised doing the things as follows: being mindful to improve norms and values at home, cooperation among the education stakeholders, providing care and taking support of other informal institutions, in-group policing, following methods and practices of communication, ensuring systems and vigilance, applying rules of formal dispute resolution etc.

VAB Canada arranged a showcase event at Fire on Ice, Uttara Dhaka, Bangladesh

VAB Canada arranged a showcase event at Fire on Ice, Uttara Dhaka, Bangladesh on 2nd February 2018. A number of patrons and volunteers were present in the event. VAB Canada receives compliments from the VAB Country director and patrons as well:

Dear Pamelia Khaled, I run short of words in appreciation of what you achieved in the dinner evening. It’s truly beyond comprehension how you could master the attendance of all your friends – 60 to 70 from educationists to business leaders, bureaucrats and armed forces. And you had been away till almost the day before! I hope to write a short description of the event with some pictures. I am struggling to find the right words of appreciation.
Best wishes,
Dr. Jasimuz Zaman
Country Director
Former Professor of Chemical Engineering, BUET
VAB Works for Humanity – Brightening the Life of the Rural Children of Bangladesh through Quality Education

Exorcising the ghost of question leaks

Pamelia Khaled

Curriculum theorist Aoki’s planned curriculum reminds us of Leonard Cohen’s (1992) song, The Anthem: There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light comes in. The meaning of pedagogy is stranded in the relational and intentional responsibility of teachers to students. Pedagogical love cannot be received or perceived through any prescribed curricula or in an empty classroom environment, in which the sense of love and emotion for the students is totally absent and relegated.

The curricula teachers teach are linked with the understanding of self: who actually they are and their realisation of ecology in the classroom. The first thought is: teachers need to realise why they need to deliver a transactional pedagogy. And do they acknowledge that transactional pedagogy can develop peace and cordial relations similar to love. The second thought is how a pedagogy can make the difference that involves a teacher’s self and students’ transformation. The self-actualisation process aims to help teachers identify where they stand in terms of these three pedagogies (transition, transaction and transformation) and how they can move towards the transformation finally.

At the field level, I’m having frustrating information from various areas regarding Bangladesh’s education system. Three education specialists of Bangladesh Professor Sirajul Islam Chowdhury, Professor Siddikur Rahman and Syed Manjurul Islam have revealed that “there is a crack in everything”. The three specialists have said that Bangladesh’s education sector is in trouble for leaked questions before exam, the pressure of exam and the approach of the ministry of education. This year a local daily ran stories on question leaks that occurred in different exams throughout the year. It said that the questions for the Junior School Certificate (JSC) and Junior Dakhil Certificate (JDC) examinations, which began countrywide on November 1, were available on several social media sites such as Facebook and Whatsapp before the examination. Primary education completion exam, Secondary School Certificate (SSC), Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) and even university admission questions are leaked. Students are engaged in obtaining questions at a cheaper price. They are less interested in studying textbooks. Even good students also argue that it is important to obtain questions before any exam, as they are afraid that weaker students will secure good marks and they will fall behind.

Teachers are also concerned that the education system is more focused on texts and exams, so students are in a competition about how everyone can get GPA 5. The teachers and intellectuals of Bangladesh also think that the entire education system focuses on exam, not learning. They assert that there is no need of board exam at the primary level, at least up to the grade five. I also think a trained primary class teacher is enough to prepare two report cards for students yearly. From report cards the board will know where students need more support to improve. Primary education completion exam for the grade 5 can be taken only to keep the record for the ministry of education to know where the primary students face challenges and which school needs teachers’ skill development and where contents need to be reviewed and how primary curriculum can be improved.

The biggest stress on students is parental pressure: children are bewildered by the meritocratic system and exam pressure. And parents are in a race to hire five to eight teachers for coaching their children after school. Teachers, counselors and psychiatrists are unable to make some parents understand that students are coming under mental pressure because of this attitude. Parents must be engaged in friendly discussion with their children and solve the problems during the parents’ meeting with teachers.

Bangladesh’s competitive society prompts parents to choose careers for their children that are in higher demand in the job market. Parents encourage their children to nurture a high ambition. Happiness, love and pleasure of learning in classrooms are largely absent. There are not enough opportunities for science and math learning as in many schools there is no science teacher. Science teaching requires more transactional modes of teaching and learning such as labs and science trips. On the other hand, there is less importance on the humane side development through extracurricular activities such as dance, drama, music, craft and arts.

The education commission acknowledges that subjects like art, literature, dance and music allow learners to be creative while the education ministry is more concerned about the sectarian issues and less interested in extra curricula skills. It seems the education ministry is more careful about implementation of prescribed and political curriculum to seize further political benefit.

The Dr. Kudrat-e-Khuda Commission report 1972 suggested teaching moral education till the grade eight but it could not see the light in the last four decades.

Students also think that depending on objective types of exam system was a great mistake as it destroyed students’ curious mind and their reading habit. To continue with the new creative education system (srijonshilshiksha) learners need to adapt themselves. We also need to encourage them to grow the reading habit and also there is a need to train teachers on how to check lengthy exam papers.

Curriculum theorists Aoki describes the other curriculum as a multiplicity of lived curriculum: how a teacher and his/her pupils experience.  There can be many lived curriculums that can vary and be different in every classroom. So it is difficult for a teacher to plan and teach a planned curriculum, the text without knowing the dynamics of the classroom. Therefore, parents must listen to students’ opinions and they need to allow students to express their own views on any issue. Both parents and teachers must try to learn students’ views on socio-cultural issues, what they think, expect and how they view the society they are living in.

In evaluating merits of a student the education system in Bangladesh solely depends on the textbooks and exam system. A rigid exam system is forcing students to memorise notes. There is also not enough support for the students who are falling behind or who have different merit levels and need assistance. All categories of students are studying the same curriculum in the same classroom. This is problematic.

There is a difference between planned and lived curriculum in Bangladesh’s education system, “that’s how the light gets in.” From the current education system, lessons can be learned. The people in the administration, curriculum planners and the civil society should put all heads together to outline how Bangladesh’s education system should be. As there is a lack of political will, it should be taken care of at first. Designing a transactional curriculum, which is practical and interactive, may help make communication between students and teachers more effective. Pedagogical love helps teachers and their students participate equally in understanding each other and gathering wisdom.


The writer is an anthropologist and environmentalist. She is pursuing her PhD research on Curriculum Studies and Teacher Development at Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto, Canada.

Celebration of Excellence in Performance by the Rural Schools

VAB celebrated the Excellence in performance of the rural high schools in Bangladesh in an Award Ceremony on November 25 at 7.00 PM at the auditorium of Bangladesh Bank Training Academy in Mirpur, Dhaka. The Chief Guest was the Governor of Bangladesh Bank, Mr. Fazle Kabir and the ceremony was presided over by Professor Jamilur Reza Chowdhury. Mr. Chowdhury Mufad Ahmed, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Education, Government of Bangladesh was present. Mr. Choudhury holds the responsibility of secondary education in the ministry. The foyer and the lounge were tastefully and comprehensively decorated with festoons and placard of VAB and its work. While taking a walk in the lounge, the Country Director explained the VAB Model going through a large poster. The poster contained photographs of VAB programs in all the four categories and highlighted the English and computer literacy program.

The Country Director explained how VAB brings in and empowers and engages the primary stakeholders in the quality education program. The Governor was visibly impressed with the VAB approach and methodology and considered this to be the right way to get results. The Country Director stated that the three capstone projects for VAB in the immediate future will be: English skill, Computer skill and Citizenship skill. The citizenship program will be spearheaded by the Student Club program of VAB. He mentioned that already three remote schools in the villages attained 100% computer literacy. In one school, even the Ayah participated in the test with students and secured 94% marks in the qualifying test for skill in word, excel and power point.

The Award event started with recitation from the Quran, the recitation being done by Mr. S. M. Hafizur Rahman, Headmaster of Bhurulia Nagbati High School of Shyamnagar. It was followed by presentation of a video on VAB and its work and then by welcome addresses by the Country Director, Professor Jasimuz Zaman, VAB Trust Chairman, Dr. Haroonur Rashid and Ms. Pamelia Khaled, Founder and President of VAB Canada.

Professor Jasimuz Zaman brought into focus the hidden potential for quality education in the rural schools and called for joining the quality drive with VAB. He enumerated the different ways one can come forward.

Dr. Haroonur Rashid pointed out the need for funds for the annual program and also for endowment to provide sustainability of the program. Ms. Pamelia Khaled made a splash with the announcement of contribution herself and from her friends.
The meeting then heard the message from the Founder and President of VAB.
The awards were given away by the Governor of Bangladesh Bank along with the VAB Chairman, Professor Jamilur Reza Choudhury, VAB Trust Chairman, Dr. Haroonur Rashid, Mr. Neaz Ahmed, VAB Board member and Professor Jasimuz Zaman, VAB Country Director.
Awards were given for schools and individuals in eight different categories based on performance with documentary evidence and experience of VAB in the field.

 Excellence in Public Examination Results
 Attainment of 100% Computer Literacy
 Enterprising School
 Outstanding Student

Ramranjan Biswas, Headmaster of Tapobon Secondary Girls’ School, Shyamnagar, Satkhira receiving 100% computer literate School Award.
Mr. Babul Hussain, Headmaster of Panchopukur Girls’ High School, Nilphamary, receiving successful school Award


 Accomplished Teacher
 Enterprising Teacher
 Enterprising Headmaster
 Successful Headmaster

Award of appreciation was given to Mr. Abul Kalam Azad for his passion and commitment to steer the Computer Literacy Program and to Shagrika Rani, Aya of Sunderban Girls High School for her brilliant performance in computer literacy test.
The Table below gives the breakdown of awards received. On the whole, Ponchopukur High School stood out on the top. Among the students, Lubna Akter Moon was the most outstanding student. Md. Nasim Ali from Kanthalbari touched the heart of the audience while narrating his life of struggle against odds.

  Four schools, Palashbari and Ponchopukur in Nilphamari Sadar Upazila in Nilphamari district, Barandali in Keshobpur Upazila in Jessore and Dayamoyee in Nageswari Upazila of Kurigram obtained awards in different categories. These schools had been supported by Bangladesh Bank for the last two years.

Shapahar Dangapara High School did an excellent job in the Employable Skills program under the vocational stream and was supported by Nabarun Welfare Trust.
Islami Academy High School was recognized as a high performing school and had been supported by American and Efird for the last three years.
VAB offered its appreciation and gratitude to the sponsors – Bangladesh Bank, Nabarun Welfare Trust and American & Efird for their support.
VAB expressed its gratitude for the active support of Mr. Amin Rahman of Rotary Club of Wheelers Hill in Australia and to his Club for helping us spearhead the English pronunciation and English drive.

At the end of the award, VAB announced the distribution of a lap top and a projector to nine schools. One set was handed over to the Bhurulia High School by the Chief Guest. The facility has been provided for the use of the student clubs. The schools will make the facility available to the Club executive committee members beyond school hours, on weekends, holidays and vacation.
Mr. Abul Kalam Rafiquzzaman, Upazila Education Official of Shyanagar, Satkhira commended VAB for the program VAB has been conducting in his area of operation. Mr. Chowdhury Mufad Ahmed, Additional Secretary, Government of Bangladesh, in his address, said that no other NGO in Bangladesh work with a model as the guiding instrument. He expressed great appreciation of the Model approach used by VAB. He expressed a desire to visit some of the schools to assess firsthand how the model impacted the schools. He even said he could come to VAB office when I made a suggestion to give us an opportunity to see him for an hour at his office. He mentioned about upcoming programs in secondary education. And some of those appeared to be not far from what VAB is trying to do. There was great appreciation for Dr. Rahman and others who set up VAB and for Pamelia Khaled and her group in Toronto for setting up VAB-C. The Governor of Bangladesh Bank was very appreciative of the VAB Model.

He thought it was exceptional that VAB brought into focus the empowerment of all the stakeholders and he thanked VAB for such an inclusive approach. He enumerated some of the elements of VAB Model in the four categories and drew the attention of the audience of their importance. While giving scholarship is very important and desirable, everyone must come forward to undertake the measures needed to improve the quality of education imparted by the schools. He said that he would be advising the MDs to donate for quality education and entrusted Mr. Neaz Ahmed with the task of follow up. The banks provide fund for scholarship and no doubt that is important. But part of the CSR fund for education should be directed to quality improvement. He also stated that he would like see that the banks spend 30% of their CSR expenditure to education. He announced that Bangladesh Bank would substantially increase its contribution to the implementation of VAB Model in a larger number of schools.
Mr. Chowdhury Mufad Ahmed, Additional Secretary, Government of Bangladesh, delivering his speech in the event.

Mr. Fazle Kabir, Governor of Bangladesh Bank, the Chief Guest, addressing in the event.
Professor Jamilur Reza Choudhury, Chairman of VAB Board, in his closing address pointed to the need for human resources development for business and industry. He mentioned that there will be large groups of teenagers seeking secondary education during the next decade. A good quality secondary education is a prerequisite for the supply of semi-skilled, skilled and professional manpower that the business needs for efficient and competitive growth in the twenty first century. The rural schools that cater the educational needs of nearly 70% of our kids should be supported actively through programs like developed by VAB implemented with well-defined outcomes in quality education.

Mr. Neaz Ahmed, Member of VAB Board, offered vote of thanks to the Chief Guest and recipients of the awards. On behalf of VAB, he thanked the officials and staff of Bangladesh Bank Training Academy for their diligence in running the event smoothly and for providing high quality catering services for the event. He expressed admiration and thanks to the VAB staff and volunteers for their dedication to make this award event a success. The program ended with a photo session followed by dinner

গ্রামীন মাধ্যমিক বিদ্যালয়ের কৃতিত্বপূর্ণ সাফল্যের সম্মাননা প্রদান অনুষ্ঠানের প্রতিবেদন।

গ্রামীন মাধ্যমিক বিদ্যালয়ের কৃতিত্বপূর্ণ সাফল্যের সম্মাননা প্রদান অনুষ্ঠানের প্রতিবেদন।


Celebration of Excellence in Rural High Schools: Volunteers Association for Bangladesh Award Event, 2017

Editor’s Note:

Pamelia Khaled is an Anthropologist, Sociologist and Environmentalist. Currently she is conducting her PhD research in Curriculum Studies and Teacher Development at Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto. She is one of the regular contributors of this portal. We wish her all the best in her endeavors.



VAB is a  charity organization based in New York, set up by Non-Resident Bangladeshis (NRB) registered in both USA and Bangladesh IN 2000. It is dedicated to improving the quality of Education in high schools in rural Bangladesh to enable students to attain Digital, English and Communication skills and achieve better school performance. It aims to expand its activities through philanthropy within the country and abroad. Volunteers Association for Bangladesh Canada is the chapter of VAB, which was established in 2012 under the leadership of Pamelia Khaled and a few like-minded people of Toronto, Canada.


On 25th November 2017 in the evening Volunteers Association for Bangladesh (VAB) arranged an event at Bangladesh Bank Training Academy (BBTA) Mirpur 2, Dhaka to distribute  VAB Award for the schools, teachers, and students assisted by VAB in Bangladesh. Mr. Fazle Kabir, Governor of Bangladesh Bank, was the Chief Guest. And the guest speaker was MofatDr.  Jamilur Reza Choudhury, Chairman, Advisory Board, VAB, Dr. JasimuzZaman, Country Director, VAB and Dr. Mohammad Haroonur Rashid, Chairman, VAB Trust were present to run the event.

The Governor of Bangladesh Bank Mr. FazleKabirpraised and appreciated about the VAB Model and felt enthusiasm learning VAB activities and its model that includes teacher empowerment, school empowerment, and student empowerment project. Each speaker was hopeful to see the success of a sustainable model development of VAB.  Chowdhury Mufad Ahmed, additional secretary of the education ministry said, the government plans to take up a massive $16 billion programme for secondary education to transform the sector by improving the quality of education. The plan will help developing employability skills of secondary graduates. If the proposed plan become successful the quality of secondary education will be improved.

During the event, this encouraging speech was given by Pamelia Khaled the President of Volunteers Association for Bangladesh Canada on the occasion of VAB Award event. The VAB Award was given to the rural teachers and students who performed outstanding academic achievements and teacher development areas. President Pamelia Khaled thanked the Honourable PresidentDrZamilur Reza Chowdhury and all the respectable VAB members and guests who were present in Volunteers Association for Bangladesh (VAB) Award event.  In her speech, she said that after long eight years, I have got an opportunity to come in Dhaka for a short visit for my Ph.D. Data collection. And I’m so glad to be present at this significant award event. I’m a doctoral candidate working as a researcher with the Department of Curriculum Studies and Teacher Development, University of Toronto.

In 2009 I conducted a comparative study with BRAC primary school and Government primary school in Bangladesh. During the study, I felt BRAC and its stakeholders covered primary education in a great extent but there is a lack of support for 15 percent of Bangladeshi youth, a large number of them are not in Secondary education. Thus, I decided to write my Ph.D. proposal to study on Bangladesh religious and secular education.

And I was looking for an organization, who is already on the field and working to improve Bangladesh Secondary education. I am very lucky I found Volunteers Association for Bangladesh, known as VAB, in Bengali‘vab’ means the idea.  In 2012 with a support of a few likeminded people I opened a chapter of VAB in Toronto, Canada. We name it as Volunteers Association for Bangladesh Canada, VABC.

We were lucky enough during the launching event we have got tremendous support to complete 6 Computer laboratory schools in Rural Bangladesh. VAB Canada also raised money for poor people, who were suffering from inadequate resources. VAB Canada also raised funds to support scholarships. Over the period, we raised some funds not enough though, I should mention that it was never been enough, we need more funds to support our Bangladeshi children. However, the fund we raised that will be handed to VAB Country director as soon as possible.

Already we learned about the some of the commendable accomplishment of VAB and its further plan and commitment from other speakers note. I am committed to myself to support more for Bangladeshi needy children, as soon as, I’m done with my study. I request you all to support this good cause. Thank you!

After her urge towards the audience she received an instantaneous response from the audience, and a group of her Dhaka University friends, colleagues and her Childhood friends donated on the spot and committed for further donations for Bangladesh’s poor children.

Pamelia Khaled donated 1 lakh taka on behalf of VAB Canada, which was donated by the local donors. And she also donated 1000 dollars from her Doctoral completion Award (DCA) for VAB Children, the DCA scholarship she received from Ontario Studies for Education, University of Toronto. She ended up with a sweet note that a scholar’s money goes to scholars. She anticipates that VAB will produce many scholars in future and they will contribute to transforming Bangladesh.The Award event was astounding. The commitment of NaeemaHouque, who is  PameliaKhaled’s childhood friend and contribution of the Group of Volunteers Association for Bangladesh Canada members who are Pamelia Khaled‘s Dhaka University friends made the difference. They all committed to supporting and donating to VAB Children. President Pamelia Khaled‘s Scholarship money donation changed the meaning of philanthropy. Her commitment to continue supporting to the  needy and poor brought smile on the faces of  VAB Children, VAB Teachers and VAB parents and VAB members. It was a great support from Volunteers Association for Bangladesh Canada for VAB Children.

 Mahmudul Islam, Secretary Volunteers Association for Bangladesh Canada and IT Specialists, Health Diary, Toronto Canada.

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