Listening for the voices of change: Here’s some advice for Bangladesh’s youth

May 6, 2015

Reading Time: 4 minutes

In Bangladesh, far too many students do not get the chance to go to college. In a country where 30 per cent of the population are young (10-24 years), it remains evident that much of the potential remain untapped, and too many young voices go unheard.  Medhabikash, a scholarship programme that funds meritorious and underprivileged students, offers a second chance at learning- the kind that transcends social and economic boundaries.

In Bangladesh, far too many students do not get the chance to go to college. In a country where 30 per cent of the population are young (10-24 years), it remains evident that much of the potential remain untapped, and too many young voices go unheard.  Medhabikash, a scholarship programme that funds meritorious and underprivileged students, offers a second chance at learning- the kind that transcends social and economic boundaries.

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Participants at the Medhabikash Education Summit held on April 25 2015

At an event held in Dhaka, students and alumni of the programme were able to engage with some of the most successful personalities of the country. Corporate leaders, musicians, journalists and academics gathered under one roof to discuss overcoming challenges and dreaming big. Here’s some of their advice to the youth of Bangladesh.

16712961222_568e842721 flickr_crop Nadia Sharmeen
Crime Reporter and Women’s Rights Activist“Since its birth, Bangladesh knows what courage is. Our strength lies in our rebellious nature. When I first joined as a crime reporter, I was only one of four women in the whole country. Girls and women are now coming forward giving way to a dynamic, gender-balanced work environment. I see women faring better in crime journalism; they bring more empathy into a news and they work harder to prove themselves. To the young students and graduates, if you find yourself alone and without a dream, brace yourselves for difficult times. Find what you want to do and fight for it.” (Photo courtesy: Nadia Sharmeen)
courtesy Amitabh Reza_cropped Amitabh Reza
Director and Producer“I find inspiration in things that frustrate me. My ads and films were born out of the wrongs I see around me. Embrace what disturbs or unnerves you and then choose a side. I consider a dream successful when it brings an impact for the greater good. Our biggest enemies are our political and religious instability. I choose to work around these issues and focus on the positivity. Be a rebel and go for what you truly believe in.” (Photo courtesy: Amitabh Reza)
IMG_0351_crop Tahsan Khan
Musician, Actor and Lecturer “It’s always a struggle to find the balance, but I love my work.  I left my high paying job at Unilever to pursue my passion in music, later finding that I also enjoy teaching. I feel that young graduates face a reality check when they start looking for jobs. There is a lot of job-hopping as a result, because they find their expectations and reality do not match. I suggest students start engaging with their surroundings by taking up extra-curricular activities or doing internships. More organisations should consider of designing internship progammes targeting students and fresh graduates.”
IMG_0385_crop Zara Mahbub
Senior VP, Head of Communication and Service Quality, BRAC Bank Limited“My top five tips for young graduates are be confident, have a positive attitude, strive to be a problem solver, give importance to networking and keep going with a continuous smile. Individual happiness is important for a nation’s collective happiness. Our biggest strength is our human resource, and our weakness is again, our vast human resource that remains unutilised. It’s easy to succumb to pessimism when we are surrounded by poverty and lack of skills. The day we are able to think beyond our individual interests is when we will be able to come out of our shells.”
IMG_0389_cropped Rubaba Dawla
Chief Service Officer, Airtel Bangladesh“Whether it is the arts or a career in business, it is important that one seeks out where one’s strength lies. Be open to learning new things and have an aspiration. Love and enjoy what you choose to pursue.  If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Go forth with confidence and you will soon find what it is that you truly want to do.”
IMG_0387_crop Mahmood Hossain 
Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, Grameenphone“I want to urge students to prepare themselves before heading into the battle for a successful career. Develop soft skills- work on interpersonal skills and gather the kinds of experience that lead you to embrace values of ethics and integrity. Above everything else, keep learning and choose to evolve continuously. Success is a result of preparedness and opportunity. When the opportunity arrives be prepared, and go for it with passion.”
IMG_8477_crop Laome Marma
Final year student, Electrical and Electronics Engineering, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology“Bandarban and its surrounding regions see very slow progress in development. After finishing school, all I wanted to do was leave home and get into a good college. I couldn’t have received the medhabikash scholarship at a better time in my life- it took off a load off my parents’ shoulders. I’m studying at BUET now. In my own remote hometown, we have advanced so much in terms of connectivity. Yet Bandarban remains isolated from the rest of the country, especially with education and health services, which lag years behind. These are the sectors I want to contribute to. Drones can be used to deliver medicine in these regions. If I had not received medhabikash, I would have found others ways to complete my education, but the programme made it easier for me to dream big. When I think about how far I’ve come from my tiny school in Bandarban, I know that I am right where I want to be.”
X10B9971_crop Shammi Akhtar
Masters student in Crop Botany, Bangladesh Agricultural University“As the only sibling to have finished school, I had to work hard to prove myself to my parents. My father, a farmer, could have never afforded to pay for my education. Medhabikash also gives me a monthly stipend. I considered it to be my most valuable asset when I left home and settled down in Dhaka. Without it, I would have had no other way to pay for my expenses. I have chosen to do my masters in crop botany. Bangladesh has an agrarian economy, yet research in this sector is too slow. I want to stand beside the farmers in my country and research newer and more dynamic crop yields.”
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Raihan Ali
Third year student, English, University of Dhaka“I grew up in a village in Rajshahi, far away from Dhaka and all its opportunities. When I received GPA 5 in my secondary school certificate exams, and got the medhabikash scholarship, I knew it was time to leave home and pursue my dream of studying English. I always loved to read English novels, and one time, even attempted to memorise the dictionary! I was thrilled when I was accepted into the University of Dhaka English programme. I’ve been seeing many bright graduates struggling to get a job just because their cumulative GPA falls short of the 3.5 requirement set by far too many organisations. I wish we could do away with this system of strictly labelling students by a number. I want a transparent society with a quota-free job market, where students will be judged by only their true merit.”

 

 

 

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Good initiative!!