Initiative for minority students seeking university admission

The political economic condition and geographic location of Chittagong Hill Tracts made it difficult for high school graduates to prepare for higher education. Facilities available in urban centres for young students seeking university admission are missing in the remotes areas of CHT. In this context, Bangladesh Marma Students Council organised a seminar to help students to prepare better for university admissions. Informing the students about tertiary level education was their primary goal. Niswi Mong Marna writes about the initiative.  

 

 

Audience of the programme.

Audience of the programme.

Other than that, every year BMSC organises counselling and motivational talks on different issues. Admission into public universities and examination methods are discussed at these talks. Important social issues like physical and mental changes at puberty, sex education, health issues, current political situation of the world, extra curriculum activities et cetera are part of these programmes. Quiz competitions, cultural activities such as recitation and painting competitions, magazine and wall-magazine publication et cetera organised by BMSC help the students to explore their creativity.

On May 13, BMSC organised a daylong seminar at Jyoti Vidya Niketon in Dhamrai. Established in 2001, this educational institute is well known for providing education to ethnic students in exchange of minimal fees. ‘Progressive young students must lead the way, spread light and education’ was the theme of the seminar where 300 students were present this year. Chow Mong Prue Marma, from the department of development studies of Dhaka University anchored the programme. Dr Thowai Aung Ching Marma discussed on admission in universities, the need for practicing science and his experience of studying in medical college. Former student of Bangladesh University of Engineering Technology shared her experience of studying at her alma meter and discussed various matters of getting scholarships for higher studies.  Asingyaing from Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University and  Julie Prue Marma from Dhaka University talked about the problems women face, the actions that should be taken, and the role of ethnic people regarding these matters. Nu Mong Prue Marma discussed about the advantages, disadvantages of and the quality of education at Notre Dame College.

Julir Prue Marma giving her speech to the students.

Julir Prue Marma giving her speech to the students.

Emphasising on the need for higher education and vocational education, Dr Thowai Aung Ching Marma said, ‘Many students from CHT are rather hard working, but for the lack of proper guidance they cannot reach their goals. Very enthusiastic students come to me enquiring about medical studies or engineering. However, despite their interest, they are not eligible for studying them as they lack the necessary background, as in biology for medical studies, math for engineering et cetera. Proper guidance could take them a long way which is why it is necessary to enlighten them about these matters from the primary and secondary levels of study’.

Every student has their individual qualities, some excel in math, some in science, sports or singing. It is important to find out these individual qualities before these are lost in misguiding, opines Dr Thowai. Only institutional studies would not help, one has to know their capabilities and choose careers accordingly, it is the established ones’ responsibility to help them find their specialties. Otherwise ethnic people too are bound to have a big number of educated unemployed youth.

5Hla U May Marma, who got a scholarship from Canada’s Memorial University of Newfoundland, said, ‘To live content life, one has to find the meaning of it. One might find themselves in a shaken place even in old age trying to find the meaning of life. But what will definitely help one in the process of finding one’s true desires and what they want with life, along with handing over a key to the meaning of life is education’. Passing the steps of conventional education informs us that this education becomes the yardstick for the quality of life for one, and thus one must need to get higher education, so is Hla U May’s viewpoint. She shares a heartrending story of a mother from a remote area of CHT, who, walks over 10 miles then travels a long way just to leave and receive her daughter who studies at a missionary school at Chittagong. She asked the mother if it troubles her to take all this hassle, the mother replied, ‘Till I live, my daughter must study, if necessary I will beg, but I will educate my daughter.’ Hla U May shares that this mother’s intention puzzled her for a long time, later she realised, it is not always about just earning money, for some it is the invaluable self-respect, confidence, and most of all, an identity. Hla knew people who had tonnes of limitations to bar them from getting education, and yet, they never gave up. No one is born brilliant, it is the hard work, patience and integrity that take one to peak of success, to get one financial and mental stability.

One of the matters discussed in the seminar was the lesser number of educated women among the ethnic people. Julie Prue Marma, a student of criminology department at University of Dhaka, was rather happy to see that in Jyoti Vidya Niketon, there were more girls than boys. She says, ‘More number of girls here prove that despite of innumerable adversities, ethnic girls are marching forward. In the hills, there are schools but no teacher. People in CHT barely make their days end, getting education in such circumstance is almost an impossible task. For girls it is even harder, money is not the only concern here, their security is always at risk. Fighting the social insecurity and marching forward is a light of hope.’

Chow Mong Prue Marma encouraged the present students at the seminar, ‘Each of you is a potential instrument for building up our group of people. You will play a significant part in building up the nation, for which you need to be a leader.’

Ashingyaing Marma statied that the present world is run by science and put emphasis on the need of practicing science among the ethnic students who lack an active involvement in the arena. Nu Mong Prue Marma talked the students through with their struggle. He urged them to think about their parents who are working on their agricultural lands or carrying heavy products through the hilly roads to earn their livelihood. He mentions that such passion of the parents’ towards getting them educated should be ultimate motivation when the students start getting tired fighting the odds in here. He also said that it is mandatory to be involved in cultural activities, to practice art and to be up-to-date with recent happenings around the world.

The objective of the entire seminar was to state that education is imperative in building a successful society. This process requires helping each other every way possible to progress, to secure our future.

 

Niswi Mong Marna is a student of University of Dhaka. Translated by New Age Youth.

 

 

 

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