The Oxford Student Union has a Bangladeshi president. Meet Anisha Faruk

First of all, I feel weird about this; rejoicing in the success of a person we share little more than ethnicity with. It feels like we’re claiming some credit where none is due. It’s all her, people. She did it because she’s good. Her success is hers.

Anisha Faruk aka Padma; a lady of Bangladeshi origin, has been elected the president of the student union of Oxford University. Her father is Bangladesh Army major Faruk Ahmed(retired).

Padma is completing her undergraduate program as a historian.

She previously occupied the co-chair position of the Oxford University Labour Club. And she was the editor-in-chief of The Oxford Student, the largest student journal of the University. So she’s no stranger to great responsibility and respect.

Ms Anisha beat tough competition from independent candidate Ivy Manning and Ellie Milne-Brown; who represented the reputed Aspire panel. This was a historic election with a 20.3 per cent participation rate. Ms Anisha promoted diversity as the primary strong point of her panel.

With this, the trend of the continued success of our compatriot overseas continues. We can only hope to match and exceed the success our peers are enjoying. And we hope to leave a blazing trail of achievements by Bangladeshis across the world.

Debating for development: UNFPA Bangladesh Youth Dialogue

From November 12-14, 2019, the Government of Kenya, the Government of Denmark, and UNFPA are convening the Nairobi Summit, a high-level conference to advance the implementation of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Programme of Action. The conference will offer an inclusive platform, bringing together governments, UN agencies, civil society, private sector organisations, women’s groups and youth networks to discuss and agree on actions to accelerate the implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action.

On September 6, 2019, UNFPA Bangladesh in collaboration with Bangladesh Debating Council (BDC) and Independent University, Bangladesh Debating club (IUBDC) launched a two-day debate tournament at the premises of Independent University, Bangladesh (IUB).

The tournament was organised with an objective to engage the youth, where the participants from universities – both public and private – can engage in an extensive discussion on how the realisation of the ICPD Agenda is intrinsic to sustainable economic growth for Bangladesh.

Their voices echoed through the debates on a range of topics that are close to UNFPA’s agenda. The ideas and recommendations of the participants will be presented to the stakeholders of national and international development to the Summit.

The debate tournament addressed real-world issues and brought out the voice of the youth on problems like disseminating messages on specific ICPD themes: sexual reproductive health and rights, maternal health, prevent violence against women and child marriage. To empower and involve them to disseminate these issue-based messages to their peers and to bring the attention of policymakers about the needs of youth-based SRHR services: prevention of child marriage, maternal mortality and violence against women. To build awareness among adolescents and youth about the opportunities and challenges associated with them.

To mark the Summit, 16 teams from reputed public and private universities from Dhaka, Rajshahi, Khulna, Sylhet and Chattogram were invited to participate in this competition, along with 22 most reputed judges in the debate circuit. The teams had four preliminary rounds of debate that were carried out on September 6. All the teams faced off against each other where the top four teams at the end of the preliminary rounds qualified for the finals held on September 7, 2019.

The championship went to Independent University, Bangladesh Debate Club (IUBDC) with the runners-up award going to IBA, University of Dhaka.

The debates were followed by a youth-centric plenary session opened by Dr Asa Torkelsson, Representative of UNFPA whose opening remarks echoed the vision of the UNFPA.

“UNFPA has been working with and for young people since our inception. Our partnerships with young people are, and must always be, based on their active and meaningful participation. In order to achieve the ICPD Agenda from 25 years ago, we need to take account of your experiences, concerns and stories to shape an inclusive future for you, who will also help us achieve the SDGs.”

She said

The speech was followed by a presentation on the topic by UNFPA Deputy Representative, Eiko Narita. Following that Sakib Bin Rashid, Instructor at 10 Minute School, Ashreen Mridha, Bangladesh Women’s National Basketball Team Player, and Umama Zillur, Founder of Kotha, led an interactive session covering youth leadership, women empowerment and sexual violence.

“On behalf of the entire English debating community of Bangladesh I am honoured that the UNFPA entrusted us to help crowdsource important ideas to be taken into consideration at Nairobi, this validates that the time the youth spend behind researching and generating discourse on these crucial ideas do indeed matter and has encouraged us all to keep the discourse going so that our ideas and voices can play a role in the ever changing global landscape.”

Said Fardeen Ameen, the Chair of Bangladesh Debating Council

Sex education to be introduced in school and madrasa curriculum of Bangladesh

Within the span of ten years, the education board has added and changed quite a few things in the curriculum here and there. However, recently the government has decided to take the initiative to launch “Sex-Reproductive Health Education” program which is quite a breakthrough for our schools and madrasas.

The brain behind the initiative

“Generation Break Through” will run the program accordingly in schools and other educational institutions around the country. The Secondary and Higher Education Department has been working on this project for about 20 to 25 years.

In an interview with Dhaka Tribune, Project Director and Director (Planning and Development) Dr Mohammad Jahangir Hossain mentioned in that the program took place in some schools and madrasas as “Phase One”. Since the program was running successfully, the government has decided to put it in under all schools and madrasas accordingly. With the end of a successful phase, the second phase of this program will start from this year. However, the official launch of this subject will occur around 2021-2022.

Better late than never

In the beginning, there were some concerns as most teachers and education institutions were doubtful of the program. However, with proper training funded by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the project broke through the stereotypes by taking small and steady steps. According to the sources, despite the “social constricting” ideologies, parents in most education institutions took an interest in the program.

Elementary and middle school students are studying under this program through sports at ‘Gender Equality for All Corner’ or ‘Teenage Corner’ established in the institutions. From the second phase onward, the program will have strict rules to accommodate trained teachers, fixed content and the consistent habit of creating a healthy environment for the students.

Small steps to a safer space

In a society where sexual abuse of both genders has increased at an alarming rate, sex education is a very crucial step for us. The idea of consent is much more diverse than we think of it to be.

“Be it a village or an urban society youths are sexually active, so they must know the dos and don’ts about safe sex and hygiene, in order to make the right decisions with situations like these”

Says Nusrat Zahid, a student of Bangladesh University of Professionals, when asked about her take on this new program.

The fundamental knowledge about sexual reproductive health and safe sex will bring awareness among youths and their surroundings.

Sex education to be introduced in school and madrasa curriculum of Bangladesh

Within the span of ten years, the education board has added and changed quite a few things in the curriculum here and there. However, recently the government has decided to take the initiative to launch “Sex-Reproductive Health Education” program which is quite a breakthrough for our schools and madrasas.

The brain behind the initiative

“Generation Break Through” will run the program accordingly in schools and other educational institutions around the country. The Secondary and Higher Education Department has been working on this project for about 20 to 25 years.

In an interview with Dhaka Tribune, Project Director and Director (Planning and Development) Dr Mohammad Jahangir Hossain mentioned in that the program took place in some schools and madrasas as “Phase One”. Since the program was running successfully, the government has decided to put it in under all schools and madrasas accordingly. With the end of a successful phase, the second phase of this program will start from this year. However, the official launch of this subject will occur around 2021-2022.

Better late than never

In the beginning, there were some concerns as most teachers and education institutions were doubtful of the program. However, with proper training funded by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the project broke through the stereotypes by taking small and steady steps. According to the sources, despite the “social constricting” ideologies, parents in most education institutions took an interest in the program.

Elementary and middle school students are studying under this program through sports at ‘Gender Equality for All Corner’ or ‘Teenage Corner’ established in the institutions. From the second phase onward, the program will have strict rules to accommodate trained teachers, fixed content and the consistent habit of creating a healthy environment for the students.

Small steps to a safer space

In a society where sexual abuse of both genders has increased at an alarming rate, sex education is a very crucial step for us. The idea of consent is much more diverse than we think of it to be.

“Be it a village or an urban society youths are sexually active, so they must know the dos and don’ts about safe sex and hygiene, in order to make the right decisions with situations like these”

Says Nusrat Zahid, a student of Bangladesh University of Professionals, when asked about her take on this new program.

The fundamental knowledge about sexual reproductive health and safe sex will bring awareness among youths and their surroundings.

Bangladesh moves to make technical education compulsory in every school

Photograph by: Saikat Mojumder

In the midst of all our hopelessness and complaints about our education system, there’s perhaps one silver lining at last. Our education system is finally about to include compulsory vocational education at the school level.

The Education Minister of Bangladesh, Dipu Moni, expressed the necessity of implementing technical and vocational education in the education system of the schools in Bangladesh. She stated that every school has to make technical and vocational training compulsory from 2021.

“Every school must have at least two trades from which each student will choose one. If any student fails to complete higher education, he or she must get employed under the chosen programme.”

She stated.

Read more: Bangladesh earns the highest rate of trust in vaccines, France the lowest

Dipu Moni also added that the government wishes to develop this particular sector of education. So in essence, the process of reforming the education system has already started. And we can hope that a bright future lies ahead of us!

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Want to study abroad? Things you need to consider before the big decision

Let’s be honest. It’s so exciting and easy to dream about studying abroad and getting to discover and experience new places and cultures. So exciting that we often forget that it’s not as simple as it seems. And so before you know, your dreams of earning a foreign degree might turn into a nightmare without proper consideration and preparation.

So are you really made for this? If so, are you really ready yet?

It’s true that you don’t have to have the personality of an experienced globetrotter to study abroad but you need to be a few things. Here’s your checklist before you even consider studying abroad for a foreign degree as an option.

1. The new responsibilities:

First of all, you need to be honest with yourself. Wanting to be mature, independent, and consistently on top of things is okay, but you need to face the reality. Everyone who goes abroad for higher studies will be facing new responsibilities. There will be no one there to make sure you attend your classes or your hand in intelligible essays while maintaining your chores. You would need to arrive with a willingness to take responsibility for yourself.

“Finding a place to live in, cooking and cleaning while studying and working, handling the never-ending paper works- all on my own, thousands of miles away from home; it’s intimidating!” said Ishrat, a first year at the Technical University of Munich, Germany.

2. Letting go:

Let’s get real. You will have to be able to give up seeing your family and let go of your rigid circle of friends. You’ll be there all alone while they’ll all be back at home. Truth is they’ll move on and adjust at some point to living without you. You will have to do the same without letting it affect you because you’ll be having essays to work on.

“Letting go of my family for 4 entire years was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. It’s so hard to concentrate when you constantly feel homesick!” said Anik, Texas University Arlington, USA.

3. Adapting:

It’s obvious that when you’re studying abroad, wherever you go, you’ll have to face new accents, foods, social situations, and traditions. You can’t expect vacations or time offs for Eid and Pujas. You need to be adaptable and flexible.

“Dealing with culture shock was a real challenge for me but thankfully my extrovert nature helped me adapt very easily. However, I’ve seen my introvert friends suffering to adjust so hard. It’s really important to prepare yourself first if you’re not extremely adaptive” said Dyuti, Auckland University, New Zealand.

4. Multitasking:

It’s impossible to adjust out there alone if you’re not a multitasker. Unless you’re living with family members out there, you will have to do all your household chores like cleaning or cooking for yourself while you excel in your studies and work after classes! Also, what’s the point of all the hard work to get there if you can’t plan a few trips around? Exactly. Multitasking is the key to surviving out there.

“I did my research before applying so I knew how it was going to be. It’s really helpful if you already have a little bit of part-time job experience besides your studies. That way, you’ll learn a little bit of multitasking and it will help you a lot” – Ananya, Technical University of Munich, Germany.

5. Know what you’re doing:

Seriously, if you’re planning to study abroad on a subject that you’re not good at, don’t go for it just because it gets you there. It will immensely affect your future. Sure, getting to experience a whole new place and cultures would be exciting but you’ve got a life to live after that. What happens next? Fine, we get that it will be a life-changing journey for you but you’ve still got to excel, you know? The degree will be useless otherwise.

“I was so good at Math back in school that my teachers recommended that I study economics and statistics in future, but I had my mind set on an independent life abroad. So, I wasted 4 years of my life on the wrong subject thinking it would eventually work out. Well, it didn’t”, said Fariha, a former Arts student at Monash University, Malaysia.

So, don’t just go for it because you want a new life-changing journey. Choose your program wisely.

Studying abroad can be a daunting and exciting experience altogether. It’s not impossible if you can push yourself in the right direction. As long as you’re choosing the right program for yourself and you believe it’s worth giving up a few things in life for it, you’re good to go.
Good luck!