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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

Inspiring the next generation

The power of ensuring students understand the growing opportunities for women

Update : 28 May 2024, 09:36 AM

In Konkapoit, 12km away from the Dhaka-Chittagong highway, greenery all around like any other village in the country, the paved narrow road running through lush green paddy fields and rows of shops clustered at the intersection ushers into a gated community. A large, well-maintained pond with a play field on one side leads to a nine-storied building with a secured boundary and a lawn in front. 

This is actually a residential college for the girls which houses around 300-plus students. The building is well maintained with a stand-by generator ensuring uninterrupted power supply. It has three lifts running round the clock for the residents. The ground floor provides for the principal’s office, visitors’ room, three lower floors for dormitory for the students, while the upper floors cater for the classrooms, laboratory, library, auditorium, and other facilities. 

In addition to a team of well-selected, efficient teachers the college employs dedicated staff to ensure proper care of the resident students of the college. 

The principal showed me around and introduced me into a large auditorium filled to its capacity. The very first look at the crowd of neatly attired students and their beaming faces immediately indicates the spirit, care, health and happiness of these children prioritized by the school. The students remained disciplined and well-mannered, keeping silent as not a word was uttered as I stood on the dais.

While in the army I remember having addressed college students back in the 90s in order to motivate them to join the army as officers. Back then while addressing a mixed audience of boys and girls after screening an attractive documentary and my short speech in a college in Mymensingh, there was a girl who stood up and asked “Whatever opportunities you presented are for the male candidates as I understand. You don’t take in girls to become officers in the army. Then why include us in the audience?” 

I was deeply touched with her mild outburst and technically answered that female candidates can very well join as medical doctors and become officers. I also mentioned that someday in the future we may as well see female officers in other disciplines, but we’ve got to wait till then. 

Things have changed over the decades. Since 2013 the Bangladesh Army has been employing female officers in almost all their branches. We have female officers as helicopter pilots, paratroopers, not to mention other routine staff and field work in the army. 

I made a short presentation followed by a concise video clip showing glimpses of the selection procedure, training and life in the cantonments. The audience was spellbound because such information was never presented to them in this manner. The young inquisitive minds came up with a lot of interesting questions later. 

Since 2013 the Bangladesh Army has been employing female officers in almost all their branches

What attracted them most was the self-reliance gained from day-one of their training and the financial burden being lifted off their parent’s shoulders. The idea of pursuing studies in all sorts of subjects at no cost in a reputed army institute also caught their interest.

Many aspired to become BCS officers but the uncertainties remained with the time loss because of delays in the never-ending selection process. They were also apprehensive of unsafe and chaotic campus life at the public universities. Still, to many, joining the army seemed to be quite an opportunity. 

I assured one student about keeping her long hair after the training -- although during training cadets must settle for a bob cut. Another student worried about being kicked out of training. Again, I reassured that barring the act of telling lies, cheating, or stealing, she would remain safe.

I had another officer with me, a major recently retired from the army, who has his daughter, a young officer now undergoing her studies on EEE in the Military Institute of Science and Technology. He could answer questions from his experience as a father, as he witnessed the issues faced by a budding female officer in the army and its rewards.

The seasoned principal, a dynamic lady, took the dais to conclude, rightly highlighting the keen interest and the loving care the entrepreneur who established the school has for students. It is excellent to see our country’s young talents grow and be presented with the opportunity to pursue their careers, be it in the military or in any discipline. 

 

Brig Gen Qazi Abidus Samad, ndc, psc (Retd) is a freelance contributor.

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