Shaheen Alam Mondol, the son of a day labourer in the remote village of Modajalfara in Kurigram Sadar Upazila, took everyone by surprise by achieving outstanding results in the SSC examinations this year.
Overcoming all the hurdles of poverty in his life, the boy managed to obtain the highest level of achievement in the exam: GPA 5.
While attending school, Shaheen remained hungry on many days; and on the days when there was a meal at home it was meagre for the family of five. But nothing could hold Shaheen back from his dreams.
“From class seven I have been tutoring junior students at their homes. The money I got from tutoring was paying for my educational expenses,” he said.
“Sometimes I got exhausted though; I used to ask myself – what good will this bring? But I never stopped chasing my dreams, never gave up,” an exuberant Shaheen said.
Shaheen attended the SSC examination in the humanities group from Kathalbari High School in Kurigram Sadar Upazila. Obtaining the top grade from humanities is generally considered difficult. While 27 percent of science group students attending this year’s SSC obtained GPA 5, only 0.6% of humanities students were able to reach the grade.
Shaheen’s father Abdul Baten works as a day labourer in their village. “Day labourers are plentiful but work is not. I’ve no property except my homestead. When there is no work, I need to go find a loan to feed my family. And when lenders are not willing to give, we starve,” he said.
Shaheen has two siblings studying in school. But like Shaheen, they have little support from their father in their pursuit of education.
Shaheen says he has taken his first step towards realising his dream of being a government officer, but he does not yet know how to turn it into reality.
The boy said he counted on two good Samaritans – a college student Imran and a primary school teacher Shamima Nasreen – in his journey to success.
Shamima, who Shaheen thinks of as his source of inspiration, said: “Shaheen remained silent in the class. Sometimes, seeing his face, I could understand that he hadn’t eaten anything, but he never complained.”
Kathalbari High School headmaster Gias Uddin said: “The boy has got potential. Financial hardship would be his biggest obstacle. I fear he may not go any further if he doesn’t get assistance.”