This Bangladeshi student studying BTech in India is trying to ensure every child gets an education. This is his story

Sammam Sahadat, an LPU student, is one of those rare young people who encourage the youth to work for the larger community and build a better tomorrow
Sammam Sahadat | Pic: Sourced
Sammam Sahadat | Pic: Sourced

It is a heartwarming moment when we have our dreams come true. But many of us, maybe even most, are given certain things to start our quests in life. Education is one of those boons. To even think that many children do not get the gifts that they deserve is gut-wrenching to say the least. But then there come a select few who are driven by the sole purpose of balancing the scales towards equity in society.

Bangladesh-based SM Sammam Sakti Ibn Sahadat, a student at Lovely Professional University (LPU), falls in that lot. The founder of Education 4 All, his goal is to provide education for underprivileged kids. His project is active in more than five countries in the world and he is also dedicated towards improving Bangladesh's literacy rate. He has received several awards like the Global Youth Leadership Award by the Global Youth Parliament and is also a member of AIESEC. We caught up with him to ask a few questions to know more about the project and what keeps him ticking. Excerpts:

Tell us about the inner workings of Education 4 All? How did the project come to be and in what ways are you moving forward?
The main theme of our project is to ensure the right to education for each and every one on this planet. As a youth activist, my work is based on one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) set by WHO, which is quality education. Education 4 All aims to provide education to underprivileged children and to push the literacy rate higher. So, I started with recruiting country directors for this project and met 5 people across Sierra Leone, Nepal, Pakistan, Ghana, Ethiopia who were keen to join us for this noble initiative, and shared the passion and zeal to do something for the children. They started to work for Education 4 All in their respective countries by creating awareness and collecting donations for the children. We have plans to set up a school by the year 2030 where we will provide free education to children belonging to economically weak families and can’t afford to study. We will also arrange for all their educational stationery, school bags and other educational requirements.

What were the personal narratives that shaped you into the individual that you are today?  
I was born and brought up in 2001, in Dhaka. My father Sahadat Hossain was a professor of Mathematics and my mother, Ratna Parvin, a housewife. In my childhood, I was very shy about communicating with other children of my age and shared a comfort zone only with my younger brother. My shyness in speaking with others worried my parents a lot. One day when my father and I were travelling together, at the railway station, he introduced me to a poor boy of my age. We became friends and he told me that I was fortunate to go to school. He mentioned that due to lack of money, his parents cannot afford to send him to school. His father was ill and they did not have too many funds for his treatment either. He used to pray that if he had money, he would go to school to fulfil his dream to become a doctor and treat people like his father. That became a turning point for me. I took an oath that I will work for the children who dream big but do not have the avenues to fulfil their dreams. So, after completing the HSC examination, I decided to dedicate myself to social welfare. I connected with 10 organisations like Online Model United Nation (OMU), AIESEC, Unite-2030, Global Peace Chain and so on for improving the condition of people under poverty.

What has been your experience studying in India? What are some of the differences you observe between the two countries and their cultures?    
It has actually been a fabulous experience for me to study in India. I am pursuing my BTech from Lovely Professional University. LPU has been really welcoming to foreign students. LPU accommodates more than 3,000 foreign students on campus. It has a dedicated international student affairs department that helped me during my admission formalities. The colourful culture, and hospitality of LPU, made me fall in love with this country. In fact, I feel India is my second home.

What are some of the ways in which the education scenario could be made better in both countries?
From my point of view, both the country's governments are working hard towards advancements in the education sector. I feel, to create global citizens, rote learning should be changed, and equal importance should be given to all the subjects. Students should be encouraged to pursue the subject that they like. Most importantly, there should be a change in the evaluation system. Marks still continue to play the most important factor in deciding children’s future which often is treated as a burdening factor. The pressure of marks often makes students underperform. Instead of focusing the evaluation on a three-hour exam, the focus should be on classroom participation, projects, extracurricular activities, communication and leadership skills.

In what ways could addressing issues at a student-level be taken to larger platforms so that a real change is brought about?
I believe that students are the future of a nation. It is important that students raise their voices against injustice and violence when they see it. This can be done in multiple ways. One way is by protesting the issue with a larger group to create awareness. For example, a few years ago two students were killed in Dhaka by a driver who did not even have a driving license. After this incident, students from schools and colleges came together to protest. They wanted to ensure that no driver is allowed to drive without a license. As a result of the protests, police started checking the license of every driver regardless of their status. Another way is by joining organisations. A lot of youth organisations allow students to volunteer and be a delegate. By participating in organisations such as the United Nations for Youth, students can not only bring forth issues on a larger platform but can also help solve these problems with the guidance of mentors and other students.

What were some of the setbacks and challenges that you faced along the way and how did you overcome them?
As I mentioned, I was shy and nervous to talk to people and at that time my father helped me a lot to cope-up with this hesitation. In 2017, my father passed away, just four months before my Higher Secondary exams. My mother became my strength and encouraged me to continue with my dream of child education. In the same year, I joined LPU to become an Aerospace Engineer. With the help of the university, I was able to manage my studies along with my dream project Education 4 All.

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