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The City of Education: Rajshahi

Education is the backbone of every nation. To develop any nation, it must need educated work force and it is the key of national progress. Do you know any place in the world, which is recognized for their educational identity? I think there is only one city in the world called the city of education though I am not sure. Yes, I am talking about the city of Rajshahi in the country of Bangladesh. You may ask why we call it the city of education. This is actually very simple, because of the huge establishment of educational institutions.

In Rajshahi we have 41 Kindergarten schools, 911 Primary Schools, 30 Junior High Schools, 215 Secondary High Schools, 63 Colleges, 2 Government Universities, 7 Private Universities, 1 Teachers Training Institute, 1 Physical Training Institute, 20 Polytechnic Institutes, 1 Blind/Disable School, 36 Mass Education Centers, total 489 various kinds of Madrasas, 36 Girls Schools, 36 Girls Colleges and 1 Medical College. Totally, in Rajshahi, we have 1890 educational institutes and that’s why it is called the city of education.

However, some of them are really well known and famous in the country as well as in the world. Rajshahi University, Rajshahi College, Rajshahi Medical College are just iconic names of them.

Rajshahi College: Rajshahi College is one of the oldest institutions of higher education in Bangladesh. Established in 1873 in Rajshahi city, it is said to be the third oldest college in Bangladesh after Dhaka College and Chittagong College. Rajshahi College was the first institution in the territories now comprising Bangladesh to award a Masters degree. It also offers three years bachelor and four years honors degree courses in various disciplines. The college is affiliated with the National University. Since 1996, it has stopped enrolling Higher Secondary students. Situated in the city center, Rajshahi College is adjacent to Rajshahi Collegiate School and is very near the famous Barendra Museum.

Rajshahi College
Rajshahi College

The origins of the college were in a private English School that had been founded in Rajshahi in 1828 by the concerted efforts of many of the region’s most prominent citizens (this school is now known as Rajshahi Collegiate School). In 1836 the school was taken over by the provincial government of Bengal and was converted into a Government Zilla (or District) School. In 1873, again through the concerted efforts and appeals of local citizens, the Zilla School was given the status of an Intermediate College, and F.A. courses were introduced into its curriculum. With further development this college was accorded “first-grade rank” in 1878, which meant that it could teach B.A. courses and be affiliated to the University of Calcutta. The name “Rajshahi College” came with the first-grade rank in 1878. The year 1881 saw the inauguration of the M. A. classes; B.L. classes were added in 1883. The postgraduate Departments in Arts and in Law continued till 1909 when they were withdrawn because the college could not meet the requirements of the New Regulations of the University of Calcutta which came into force in that year.

Admin Building of Rajshahi College
Admin Building of Rajshahi College

Starting with only 6 students on the roll in 1873, the college counted 100 in 1878, 200 in 1900, 400 in 1910, 800 in 1920 and no less than 1000 in 1924; there was only one Muslim student at the college in 1873; 5 years later it was still one, but the figure rose to 156 in 1916 and climaxed at 215 in 1924. Subsequently, of course, Muslim numbers rose in the college and after 1947 eventually exceeded the Hindu numbers. Today, in independent Bangladesh, the college has been accorded “University College” status and no longer teaches Higher Secondary or Intermediate courses. Currently, it is part of the National University system of Bangladesh and its curriculum includes only undergraduate and post-graduate courses in a variety of disciplines.

Rajshahi University: University of Rajshahi or Rajshahi University is a public university located in Rajshahi, a city in northwestern Bangladesh. University of Rajshahi was established in 1953, the second university to be established in what was then East Pakistan.

Rajshahi University
Administrative Building of Rajshahi University

The university’s forty-seven departments are organized into nine faculties. Rajshahi University is located in a 753 acres (3 km2) campus in Motihar, 3 kilometres (2 mi) from the Rajshahi city center. With 25,000 students and close to 1000 academic staff, it is one of the largest universities in Bangladesh. In addition to hosting programs in the Engineering, arts, sciences, agriculture, social sciences, business studies and medical sciences, the university houses a number of institutes of higher studies. This is the premier university in Bangladesh to have online subscription of world-renowned journals.

Rajshahi University Library
Rajshahi University Library

The first proposal to establish a university came in 1917, when Calcutta University created the Sadler Commission to assess the university system in Bengal. However, the recommendations of the report had no immediate consequences.

Zuberi International Guest House of Rajshahi University
Zuberi International Guest House of Rajshahi University

Following the Partition of India in 1947, what is now Bangladesh became East Pakistan. University of Dhaka, established in 1921, was the only university in East Pakistan at the time. Demand for a university in the northern part of East Pakistan gained momentum when two universities were established in West Pakistan without the establishment of any in the east. Students of Rajshahi College were at the forefront of the movement demanding a new university. Finally, Rajshahi was selected as the home for the second university in East Pakistan and the Rajshahi University Act of 1953 (East Bengal Act XV of 1953) was passed by the East Pakistan provincial Assembly on 31 March 1953. Itrat Hossain Zuberi, the Principal of Rajshahi College was appointed the first Vice-Chancellor of the university. Initially, the university was housed in temporary locations, such as the local Circuit House and Bara Kuthi, an 18th-century Dutch establishment. B B Hindu Academy, a local school, housed the library, teachers’ lounge and the medical centre of the university. The university started out with 20 professors, 161 students (of which 5 were female) and six departments—Bengali, English, History, Law, Philosophy and Economics. In 1964, the offices moved to the permanent campus.

The 1960s was a turbulent period in the history of Bangladesh, when demands for East Pakistani autonomy became stronger. The students and staff of the university started playing an increasing role in politics during this period. On 18 February 1969, Shamsuzzoha, a professor of the university was killed by the police when he tried to prevent them from shooting student demonstrators. This date is now commemorated as Zoha Day. During the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971, the university campus was used as a base by the Pakistan Army. A number of professors, students and officers of the university were killed by the Pakistan army during this period.

After independence, a new act regarding the administration of the university came into being—the Rajshahi University Act of 1973. The post-independence years saw the university grow steadily in student enrollment and size of the academic staff. However, the 1980s were turbulent years for the university, as the students agitated with other institutions of the country against the military rule of Hossain Muhammad Ershad. Since early 1990s, the university have seen relative calm and lowering of session backlogs, though active student politics remains a contentious issue to date.

Rajshahi Medical College: Rajshahi Medical College, located in Rajshahi, Bangladesh, is a state-sponsored medical school affiliated with the Rajshahi University.

Rajshahi Medical College
Rajshahi Medical College

It was established in 1958, the second such institution in erstwhile East Pakistan after Dhaka Medical College. It has a large hospital that is the central provider for advanced health care in the northern part of Bangladesh.

Rajshahi Medical College admits 175 students every year for its M.B.B.S. program. It’s dental unit admits a further 50 students. Students are admitted in these programs after high school and get a degree after 5 years of study and 1 year internship in the Government owned public hospital.

It has two boys’ hostel named ‘shahid muktijoddha kazi nur un nobi hostel’ and ‘shahid shah moinul ahsan pinku hostel’. Shahid muktijoddha kazi nur un nobi hostel is locally known as Main Hostel. It has three girls’ hostel named ‘polin hostel’,’falguni hostel’ and ‘ayesha siddiqua hostel’.Besides there are also two hostels for intern doctors.one for males and another for females.The name of the male intern doctors’ hostel is ‘shahid jamil akhtar roton hostel’.

A handful number of enthusiastic and philanthropic people started a Medical School in Rajshahi city in 1954. A four year course was started leading to diploma called LMF (Licentiate of Medical Faculty) offered by the State Medical Faculty, Dhaka. A total of eighty students were admitted in the very first year of its inception. In 1954, the then East Pakistan Government converted it into a government Institute, Rajshahi Medical School.

Later on, the government decided to start a five year course leading to MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) degree and as such in 1958 Rajshahi Medical School emerged as Rajshahi Medical College. At the beginning, the Medical College was housed in a small building of the Barendra Museum. It was later shifted to the present college building. Forty two native and two foreign students were admitted in the first batch.

Since then, the college has been continuing its steady progress. The number of admitted students is now increased to 175 which is equal in 8 old government medical colleges of Bangladesh. Foreign students of SAARC countries are being admitted in this Institution every year. Other hospitals situated in the city like Infectious Disease Hospital founded in 1962, Hospital for Tuberculosis and Chest Diseases founded in 1966, Leprosy Control Center founded in 1968 are all affiliated with this college. A Nuclear Medicine Center was also established within the campus in 1970. Following the war of liberation in 1971, the Medical College and hospital have made considerable improvements in many aspects such as extension of the college buildings, student’s accommodation, number of hospital beds, and establishment of a modern Auditorium etc. There has been addition of new departments like Coronary Care Unit, Nephrology, Neurosurgery, Radiotherapy and Gastroenterology. Recently the hospital is equipped with CT scan, MRI, angiogram and renal haemodialysis machine. There have been a few recent additions in the College too like establishment of a beautiful mosque at the college premises, modernization and beautification of college main gate and premises, extension of the conference room with modern audio-visual facilities. At present besides undergraduate MBBS and BDS courses, postgraduate MD, MS, M.Phil, MPH and Diploma degrees are being awarded in 18 disciplines at Rajshahi Medical College. Already a handful number of successful doctors have achieved their postgraduate degrees from this college and working in various field of their specialization with good reputation.

It has 2 hostels. The Shahid Muktijoddha Kaji Nurnnobi Hostel and Pinku hostel. Between them the Nurunnobi hostel is the oldest. The writers of this paragraph resides in 319 room of this hostel. It is also commonly known as Main Hostel. It has a big field in front of the Hostel and every afternoon we play Football mostly.

The educational talent of Pakistan

The fact that Pakistan is a country rich in educational talent is proved once again by the outstanding achievement of Moosa Feroze Tarer, from Mandi Bahauddin in Pakistan. He secured 1st position in an online World Mathematics Competition held in Australia. It is worth mentioning that he was in competition with no less than 1.4 million participants from across the world. He secured 4,405 points in total whereas the second position in the 11-13 years age category was also secured by a Pakistani student Hasnain with 4,303 points. In the 14-18 years age category as well, Pakistan managed to snatch the 2nd position as a Pakistani student named Osama secured 3318 points.
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The 13 year old boy, now referred as Math Wizard, has been awarded a gold medal in Australia and appointed the Math Ambassador for the country. Moosa said that he had been trying to win the competition since 2009 and also clinched the 5th spot in 2011. He was also awarded bronze and silver medal in Kangaroo International Competition.

Moosa is not the first in line to have brought this kind of pride for Pakistan. Arfa Abdul Karim Randhawa was a Pakistani student who became the World’s youngest MCP (Microsoft Certified Professional) at the age of 9 in 2004. Her visit to Microsoft Headquarters in 2005 at the invitation of Bill Gates gave her tremendous popularity worldwide. She unfortunately passed away at a tender age of 16 in 2012.

The point to note is these people made these remarkable achievements in spite of the lack of availability of resources. Students from Pakistan are outshining in all major scientific fields even though they face severe financial and training constraints.

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