Student Empowerment   Teacher Empowerment   School Empowerment   Community Linkage  

Volunteers Association for Bangladesh (VAB, pronounced VaaB – meaning “idea” or “feeling” in Bengali) aims at empowering poor children of rural Bangladesh to have a brighter future. VAB helps them gain quality high school education and vocational skills training.

Since its establishment in 1998, VAB has helped more than 50,000 young men and women and their families in rural areas of Bangladesh to overcome poverty. VAB’s mission is now moving forward with greater strength and higher hopes.

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VAB Successfully Completes Nationwide Online English Conversation Competition among High School Boys and Girls

On January 28, 2021, VAB held an online “National “Competition in English Conversation by high school students, in celebration of the Centenary Anniversary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. It was a competition among twenty five schools in five districts located in five directions in the country, it can thus be considered a National Competition. This is the first of its kind in Bangladesh.

At the first stage, there was an intra-school competition in all twenty five schools in five clusters of schools from five upazilas in five districts. The three best students in each school then competed at the second stage, at the intra-cluster completion in all five clusters. At the final stage, the two best students from each Cluster competed at the inter-Cluster regional/”national” level. Ten contestants from Niphamari, Kurigram, Pabna, Jashore and Satkhira participated. Competition in all the three stages was held online, organized and managed by VAB on the online platform Zoom.

Nationwide competition in English Conversation among high school students is uncommon in the country, the competition being held online is unprecedented. As part of its quality high school education program, VAB has been promoting competence in three areas: Computer, English, and Communication. These three skill sets will significantly pave the way for the rural students for further advances in academic life and career. Online delivery of services is VAB’s initiative in overcoming the severe restrictions imposed by the pandemic.

The winners in the Competition were: First - Mrittika Jahan of Momtaz Mostafa Ideal High School, Bhangura, Pabna; Second - Sadia Anjum Pushpa of Jarina Rahim Girls’ High School, Bhangura, Pabna and Third - Apple Mahmud of Nageshwari DayaMoyee Pilot Academy, Nageshwari, Kurigram. Dr. Jasimuz Zaman, Country Director of VAB, conducted the four-hour long Competition, speaking to each contestant for at least 15 minutes on various topics. Three members of the VAB Board of Advisers, Dr. Mohammad Haroonur Rashid, Prof. Dara Shamsuddin and Dr. Mostafa Md. Golam were the judges. Headmasters, school teachers and distinguished guests from the country and abroad were present to cheer and inspire the contestants.


 VAB’s Founder and President Dr. A T Rafiqur Rahman 
Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

It is with great honor and pride that we announce that Marquis Who's Who, the world's premier publisher of biographical profiles, has just presented A T Rafiqur Rahman, PhD, with the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award, for his “achievements, leadership qualities, and the credentials and successes he has accrued in his field”.

An expert in public administration and development, Dr. Rahman retired in 1996 after more than 15 years with the United Nations (UN). Dr. Rahman also held high positions with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the International Development Research Center (IDRC) in Canada. Apart from his commitments in the field, Dr. Rahman taught at several institutions, including Dhaka University in Bangladesh, Rhodes College in Tennessee, USA, and Baruch College, City University of New York. He was also a visiting professor of political science at Carlton University in Canada and a guest lecturer at the Harvard Institute of International Development at Harvard University. Dr. Rahman has published several books on development politics and administration, including his 2005 book, titled "Bangladesh in the Mirror: An Outsider's Perspective." He has also authored numerous articles in international scholarly journals.

Marquis Who’s Who highlights: “As a commitment to his country, Dr. Rahman established the Volunteers Association for Bangladesh [VAB]. A nonprofit organization designed to improve the economic and social well-being of the rural people of Bangladesh, it also provides scholarships, tutoring and teacher training services, and equipment for rural high schools in the poverty-stricken country.”

Since 1899, when A. N. Marquis printed the First Edition of Who's Who in America®, Marquis Who's Who® has chronicled the lives of the most accomplished individuals and innovators from every significant field of endeavor, including politics, business, medicine, law, education, art, religion and entertainment.



Three Students of VAB Schools Will Compete in

Math Olympiad at National Level


For the first time ever, students of Shyamnagar, a remote Upazila in Bangladesh bordering the Sunderbans, reached the National Level of Bangladesh Mathematical Olympiad in its history of 18 years. Two students from Sundarban Secondary Girls’ School, Rumi Akhter, left picture, and Sadhana Mandal, middle, as well as Sourav Chandra Mandal of Ramjannagar Union Tofazzal Vidyapeeth qualified for the national level after succeeding at the regional level. Rumi and Sadhana will compete in the Junior Category and Sourav in the Secondary Category.

The Olympiad, with a slogan “Learn Math, Have Dreams”, is organized by the Bangladesh Mathematical Olympiad Committee and The Prothom Alo with the patronage of the Dutch-Bangla Bank. Following the emphasis on Language and STEM subjects in its programs for quality education in disadvantaged rural schools, VAB in 2015 started encouraging the schools to have their students participate in Math Olympiads. It also offered preliminary training for selected students by Volunteers from Math Olympiad. Within four years in 2019, 19 students from VAB-partnered schools competed at the regional level in the Junior Category and 10 in the Senior Category. In 2020, the numbers jumped to 83 students in the Junior Category and 25 in the Secondary Category.

The three Shyamnagar students going on to the Finals have been congratulated by the Shyamnagar UNO A N M Abujar Gifari and the Academic Supervisor of the Upazila Secondary Education Office, Mina Habibur Rahman. Mr. Gifari assured them of assistance if they succeed at the national level. VAB is giving awards to the contestants and the Math Teachers of the two schools. VAB is also arranging for appropriate training to prepare the contestants for the Finals.

All of us congratulate the three accomplished students and wish them best for their success in the 18thMath Olympiad of Bangladesh. We recall that in the 2018 International Mathematical Olympiad, a Bangladeshi student earned the Gold Medal.



Outstanding SSC Results of VAB Schools

The rural schools VAB works with in Shyamnagar upazila of Satkhira district had outstanding successes in the SSC examinations held earlier this year. The average pass rate was 95.48 percent. This is 12.61 percentage points (or more than 15 percent) higher than the national average of 82.87 percent. The pass rate of these schools also surpassed that of the Board in which they belong – they outstripped Jashore Board by more than 9 percent. 5 out of the 15 schools achieved a 100% pass rate.

The performance level of successful candidates, as measured by the highest grades of “A+” and “A”, is also superior to that at the Board level. 54.44 percent of the successful Shyamnagar students earned “A+” and “A” grades, while for Jashore Board the “A+” and “A” grade holders accounted for only 39.80 percent.

These rural schools are relatively disadvantaged, dismally so in comparison with the urban schools in the country. The students are also underprivileged. Many come from very poor families, the income earners are day laborers, street-side vendors, van pullers, and the like. During the trying times of the coronavirus pandemic, many of these families do not have any source of income, and are completely dependent on assistance from others for mere survival. Some of the schools were badly affected by the recent Cyclone Amphan. Cruelly, the same schools were also severely damaged by Hurricane Bulbul previously. It is remarkable that despite all these impediments and obstacles, the rural schools of Shyamnagar performed better than all other schools in the Board and the nation, at large, and many urban schools, in particular.

Following its mission of helping the poorest in Bangladesh get quality education, the policy and practice of VAB has been to select disadvantaged schools and underprivileged students in rural Bangladesh. VAB feels that its programs have been effective in these schools in imparting quality education and in helping these students get an opportunity for a better life.



Deepest Condolences On The Death of Prof. Dr. Jamilur Reza Chowdhury

VAB lost its most caring and committed leader, Professor Dr. Jamilur Reza Chowdhury, fondly known to us as JRC, on 28 April, 2020 (Inna lillahiwainnailaihirajeun). Since 2010, JRC was the Chairman of VAB’s Advisory Board, the highest body giving leadership, guidance and direction to our Organization.

Prof. Dr. Jamilur Reza Chowdhury was a national icon. His contribution to the country, particularly in the fields of engineering, science, technology, education, research, infrastructure building and economic development, are unparalleled. The nation will remain indebted to him forever.

He was a Professorat the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), Vice Chancellor of Brac University, and for the last few years of his life, Vice Chancellor of Asia Pacific University. At a critical period in the history of Bangladesh, in 1996, he was an Advisor to the Caretaker Government. He chaired a number of Committees at the national level, led several NGOs as head of their topmost bodies, and provided leadership to numerous public and private institutions.

JRC received a number of national and international awards. In 2017, the Government of Bangladesh conferred the EkusheyPadak to him for his contribution in science and technology. In 2018, the Government honored him by appointing him a National Professor.

While leading VAB, JRC made an indelible mark by steering our Organization in our work for quality education for the most underprivileged in rural Bangladesh. VAB was inspired to take innovative measures and novel programs with the aim of achieving quality education in an effective, affordable and replicable manner.When needed, he went out of his way to promote the cause of VAB supporting needy students and deserving high schools in rural Bangladesh.

All of us at VAB mourn his loss deeply, express our condolences to his bereaved family, and pray for magfiratof his Soul. (Please see an obituary here as our humble way to pay respect to our beloved JRC.)


 VAB Distributes Assistance to Distressed Families Affected by the Coronavirus Crisis
VAB is deeply concerned with the miseries and economic hardships imposed by the coronavirus pandemic on the most disadvantaged communities and families in Bangladesh. Of particular worry for VAB are the severely distressed families in the school communities with which VAB works.

As described in the previous post on our Home Page, VAB initiated an Assistance Effort to help these families with cash sufficient for 15 days’ supply of food and essentials. VAB USA came forward with a modest contribution to support 1,200 most affected families, 20 families in each of the communities of 60 schools VAB works with.Taka 1,800,000 was remitted to VAB Bangladesh for the purpose.

Distribution of cash assistance in the hands of the heads of distressed families has started. As of now, 300 families in 15 school communities in Shyamnagar upazila and 100 families in 5 school communities in Keshabpur upazila have been provided with cash assistance. Overcoming severe restrictions of lockdown in most areas of the country, distribution was possible with assistance received by the courtesy of a sister NGO, Bangladesh Women’s Health Coalition (BWHC) and through selfless services of VAB Bangladesh and its staff and their remarkable mobilization of support from local persons and institutions. A detailed Report, in Bangla, can be found here on the distribution of assistance in Shyamnagar , and here on the distribution in Keshabpur.

VAB will complete the distribution of cash assistance to the 800 families in the remaining 40 VAB school communities as soon as practicable. The progress in distribution will be posted in the website.


VAB’s Assistance to Families in Utter Distress During Coronavirus Crisis

Parents of many students of the 60 disadvantaged rural schools with which VAB works are day laborers or daily wage-earners. The lockdown on account of coronavirus is depriving them of their livelihood. VAB, in a very modest way, is making an effort to provide assistance to these families in utter distress.

VAB has identified 20 most needy families in each of the areas where its schools are. These are near-destitute families of students. There are also teachers who are not paid from a government salary scheme (MPO), and are dependent on private tuition.

VAB plans to offer cash assistance of Tk. 1,500 per family. The amount is sufficient for food expenses for two weeks. Thanks to the profound generosity of the Chairman of VAB’s Board of Directors, Mr. Syed Zaki Hossain, who is providing the fund for all 1,200 families, VAB Bangladesh is now in a position to implement its assistance effort, and has madethe necessary preparations.

At this time, VAB workers are self-quarantined in their homes. Their activities outside, including dealings with banks, are extremely limited. However, plans have been made to transfer funds from the VAB Bangladesh Office in Dhaka to local banks. Agents of local banks have agreed to reach the target families directly and expeditiously. In many cases, funds will be transferred to the accounts of the Headmasters who are most reliable and accountable. The Headmasters then, with the help of school teachers, will distribute cash in the hands of the recipients.With some external help, we have been able to send out fund for 400 families in Shyamnagar in SatkhiraSatkhira and Keshabpur in Jashore, the families would be receiving them in the next few days. Full implementation has to wait for lockdown to be lifted in Dhaka.

VAB will review its next course of action as the situation changes. Meanwhileany concerned and interested person can donate to VAB specifically to assist families in utter distress in these trying times. In the USA, please write a check to VAB, and send it to VAB, P.O. Box 234, Irvington, NY 10533. In Bangladesh, contribution can be deposited in VAB’s Bank Account No. 148.120.5550 in Dutch-Bangla Bank Limited, Adabor, Dhaka. One can also donatevia Paypal through VAB’s website: www.vabonline.org (“the “Donate Online” button is in the upper right hand corner of the Home Page).

VAB sincerely hopes its help may provide some redress. Most of all, our thoughts and prayers are for the well-being of the growing number of needy and distressed families. Let us all pray that we all come out safe from this crisis.



Rural Students Awarded Government Assistance for Sports Training:

Appeal for Helping Them Enroll in Training Academy

 A daughter of day-laborer parents,a son of a caretaker in people’s home, a grandson of a van driver, and a son of a fisherman and a day-laborer – these four high-schoolers from remote corners of the country have been selected for enrollment in the Bangladesh National Sports Academy (Bangladesh KreeraShikkhaPratishthan –BKSP). Bangladesh Government will pay all of their expenses - for education and training, board and lodging, clothing, etc. But they each have to pay an initial fee of Tk. 17,090 for admission into the Academy. All four youngsters are from rural schools VAB works with, and have been trained in soccer through the Student Clubs organized and mentored by VAB. VAB is now appealing to all for helping these students with the admission fee. Any amount paid by check or via Paypal will help (please click on the “Donate” button above).

All four students are from ShyamnagarUpazila of Satkhira District. Their coach, Akhtar Hossain, was impressed with their soccer talents when they played in their schools as members of their VAB Student Clubs. All of them come from very low-income families, and none of the familieshave the means to incur any costs beyond bare subsistence. Msmt. RafezaKhatun, a student of Ramzannagar Union TofazzalVidyapeeth in Harinagari village is the youngest of four sisters. The two day-laborer parents can barely meet the expenses for subsistence of a large family. A student of ZobedaShohrab Model Secondary School of Majat village, Md. Hridoy Hossain lives with his van driver grandfather, because his mother had toreturn to her parental home. Krishna Kumar Mondol, the son of a fisherman father and a day-laborer mother, is a student of Kathalbaria A G Secondary School of Nakipur village. Md. Ariful Islam is a student of Shaokatnagar Secondary School in Shaokatnagar. His father maintains his family by caretaking in other people’s homes.

BKSP is the only Sports Training Institution in the Country. Its graduates are leading players in every sport, and form a large contingent in each National Team. VAB is proud that members of its Student Clubs in underprivileged rural schools got the opportunity to receive training in BKSP.

It’s a life changing opportunity for these young boys and girls. If you wish to be a part of it, kindly donate. Visit website: www.vavonline.org.

Should you wish to donate in Bangladesh, kindly use the following information.


A/C  No. : 0430310020599

Mutual Trust Bank Ltd, Mohammadpur Branch, Dhaka.

You may deposit on line or by check. You may send your check to VAB office at the following address:

Volunteers Association for Bangladesh

House 806 (fifth Floor), Road 3, BaitulAman Housing Society, Adabor Dhaka.


VAB school in the 2nd position in debate competition among 80 schools in Keshabpur Upazila


SatbariaGirls’ High School secured the 2nd position among 80 schools in a debate competition at Keshabpur Upazila, Jashore. Dipryia Kor Shetu, a 9th grader became the `best speaker’ in the Upazila. Dipriya and the team coach Mr. Khorshed Alam, Senior Teacher, Satbaria Girls’ High School said over telephone: "The win has been possible because of the Debate Club program of VAB. We are grateful to VAB.” The Debate Club program of VAB is a part of its Student Club program, which is designed to strengthen critical thinking, problem solving and teamwork among students, in addition to improving learning.

It may be mentioned that there are over one hundred schools and madrasahs in the 12 unions of the Upazila. VAB works only in four unions. And all four of them secured the top position in their respective Unions. The first position holders from the unions competed in two rounds to be ranked in the Upazila, based on points secured. Satbaria High School came out second.

The debate competition was organized by the Bangladesh Anti-Corruption Commission in order to increase awareness against corruption.


 VAB’s English Conversation Program between Rural and Urban Students:

Student Volunteers of University of Asia Pacific Awarded Certificate

VAB has successfully completed a program of conversation between university students and students of rural High Schools in Bangladesh. Twelve volunteers from University of Asia Pacific completed 240 minutes of conversation spread over ten weeks.

The Department of English headed by Professor Arjumand Ara arranged for a Certificate Award Event at the Conference Room of the Department on January 20, 2020. Professor Jamilur Reza Choudhury, National Professor and Vice Chancellor of the University distributed the certificate among the student volunteers. A number of students, Jannat, Alice, Anika, Raisa, Tania and Mehnaz, spoke of their experience; they expressed delight to have been a part of the program and expressed the view that the program was also instructional for them as well, in addition to being of benefit to the High School students.

The event was attended by Professor Arjumand Ara, Professor Mehnaz Chowdhury, Professor Zakia Ahmed and many of the teachers of the department. The Vice Chancellor who is also the Chairman of VAB’s Advisory Board encouraged the department to continue with the program. The meeting ended with a vote of thanks by Professor JasimuzZaman, Country Director of VAB.

The English Conversation Program was initiated by VAB as a part of its English Language Skill Development Drive, in an effort to remedy the alarming deficiency of rural high school students in English Speaking and Comprehension. The innovative and affordable program helps rural students in attaining these skills through telephone conversations with proficient students of urban universities.

Sweeping Performance of VAB Schools in Sports


VAB schools attained outstanding performance at the upazila (sub-district) level in the recently held 49th Bangladesh National School and Madrasa Winter Sports Competition – 2019. The accomplishments of VAB schools spanned a wide array of diverse sports and athletic events in Shyamnagar upazila in Satkhira disrict, and in a number of events, they swept the top positions. READ MORE
Relief Needed for VAB Schools Severely Damaged by Cyclone 'Bulbul'

Most of the people and schools associated with VAB were safe from Cyclone ‘Bulbul’ which devastated part of the country’s coastal area in the southwest. However one school, Kathalbaria A G Secondary School in Shyamnagar of Satkhira district, was severely affected. The structures which house its classrooms were terribly damaged (see picture above). Classes are being held now under the open sky. The relatively new school performs remarkably in both curricular and co-curricular fields. In the upazila-level competition held by the Upazila Administration during the post-cyclone period when their school had to remain closed, its students became Champions in Debating and Runners-Up in Quiz.


Kathalbaria’s dynamic and fairly young Headmaster, Mr. Md. Azaharul Islam appealed for relief to the local Administration and philanthropists everywhere. VAB wholeheartedly supports this appeal, and requests generous patrons to make contributions for the relief efforts. You can click on the “Donate” button and make your donation via Paypal. On behalf of Kathalbaria’s distressed students, we thank you in advance.


VAB receives check from Bangladesh Bank

Mr. Khondkar Morshed Millat, General Manager, Sustainable Finance Department of Bangladesh Bank handed over a check for 20 lac taka to Professor Dr. Jasimuz Zaman, Country Director of VAB.

VAB earlier submitted the half yearly report of the Sustainable Education Program of VAB being financed by Bangladesh Bank. The work involves a series of programs for strengthening student learning and competence as well as programs empowering teachers and engaging communities. The program is being successfully implemented in 25 schools covering clusters in Nilphamari Sadar (Nilphamari), Muradnagar (Cumilla), Bhangura (Pabna), Kashabpur (Jashore) and Shyamnagar (Satkhira).

The program had a total allocation of 45 lac taka. The current disbursement has been made after evaluation of the program and its expenditures during the first part of the project with 25 lac taka.



VAB’s Annual Board Meeting Takes Landmark Decisions
Volunteers Association for Bangladesh (VAB), an expatriate-led Charity, headquartered in New York promoting quality education for rural students in Bangladesh, held the 21st Annual Meeting of its Board of Directors on November 3, 2019 in Jamaica, NY. VAB, pronounced as “VAAB”, worked over the last 20 years in 150 high schools in 17 districts assisting more than 300,000 high school students. READ MORE
VAB Meets with Representatives of Synergos

A meeting took place on 17 October, 2019 between representatives of US-based non-profit Synergos and VAB officials. A brief presentation on the work of Synergos was followed by presentation on VAB with stimulating discussion on VAB programs and a productive exchange of ideas. READ MORE 


Expatriates Support VAB in Awarding Scholarships


Recent initiatives of generosity by a group of Bangladeshi expatriates in Australia are helping VAB overcome some of its resource limitations and are enabling it to award scholarships to additional students in rural Bangladesh. Since 2017, this group, led by Engr. Aminur Rahman and his wife Mrs. Zobeda Rahman, funded the educational expenses of 35 high school students and 7 college students. READ MORE …

Khan Academy Teaching Resources for Rural High Schools


Agami Foundation, an International NGO with Head Office in USA offered three-day training on the use of Khan Academy resources for teaching Math at Natun Bazar High School, Nilphamari Sadar, Nilphamari on September 7 – 9. All fifteen Math teachers from fifteen schools of Nilphamari cluster took part in the training titled: Digital Skill Development Training.

Agami Foundation adapted Bangladesh curriculum in Khan Academy model of coverage of Math. The trainers demonstrated the Khan Academy method of covering different topics of Math. The teachers then conducted the coverage of the Math topics in a mock class room. The material can be accessed both on-line and off line. Because of slow and uncertain network at schools, off line access to Khan Academy program was installed in school computers.

Four trainers, Marjuk, Rashedul, Nurun Nahar and Sadia conducted the training. Abul Kalam Azad coordinated the program from VAB. The Headmaster of Natun Bazar High School, Mr. M. Ruhul Amin extended full cooperation to run the program

The teachers were responsive and promised to test out the method and provide feedback. Agami Foundation will respond to any difficulties and needs in successful implementation of the program.

The program was chalked out earlier between Ms. Dilruba Chowdhury, Director, Agami Foundation and Dr. Jasimuz Zaman, Country Director, VAB on February 11,2019 at Agami Foundation Office at Kalabagan, Dhanmondi, Dhaka.


 New Window of Opportunity for Rural High Schools

On September 4 and 5, VAB hosted a Program on Computer Programming offered through an initiative by The Prothom Alo - Standard Chartered Bank. Twelve teachers from different schools took part in the Program which provides training on computer programming. This will be followed by site visit by representatives and volunteers of The Prothom Alo to induct the students into the Program.

This opens up a new frontier of opportunity for rural students. Students will work in teams with guidance from teachers and would be trained in computer programming. VAB has been successfully conducting a Computer Literacy Program for rural High School students for competence in Word, Excel, Power Point, Internet search, and Emailing. Over the last two years more than ten schools met the criteria of computer literacy of one hundred per cent of their students. Training in computer programming is a new area for rural High School students. Among other things, such training will enable them to compete in national competitions in programming in near future.

The Program was opened by Engr. Munir Hasan, a pioneer in organizing national competitions in Math, Science, Computer and Robotics. Young programmers working with Engr. Munir Hasan - Anik Humayun, Tahmid Rafi, Tarif Ejaz and Humayun Shakal - conducted different sessions of the workshop/training program in a participatory manner with hands-on practice by participants. The Country Director of VAB, Dr. Jasimuz Zaman, distributed the certificates to the participants.

VAB launches an ambitious program for English Language Training in Rural High Schools

VAB has launched a training program on English Learning in its pursuit of mitigating the awfully poor English Language Skills in rural High Schools. The program incorporates several innovative methods of training, with the main thrust that

·       Students need to learn English for their own interests,

·       Students can learn only through concerted practice.


                    English Conversation Program between Rural High School Students and Urban University Students

As part of English Language promotion program, VAB launched a telephone conversation program between urban and rural students. The program has been initiated with volunteers from East West University at Dhaka. Twenty six volunteers have been assigned to talk to twenty six high school students. Prior to the program, the Country Director addressed a group of students, primarily of the Department of English, at East West Campus and explained the program.

Apala Biswas and Farhana Islam, lecturers in the department, did a very commendable job in organizing the meeting. Seven or eight members of other teachers also joined. Tasnuva Marium, a student of English department, aptly conducted the meeting. The Country Director expressed great satisfaction to see about 50 students opting to hear about volunteering. He also expressed his gratefulness and appreciation to the Vice Chancellor and the Head of English Department for their support and encouragement.