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


For the last three years VAB has been successfully steering its pursuit of mitigating the awfully poor English Language Skills in rural High Schools. A series of training programs were undertaken with the leadership of Engr. Amin Rahman, a freelance linguist and social activist residing in Australia. His Rotary Club of Wheelers Hill near Melbourne supported the programs for the past two consecutive years.

The training allowed the teachers and students to come out of their shell, but fell short of our expectation of generating a surge in English learning.

Based on the experience gained and field survey regarding the obstacles, VAB took an intensive and participatory approach. First, it developed an in-house training program, trained its own personnel in the delivery of the program, and sent them to the rural schools to train the students  in English learning, in a participatory method.

The primary thrust of the program is to hand over the training to the students themselves, which is expected to be a more effective and sustainable endeavor. VAB acts as a catalyst providing a pathway.

Two messages are made clear:

·       Students need to learn English for their own interests

·       Students can learn only through concerted practice

In each of classes VI to X, a group of ten students is selected. We call this the Leadership Team. This team will eventually train all the students in the class. We believe the 10-member team provides a critical mass in each class to change the dynamics of the use of English in the classroom. These students will catalyze the practice of English learning for the whole class.

Guideline is provided to the Leadership Teams. They are asked to practice in groups, in pairs and individually. Their performance will be reviewed after the end of one month. Every Team has a team leader who will record the practice schedule and outcomes.

Students are provided with a Guide Book: Road to Learning: A guide to learn and converse in English. In a day-long session, the students are shown how the Guide Book can be used effectively to improve skills in Vocabulary, Pronunciation and Spelling, Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing. The students are also provided with a booklet on Limericks and a DVD containing various resources for pronunciation, spelling, listening, reading and writing from different sources. (Limericks give useful guidance for pronunciation. The booklet is authored by Dr. Mushfiq Rahman.) Demonstration is given on their effective use. Students are also shown the connection between requirements in their curricula with the Guide Book.

The training has already been conducted in twenty one schools and will be done in all cluster schools partnered with VAB, totaling 50 schools.

VAB is grateful to the donors, Bangladesh Bank, Ms. Hasneen Muktadir and Dr. Mushfiq Rahman for their generous contribution.


      Dhaka University Debating Team Members Train High School students of Rural Bangladesh

VAB organized a Debate Training program covering fifteen schools at Shyamnagar, Satkhira. Training was given by two former stalwarts of Dhaka University Debating Team, Mr. Abu Raihan and Mr. Abdul Quaiyum. Three venues were used for training, ChingraKhali High School on July 21, Safurunnesa Girls High School on July 22 and Kanthalbaria High School on July 24.

On completion of the training, the schools were divided into two groups and intergroup debate competition was conducted with four topics, one after the other. Kanthalbaria School and Safurannesa girls’ school came to the final round.

Safurunnesa Girls High School team became the Champion.

Six debaters and a teacher from each school got the training with a total number of 105.

VAB is grateful to its donors, particularly Bangladesh Bank for supporting the program.

Ponchopukur is the Girls' High School National Cricket Champion

Ponchopukur Girls High School at Nilphamari Sadar Upazila is the National  Champion in Girls Cricket for High Schools.

Three cheers for the players, the mentors, the school, the parents and guardians and the whole community at large. It is an outstanding achievement for the rural school.

The team went with a winning streak at the sub-district, district and divisional levels and reached the National Level of High School Cricket Competition. And on January 25, it became National Champion.

The mission of VAB is to help underprivileged rural boys and girls get quality high school education. VAB’s measures for quality education build upon a combination of improved classroom education and students’ self-education by utilizing their intrinsic potentials. As one tool of self-education, students’ clubs – in debating, sports and volunteering, for example – are playing a big role.

As a specially disadvantaged school, Ponchopukur Girls' High School started partnering with VAB in 2012. Since then, the school has been making steady progress in both academic and co-curricular programs. The laurel achieved now will boost the zeal and enthusiasm of Ponchopukur together with other schools in the region."

Accomplishments of the Students from VAB Schools in Satkhira Cluster

Talent Search

In the 2019 National Talent Search Competition organized by the Ministry of Education, two students from VAB schools succeeded at the Upazila level and moved to the district level.

Smriti Sarker: Grade X student of Jhapa Braja Bihari High School secured the top position at the Upazila level in the area: Bangladesh Studies and Liberation War. Smriti also qualified at the district level in Math Olympiad this year. She is recipient of special (scholarship offered by Master Deen Hasnat at Tk.1,000 per month. The scholarship was awarded based on her merit and dire need for financial assistance.

Nasim Ali. Currently a Grade XI student at Shyamnagar Mohsin Government College, Nasim secured the top position in the area: Language and Literature. Nasim obtained a scholarship of Tk.1,000 per month for twelve months offered by Mrs. Monwara Begum of USA. Nasim brought more laurels for himself and the school by securing top position in two events at the Upazila level in the competitions during the National Education Week organized by the Ministry of Education in 2019: Essay Contest and Individual Debate. While a student of Kathal Baria High School, he participated in a National Debate Contest on Television.

Science Olympiad

Science Olympiad during the Science and Technology Week organized by the Ministry of Science and Technology saw the success of one student at the Upazila level.

Shourav Chandra Mondol. Grade X student of RamzanNagar Tofazzal High School , Shourav topped in the Science Olympiad 2019 held during the Science and Technology Week. He also qualified in Math Olympiad at the district level. Because of his merit and dire need, he has been receiving special scholarship offered by Mrs. Laila Chowdhury of Australia at the rate of Tk.1,000 per month.

Education Week Competitions

Four students won at the Upzila level and moved to the district level in competitions held during the Education Week  2019 organized by the Ministry of Education.

Rifat bin Azahar. Grade X student at Kanthal Baria High School, Azahar secured the top position in Individual Debate Category held during the Education Week 2019. Azahar earlier participated in a Television debate, the National Debate Competition organized by the Dhaka University Debate Club and the National Debate Competition at Khulna Division.

Monira Khatun. Grade VIII student at Safirunnesa Girls High School secured the top position at the Upazila level Individual Debate Championship competition at the junior level during the National Education Week.

Niha Akon. Student of Grade X at Safirunnesa Girls High School secured the top position in the Upazila in the Individual Dance competition.

Nasim Ali. Nasim secured top position in two events at the Grade XI-XII level: Essay contest and Individual Debate contest, as mentioned before.

VAB congratulates all the students and commends the schools for their cooperation in the student activities encouraged and guided by VAB. VAB also congratulates and extends deepest appreciation and thanks to the donors of special scholarships.



Workshop on Critical Participatory Action Research (CPAR)
On January 25, 2019, VAB organized a day-long Workshop on CPAR at the VAB Training Center at Adabor, Dhaka. The focus of Participatory Action Research is on collective inquiry and search drawing upon experience and social history. VAB’s innovative measures for quality education in rural Bangladesh can benefit immensely from PAR. The workshop was thus directed to 20 Headmasters and Teachers from partner rural high schools of VAB from different parts of Bangladesh.

Professor Anisur Rahman, a celebrated economist of Bangladesh and a pioneer in PAR, addressed the workshop. He emphasized the importance of casting aside the distinction between the “researchers” and the “researched”, and of collaborative research among them. In this context, he introduced two words of African origin: “uakana” (build one another) and “uglolana” (sharpen one another). Dr. Meghna Guhathakurta, Executive Director of RIB (Research Initiatives, Bangladesh) narrated some of the work of RIB to explain how PAR can be applied in practice. Professor M. M. Akash of Dhaka University pointed out the need for focus on avoiding dependence and keeping the sustainability issue at the forefront. Mr. Amin Rahman, an engineer and a linguist explained how the principles of PAR can be introduced in a teaching-learning environment in high schools.

Professor Jasimuz Zaman, Country Director of VAB, welcomed the honored guests and explained how VAB pursues its quality education program with inclusivity of all the stakeholders for schools – students, teachers, management, parents, community leaders and education officials. The Headmasters briefly narrated the recent attainments of the schools in association with VAB.  

Launching of the “Engineers ’66 Employable Computer Skill Development Program” 

Engineers 66 Foundation under its social program through Engineers 66 Trust Fund entered into an agreement with VAB to fund this project at four High Schools in rural Bangladesh. The program will train the dropout SSC students and the unemployed youth of the locality at four locations with fifteen students each, to develop computer skills for job employment or self-employment.

The scope of the program will be to develop skills in data base, photo shop and publication, in addition to word, excel, power point, internet and email.

The Country Director welcomed the participants and the honored guests – Engr. Afzal H. Choudhury, Engr. Abdul Mannan, Engr. Ataur Rahman and Engineer Eklimur Reza from Engineers 66 Trust Fund.

Engineer Afzal Choudhury, Chairman of the Trust Fund expressed his gratitude to the teachers for embarking on the training program to benefit rural youth. Engr. Abdul Mannan presented the background of the venture as an undertaking to give something back to the society. Professor Dara Shamsuddin, Board member of VAB called upon the participants to take full benefit of the training program so that they can train the students well.

Dr. Haroonur Rashid, Chairman of VAB Trust commended the Foundation and the teachers, and formally declared the training program open.

Development of English Language Skills in Rural High Schools

Six young academics from four universities had a Discussion Meeting with the Country Director at VAB office on February 23, 2019 on:  Development of English Language Skills   in Rural High Schools.

The three-hour meeting was attended by Ms. Shampa Iftekhar and Fatema Begum Laboni from Daffodils University, Farhana Islm and Apala Biswas from East West Univesity, Habiba Akter Shammi of Notre Dame University and Dr. M. Al Amin of Brac University.

There was great enthusiasm and interest of all the participants in all the elements of VAB English Skill program for rural high school students. The key outcomes are as follows:

1.       Specific suggestions were made to improve upon the Draft Manual prepared by VAB.

2.    To promote the listening and speaking skills, a pilot scheme was chosen. Each member present will adopt three high school students for telephone conversation. The conversation will be recorded and improvement over time analyzed. This could lead to interesting outcome and could be a joint research endeavor.

3.   The members agreed to explore possibility of research project on each of the elements of English Language Skill: Vocabulary, Pronunciation and Spelling, Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing.

4.     The Country Director was invited to make presentation at the universities to draw more support and get student volunteers to work voluntarily at no cost to VAB.

5.      VAB will cooperate with a research project to be undertaken by one of the participants to identify the problems faced by teachers in implementing the conversational style of English curriculum in high schools and resolve them.

6.   The members decided to form an Email Group to remain active with interaction among them.The Country Director expressed great satisfaction that the purpose of the meeting was fully met. He also expressed profound thanks, appreciation and gratitude to the young academics for their enthusiasm, interest and desire to join VAB to help change the life opportunities of the rural children.

 Country Director visits Agami Foundation office at Dhaka

                                                       VAB Country Director visits Agami Foundation office at Dhaka

On invitation from Agami Foundation, Professor Dr. Jasimuz Zaman, Country Director of VAB visited the office of Agami Foundation accompanied by Mr. Abul Kalam Azad, Senior Program Officer of VAB on February 11, 2019. He had an in depth discussion with Ms. Nafisa Khanam, Executive Director of Agami Foundation and Eng. Dilruba, Director of Agami Foundation Khan Academy project. Mr. Marjuk Ahmed, Deputy Program Director, Khan Academy (Bangla) and Mr. Fazley Rabbi, Program Manager, Agami Foundation were also present.

Dr. Jasimuz Zaan briefly presented the Quality Education program of VAB. Ms. Nafisa Khanam Agami work with different schools. Ms. Dilruba Chowdhury outlined the scope and current status of the Khan Academy program for conversion of Khan Academy contents into Bangladesh Math curriculum in High Schools.

Engr. Dilruba Chowdhury proposed that Agami Foundation would take up a number of schools (about 5) under its own program. Dr. Jasimuz Zaman suggested that once the results are promising, VAB may enter into a partnership for inducting more schools.

The access of the schools to the Khan Academy contents will enrich the VAB program for quality education in Math. The modalities of executing the program will be taken up between Mr. Marjuk Ahmed of Agami and Mr. Abul Kalam Azad of VAB.

The meeting ended with a positive note of continued collaboration and a tour of the office facilities of Agami Foundation.

 VAB works with BEF and BSTQM

VAB hosted a three-day workshop conducted by Bangladesh Ethics Foundation (BEF) and Bangladesh Society for Total Quality Management (BSTQM) on the concepts and methodology of Quality as an essential element of every process in education and life. Headmaster and School Management Committee Chairman of 17 schools at Bhangura Upazila in Pabna district took part on Jan 19 -21, 2019. A special feature of the program was to amalgamate the quality education program of VAB incorporating ethics and morality with the Quality Circle concept of Quality Management with the VAB Group Method of Learning-Teaching. It’s a grand scheme of putting together ideas, concepts and actions of three entities within a single framework, effectively steered by Engr. Khairul Bashar representing both BEF and BSTM

The workshop was followed by a meeting of the management of BEF and BSTQM with the country Director and the VAB personnel. The meeting was on February 11, 2019 at the conference room of SEL, a reputed construction company led by Engr. Abdul Awal, former chair of both BEF and BSTM.  The members present shared their activities and experiences in their work.

The Management of both BEF and BSTQM agreed that the rural schools under VAB program would provide a promising opportunity for the successful application of their concepts and goals.

It was decided that VAB would draw up a proposal of joint venture for the schools at Bhangura. VAB was also asked to draw up a separate scheme for a cluster of schools in Khulna.

A meeting of a working group from the three organizations would finalize the program with provision for budget needs.

VAB Retreat on Its Work and Future Sustainability

VAB is dedicated to quality high school education in rural Bangladesh. It started working with rural schools in 2000, by giving scholarships to 20 students in 10 schools. Since then, in nearly two decades of work, VAB has been learning extensively about the needs of rural students and schools. At the same time, it has been discovering hitherto untapped advantages of rural Bangladesh that can be used to improve quality of education. VAB has been doing just that -- developing and executing programs addressing the needs, refining those programs to increase their effectiveness and reducing their costs, and most importantly, promoting achievement of quality education in rural Bangladesh.

The leaders of VAB thought it was high time to do a brainstorming exercise for the purpose of reviewing critical challenges facing VAB today and formulating strategies and actionable measures for a future of long-term success and sustainability. The Retreat in Deer Park, NY on August 5, 2018 was a seminal VAB event organized for that purpose.
 An Exemplary Contribution by two High School Students

Zarmeen Hasan and Tommy Skripps of Acton-Boxborough Regional High School near Boston, Massachusetts, USA took up their senior High School project on the “Role of VAB in changing the life opportunities of  rural students in Bangladesh through Quality Education”. They made a study of VAB work and its impact on the disadvantaged children, raised awareness among their peers and conducted fund raisers for the cause of these children. They raised $2165.00 in fund raising and donated the money to VAB.

They both are at university now to pursue their career goals. Both expressed strong desire to be in Bangladesh and visit a few of the schools sometime in the future.

We extend thanks and deep appreciation to Zarmeen and Tommy for their inspirational work.

VAB Contribution makes stunning results

Mr. Aminul Karim, coordinator of VAB Chicago, Illinois, USA branch of VAB, donated three pieces of a computer device, Raspberry Pi, to Bangladesh Open Source Network (BDOSN), a non-profit voluntary organization, a close partner of VAB in Math Olympiad program in 2017. BDOSN, with the dynamic and innovative leadership of Engr. Munir Hasan, conducted a series of training of High School students using the devices, Arduino and Raspberry Pi.

The year-long activities with a series of training allowed BDOSN to send a delegate of eight students to compete in the 20th International Robot Olympiad at Manila in the Philippines. 800 participants from 15 countries took part.

“Robo Tigers” group with Kazi Mustahid Labib and Tafsir Tahreem of Chittagong Grammar School (Dhaka) and Meher Mahmud of Maple Leaf International School (Dhaka) obtained Gold Medal at the Creative Junior Group.

Congratulations to the winners and appreciation to BDOSN for making effective use of the devices.

 Launching of Employable Skill Development Program

 “Engineers ’66 Employable Computer Skill Development Program” was launched on December 5, between Engineers 66 Foundation and VAB to promote self-employment and job opportunities for the rural students in computer applications. The program will train 12 teachers from twelve different high schools and 60 students in groups of fifteen in four of the selected schools. Students at SSC level who dropped out before or who cannot afford to go to colleges because of poverty or other reasons and who have a desire to seek vocational skills for income generation will preferably be selected.

President of Engineers ’66 Foundation, Mr. Afzal Husain Choudhury and Professor Jasimuz Zaman, Country Director of VAB, signed the MoU and Agreement on behalf of their respective organizations. Mr. M. A. Mannan, Treasurer of ’66 Foundation Trust, handed over the check to the Country Director of VAB for implementation of the project.

Engr. Afzal Choudhury and other members of the Foundation mentioned that Engineers ’66 Foundation decided to form a Trust to engage into useful social enterprise in addition to the usual fellowship program among the alumni. They expressed their satisfaction that they could identify a useful educational cum income generation capacity building program with VAB for the rural children in computer skills development.

VAB Chairman, National Professor Jamilur Reza Choudhury was present as the Chief Guest. The event was also attended by Dr. Haroonur Rashid, Chairman, VAB Trust, Engr. Eklimur Reza, Secretary ’66 Foundation, Engr. Mukhlesur Rahman, Vice President, ’66 Foundation, Engr. Ataur Rahman Chaudhury, Membership and Fellowship Secretary, ’66 Foundation and Messrs. Kh. Asraful Islam, Alim Khan and Abul Kalam Azafd from VAB.

Professor Jamilur Reza Choudhury, Dr. Haroonur Rashid and Professor Jasimuz Zaman  all expressed great appreciation to Engineers ’66 Foundation for their noble and useful venture. They congratulated the Foundation for embarking on service for the disadvantaged rural children and called for continued cooperation. They expressed the hope that all other alumni groups at BUET will be inspired to enter into similar pursuit.

At the same event, Mr. A. K.  Asadullah, a resident of Australia and a 1963 BUET alumnus, made a contribution of 50,000.00 taka for promotion of co-curricular activities of the rural students.

Daughter receives Best Student Award from School - Mother is a brick field worker 
The mother, Hafeeza Khatoon, is the only income-earner in the family. She works as a day laborer in a brick field, carrying bricks from the store room to the construction site. The mother, the daughter and the grandmother live in a hut which goes under inches of water every monsoon season. The daughter, Tajmira, topped the list all through primary school. She got a talent scholarship from the Government that pays tuition only. The Government also gives textbooks free. Still, when entering high school, Tajmira didn’t know what to do – they can’t even afford two meals a day, where would they find money for other things she’ll need when she goes to high school – general school fees, stationery, school dress, shoes, etc? It so happened, VAB was working with the school in her village. Through the Headmaster, she met the VAB official who was visiting the school to check how things were going. The VAB official got all the info from her, came back to Dhaka, started contacting some VAB Patrons. An expatriate Bangladeshi in Australia, Mrs. Zobeda Rahman, came through with a scholarship for Tajmira that covers all her high school costs. … In the picture, Tajmira, now a 7th Grader, is taking the best student’s award from the school’s Headmaster. Her mother was working in the brickfield at that time.
Forging ahead with English Language Skills Program among Rural Students

VAB has planned for a number of training programs for students and Teachers of High Schools in rural Bangladesh. Mr. Amin Rahman, a freelance linguist from Rotary Club, Wheeler Hills, Victoria, Australia will conduct the training.

Two day English training for students in Satkhira on January 11-13, 2019

Four day Training of Trainers (TOT) in Dhaka on January 22-25, 2019

Three day Training of English Teachers (TET) in Dhaka on January 27-29, 2019

Two day English training for students in Nilphamary on January 31 & Feb 01, 2019

Two day English training for students in Pabna on  February 15-16, 2019

 A Seventh Grader at Houston parts with her cash gift for children in schools

A seventh grader at Houston, Texas got a cash gift of $50.00 for her birthday to buy something for her. Instead, she donated the sum to VAB for helping the education of the rural children of Bangladesh.