“Teachers are the greatest motivators of a student. If the teachers motivate the students about their life, career and future, they will never fall behind.”
The Earth of Autograph: We have known from our teachers that the VC of our university is the youngest among the VCs in Bangladesh. Our heartfelt congratulations to you. What was your motivation behind this great achievement?
Md. Qumruzzaman Chowdhury: Thank you. What you’ve heard is true according to the recent UGC statistic. I believe that there is no straight forward way towards success. To achieve his desired goal a man has to work hard and in the right way. By right way I mean you have to work in a way that is honest and true. If you have an honest intention, God will surely help you to achieve the goal.
The Earth of Autograph: Sir, you have been working in the highest educational institution in Sylhet. You have a lot of experience here. What do you feel about the problems and possibilities of the education sector of Sylhet?
Md. Qumruzzaman Chowdhury: Sylhet is the North-Eastern region of Bangladesh. I have worked in Shah Jalal University since 2001, hence I have a pretty good idea about Sylhet. You’ve asked me two questions about the education system of Sylhet, which are its problems and possibilities. If I judge by the percentage, Sylhet is still behind many regions of Bangladesh in education sector. There are many factors behind it. But as far as I have seen in these 15 years that things are changing. Nowadays working people are trying to get themselves educated, which I think it is a good sign and indicates its future possibility.
The Earth of Autograph: Sir, as you know that many people of Sylhet live abroad. Most of them migrate to different countries without taking higher education. Do you think that not having enough jobs (opportunities) here is the reason for them leaving Bangladesh, or these are motivated otherwise?
Md. Qumruzzaman Chowdhury: Compared to all the regions of Bangladesh, people of Sylhet go abroad the most. Many of them are not skilled enough. I don’t think lack of job opportunities is the reason behind it. Every area has its own culture and it has become a custom of Sylhet for many years that people here immigrate to different countries never the less. Job market in Bangladesh is very competitive. Many of them don’t study upto the level which is required to compete in the job market. So after completing high school or college, they try to migrate to other countries to have a better life. Now, what I think is that if they take proper education and what I would emphasize upon is technical knowledge. If they make themselves skilled before leaving Bangladesh they will have better income over all and it will benefit them and their family along with bringing remittance to the country.
The Earth of Autograph: How do you think we can solve this problem?
Md. Qumruzzaman Chowdhury: Going abroad is not a problem. Ours is a small country, in its small economy it is not possible to provide everyone a job, so outsourcing is beneficial to us. But the problem here is the lack of skill. For example, if a person, before going to another country learns its language, it will be easy for him to get a job there. Or he/she can take other professional courses to develop his/her skills. If he has a degree he will get job easily and make much more income than he would have done without a degree. At this point, the government of Bangladesh can extend the opportunities of technical education which will be beneficial in the job market. If the people make themselve skilled and then leave for abroad there won’t be any problem and at the same time the country will be benefitted.
The Earth of Autograph: There are many public and private college- universities in Sylhet. What is your opinion regarding their advancement?
Md. Qumruzzaman Chowdhury: If we talk about the greater Sylhet region, there are many colleges and universities here. There are four districts in Sylhet division. But the universities are all situated in Sylhet district. The 2 public universities, engineering college and the private universities are in Sylhet. Sometime the students from other districts are falling behind because of that, and to achieve higher education they have to come to Sylhet. Another problem is the lack of quality teachers in primary schools. The number of schools and colleges are increasing but we’re contracted not having enough quality teachers. It is a not contracted problem, because without good teachers it is not possible to ensure quality education for students.
The Earth of Autograph: What steps do you think can be taken to make people interested in teaching in primary schools?
Md. Qumruzzaman Chowdhury: The education structure of Bangladesh is of three parts- primary, secondary and tertiary. Primary level is the foundation of our education. Students start from here, and this is the time that motivates them to continue to other levels. It is a teacher’s duty to create this motivation. To make teaching profession more interesting it is important to take steps and as far as I know Bangladesh government has already taken several steps. Government is providing training to the teachers and also has increased their salary. So I think this situation is not going to last for long. And Sylhet, like other areas of Bangladesh is going to prosper in education sector, for which people’s cooperation is a must.
The Earth of Autograph: The Private Universities in Sylhet are providing higher education to many students. What is your opinion about it?
Md. Qumruzzaman Chowdhury: Chances of getting higher education in Bangladesh is still comparatively low. This is why we are having private universities growing parallel with public universities. The duty of these universities is to create skilled and competent graduates. Before the 90s, the students who couldn’t attend public universities went abroad, to our neighboring country, and other countries to study. But after the 90s the private universities started to form parallelly and now have increased in numbers. The government of Bangladesh wants to make sure that all the universities are providing quality education and creating skilled graduates. Although not all the universities are same and not all of them are emphasizing on providing quality education; However, Leading University is always determined to create skilled graduates. We work on making sure that whatever discipline the student is from, he or she will have proper knowledge on that discipline. Many alumni of our university are working in better position than the students of other universities. That clearly indicates our quality.
The Earth of Autograph: Many people believe that our education system has become certificate oriented. How do you comment about it? How do you see that?
Md. Qumruzzaman Chowdhury: It is true that the increasing number of universities and colleges are helpful for us because our country has a large number of population. But if they do not provide quality education then after four years a student will get certificate but the certificate hasn’t any implication. For example, if a student of English doesn’t meet the communication skills he is supposed to have after four years of university education, what would be the use of the certificates (going to do to) him? This is why we emphasise upon skill development. We are trying to make a student expert on every level of the subject he is studying. For example, if a student of CSE department doesn’t know innovative programming, software development and other necessary things, he is going to get a certificate which is of no use. This certificate is a burden to him and also for the country. That is why, it is the moral as well as professional duty of the universities and colleges to make sure their graduates have relevant skill for career development. If they have the skill there won’t be any problem in job interviews and also they won’t feel nervous. On the other hand, if they don’t have necessary skill and still get the job they won’t be able to do the job properly. This is why current government and UGC is very strict in this matter that the universities should produce skilled graduates. To make the goal of Vision 2021 successful we need skilled graduates. In this reson I would say Leading University is promised to do that, and we are doing so, through providing quality education.
The Earth of Autograph: There are many Qwami Madrasas in Sylhet. Their education system and syllabus are different from other institutions. Because of that many of their students don’t get mainstream job after completing education. What is your outlook in this matter?
Md. Qumruzzaman Chowdhury: There have been many discussions about Qwami Madrasas in media. Not only in Sylhet, there are many Qwami Madrasas in Bangladesh. As you said they don’t get any jobs and most of them, after graduation, work in mosques and madrasas. In today’s world, it is very important to have communication skills and also some basic knowledge on IT sector. The syllabus of Qwami madrasas is not designed accordingly. The curriculum we follow in the universities are the result of many skilled professionals. Which is not the case in Qwami Madrasas. There is another important issue. For instance, these madrasas teach Arabic, but most of their students don’t learn Arabic language properly. They only read and memorize religious book without understanding, which most of us do too.
The Earth of Autograph: Many people remark that the tuition fees are excessive high in private universities. Because of that, many students, despite having the intention, cannot study there. Do you think it is the fact?
Md. Qumruzzaman Chowdhury: Leading University has started in 2002. The tuition fees here have increased approximately 20% since then, which is not a big amount. And this is also adapt with the like of the essential. Besides that, we offer a huge number of scholarship and tuition fees waiver. Also the salary of teachers, officers and other staffs have been increased to more than double of 2002. Compared to that, our tuition fee is quite reasonable. During the 90s only the students of higher class families could study in private universities. But now we have in our university, student from middle and lower middle class families. Many disadvantageous students also come to us, whom we offer 100% waiver, if they are meritorious. In Leading University we have students from higher class to lower class. I personally know many students who are from lower middle class families. It is true that some universities do take a huge amount of money as tuition fee, but we don’t have this attitude in Leading University.
The Earth of Autograph: Recently we have seen that some of the students from private universities have involved themselves in criminal activities. What is your opinion about it?
Md. Qumruzzaman Chowdhury: According to the statistics those students are not only from private universities but also of public universities and madrasas. This is happening because of some faults in our education system. Those students do not have clear idea about what they are doing. Terrorism is a global issue. Some people are taking advantages of the students who don’t have in-depth understanding. They misguide them to the wrong path and involve them in criminal activities. Some people, who want to create chaos in the society through terrorism, are behind this.
The Earth of Autograph: What is the solution to this problem?
Md. Qumruzzaman Chowdhury: This is not only the problem of the government, it is also a social problem. The way it was trying to rise in our country, with the people and government of Bangladesh working together we were able to stop it. As a private university, we are working together with government and we are trying to find out the root cause why students are getting themselves involved in this type of crime. We have organized seminars to raise awareness against the dark side of terrorism. We have instructed our teachers to motivate the students to do good works. We are keeping them busy with extra-curricular activities. Alongside that, we are monitoring our students’ activities very closely.
The Earth of Autograph: Some people think that teachers’ lack of patriotism and negligence over society is the main reason for the students getting involved in terrorism. What do you feel?
Md. Qumruzzaman Chowdhury: Well, as I said teachers are the greatest motivators of a student. If the teachers motivate the students about their life, career and future, they will sarge to the haven on of success. As it is true that some students are getting involved in terrorism there is definitely a reason behind it. Everyone has some responsibility over their country, especially teachers. In our university, we instructed our teacher to provide proper guideline to the students towards their career and future. A teacher can guide a student to the positive way of life, and also sometimes they can misguide the students. Therefore we also monitor our faculty members. It is the duty of the government, teachers, students, officials and everyone of the society to make sure that this type of incidents don’t take place any more.
The Earth of Autograph: What is your view about student politics?
Md. Qumruzzaman Chowdhury: Student politics has been an enlightening phase of Bangladesh from the beginning. But recently some people are using it as a shield for their bad works. Politicians should identify those people and ban them.
The Earth of Autograph: Sir, we all know that Leading University does not allow student politics. But some people are using Leading University’s name on placard and banner of political parties. How do you view the fact?
Md. Qumruzzaman Chowdhury: Our university is totally politics free and there is no such permission from the university authority to use its name on placards and banners. If any student is reported doing such things he/she will be punished accordingly. Leading University does not permit student politics and university authority will take action against those who break the law.
The Earth of Autograph: Sir, was there any dream from your childhood that will inspire us in the future?
Md. Qumruzzaman Chowdhury: Everyone has a dream about their future. I had a dream to work in university after completing my graduation. If by any chance that does not happen I wanted to work in the administration sector of government. Fortunately after completing graduation I had started working as faculty in Shah Jalal University of Science and Technology in 2001.
The Earth of Autograph: Is there any memorable event from your childhood that can inspire us?
Md. Qumruzzaman Chowdhury: One lesson I have learnt from my advisors and teachers is that “work locally, think globally”. That’s why I should do my work/task in such a way not to harm others or society or country. This is the lesson I learnt from my mentors.
The Earth of Autograph: Is there any advice you would like to the young generation for the future?
Md. Qumruzzaman Chowdhury: I only have one advice for the young generation. We live only one life. If you want to spend this life happily and want to work for the goodness of world and the country, then you will have to figure out the positives of life and have the mentality to commit yourselves for the welfare of society and the world.
The Earth of Autograph: What is your future plan regarding Leading University?
Md. Qumruzzaman Chowdhury: Leading University will be the leader in academic excellence, integrity, education quality, norms, promise and extra-curricular activities.
The Earth of Autograph: Sir, is there any advice for the readers of The Earth of Autograph?
Md. Qumruzzaman Chowdhury: I wish for the success of those who are involved in the publishing of this magazine. I hope this magazine will get acclamation and inspiration from the readers.
The Earth of Autograph: Sir, thanks for giving us your valuable time.
Md. Qumruzzaman Chowdhury: Thanks to you too.
Professor Dr. Md. Qumruzzaman Chowdhury has joined as the Vice-Chancellor of Leading University on 01 March 2016. He joined Shahjalal University of Science and Technology as a Lecturer of Department of Forestry and Environmental Science in 2001. Later he got the post of Assistant Proctor, Proctor, Head of the Department, Dean of the Faculty and other administrative posts. In 2006 he has joined as a research trainee of Wood Biology and Xylarium, at Royal Museum for Central Africa in Belgium. He has passed SSC from Sompara High School in 1st division in 1992, HSC in 1st division in 1994, received B.Sc. degree from the Department of Forestry and Wood Biology of Khulna University and M.Sc. from Wageningen University, Netherlands. He completed his PH.D. at Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Japan on Forest and Wood Science. He has worked as a postdoctoral Researcher of Wood Biology and Xylarium, at Royal Museum for Central Africa in Belgium from 2013-15. Dr. Qumruzzaman has around 25 publications in several peer reviewed scientific journals in his career of 16 years. He has served on several conference and seminar home and abroad. Professor Dr. Md. Qumruzzaman Chowdhury was born in the village Madhabpur situated in the District of Noakhali, in 1977. His father Md. Fazlul Karim Chowdhury and his mother Mrs. Selina Karim Chowdhury have two sons and four daughters, among whom Dr. Qumuruzzaman is the eldest.
This interview is taken by Abdul Kadir Jibon (Editor), Rezowana Ahmed Sami and Syeda Mubasshira Rahman Nabila (Sub-Editors), The Earth of Autograph.