Nurul Islam Nahid, MP
Minister, Ministry of Education
A Short Life History
Nurul Islam Nahid was born on 5 July 1945 at villiage: Kasba, Upazilla: Bianibazar in Sylhet District. He had his schooling in Kasba Primary School, Bianibazar Panchokhondo Hargobindo High School; and then studied in Sylhet MC College and Dhaka University.
He possesses a long political life. As an honest, sincere and dedicated leader, he has already won much appreciation from the people from all walks of life. Mr. Nahid emerges as one of the actively distinguished political leaders who gleam with the glorious tradition and continuance of students’ movement in the 1960s, still contributing a lot to present politics. With a vision to emancipate people from political, socio-economic bondage, he embraced political, social movements and struggle as the main occupation. Still being one of those, he remains associated with the people with tireless strength of resolution.
As a dynamic activist he involved his life of struggle directly in the anti-Ayub movement during martial rule in the early 1960s when he was a student of MC College. As one of the active activists and organizers involved in the anti-martial rule he participated in the procession and movement occurred first in Sylhet against the rule. Later on, in the national level, the series of movements he strongly participated include anti-martial, anti-autocratic rule movement during the 1960s, movements for demanding education and rights, non-communal spirit, democracy and national rights, mass revolution in 1969 based on 6 & 11 points, great liberation war in 1971. Also, as an eminent student leader as well as member of all party students’ movement council he was actively present in the front position of all movements and struggles. Since the early 1960s to liberation war, he demonstrated the leading roles in the then glorious students’ movements. The sincere dedication he attached to students politics as an active activist gifted him an auspicious opportunity to win the company and affection of Bangabandu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of the nation.
An organizer and freedom fighter in liberation war and the president of ‘Students’ Union’, the largest students’ organization of the time, he took a dynamic role to arrange a combined guerilla force under Students’ Union. During liberation war in 1971, with a view to seeking cooperation he met the leaders of the highest level of Indian Govt. in Delhi and achieved much success. He developed a guerrilla force combined with the Students’ Union and NAP-CPB. On behalf of the allied forces formed by these three organizations, he successfully carried out the responsibilities to gain training, weapons and other assistance from the Indian Govt. and to keep it continuing to the end.
On 6 May 1971 in Delhi, he presented the brutal picture of mass killing and our struggling resistance in a press conference. The media representatives of all countries were present in the conference and his message was widely broadcast throughout the world. After the liberation war started, it was the first press conference held by any leader of Bangladesh that focused the overall picture of the war detailing the mass killing and devastation mercilessly committed by Pakistani military forces. This very press conference moved the conscience of the whole world effectively.
On 10 May 1971, he sent appealing letters focusing the whole circumstances, our struggle for independence, background of liberation war to all organizations including the international Union of Students (IUS) and the World Federation of Youth (WFDY), all international Students’ and Youth organizations of the world to provide Bangladesh with immediate supports and cooperation. Then the world organizations of students and youths started taking initiatives to support our independence and liberation war.
After Bangladesh gained independence, Mr. Nahid, the then president of the Students’ Union in collaboration with Mujahedul Islam Selim, the then general secretary of the same organization demonstrated their unified leadership to form ‘Students’ Brigades’ to start on reformative and creative missions in all sectors of country. Under their able leadership, the ‘Students’ Union’ emerged as the highest organization in an independent country. That year saw the enormous victory of the Students’ Union in the students’ Council elections in the most colleges and universities.
From 9 to 14 April 1972, the 13th conference of the Students’ Union was held in Swarawardi Uddyan. In the history of students’ movement of Bangladesh, this was the 1st conference ever held in a vast degree amid festive mood and variety. All the ministers of the cabinet of independent Bangladesh along with the foreign ambassadors, leaders and heads of the society, secretary general of the IUS and representatives of 19 world organizations of students and youths attended the conference.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was the chief guest while Nurul Islam Nahid was the president in this conference. In presence of Bangabandhu, he urged all students’ organizations to come into one integrated single organization. In consideration of the historic necessity his bold declaration to abolish his own organization made a unique impression upon all. He spoke on the occasion conveying the message that the defeated forces of the independence and liberation war were still active to conspire. If not uprooted fully, they would cause a great danger to the nation resulting in frustrating the dreams and aspirations of liberation war. The experience taken from the world history says that it is very hard to achieve freedom, but much harder & complex it is to really defend the freedom as well as make it meaningful for the people. The beaten enemies will never compromise with their defeat. Patronized by the imperialistic and reactionary forces, equipped with newly introduced strategy and trained in exploiting our diverse flaws & limitations, they must be ferociously mad to demolish victory and all achievement of the nation mercilessly. So to gain final victory, to reach same goal, we all need to be united, being regenerated with the spirit of liberation war. Time essentially demands now the historic unity to make the liberty momentous amid this crucially tough struggle. My urge for unity should not be deemed a weak point; rather it emerges out of the patriotic feeling of our party. [ The Daily Sangbad, 10th April 1972]
In the conference graced by Bangabandhu as the chief guest, also on other occasions, Bangabandhu appreciated the roles played by Nahid, the president & Selim, the general Secretary of Students Union along with other leaders-activists and termed Nahid’s ‘call for unity as historic’.
Before being the elected president of Students Union in 1970, Nurul Islam Nahid also took position as the general secretary and organizing secretary of this large organization. Before that he was elected organizing secretary and general secretary twice of Students’ Union, and also an elected member of central council, Sylhet. In school life he involved himself in matters to meet the demands of students, in sports and cultural programmes, etc. As a result, his involvement in manifold roles got him elected school captain without a contest in Panchokhondo Hargobindo High School. Since then, during martial regime, he occupied himself in students secret movements & organizations, which had been declared banned already. He was elected twice consecutively in MC College Students Council, Sylhet.
While a student of class IX in 1959, he was elected general secretary of Children-Youths’ Social, Cultural Organization situated at his own village Kasba. He was the principal founder & general secretary of Bianibazar Social Welfare Association established in 1961. In the sports specially in volleyball, swimming, high jump, long jump competitions held in the then greater Sylhet district, he displayed his noticeable success.
As a founder president of Bangladesh Youth Union, an organization for the young established in 1976, he made a valuable contribution towards organizing and inspiring the young force infused with new spirit, innovative ideas and passion for building organizations among them.
During historic movements and struggles in the early 1990s to revive the ideals and spirit of liberation war, as one of 7 member steering committee of ‘Ghatok Dalal Nirmul Jatiyo Samonnoy Committee”(National Coordination Committee for annihilating Killers and collaborators) led by Jahanara Imam, mother of the martyrs demanding the trial of the anti-liberation forces, collaborators, killers and war-criminals, he played an actively significant role to organize the movements and ‘People’s Court’.
He also worked as the co-convener of ‘All Party Communal Harmony preservation Committee’ led by Sheikh Hasina ,the convener and mobilized by the allied forces including non-communal political parties, students, labourers, social and cultural organizations to resist communalism and safeguard the harmony when Bangladesh saw a communal crisis following the Babri Mosque incident in India in 1993.
Elected an eminent secretary of CPB in 1973, he worked in the capacity of an organizing secretary of the party for a long time. Besides, he worked as the ideal education and international affairs secretary of the party. He was elected general secretary of CPB in 1991. Mr. Nahid together with most central committee members undertook essential initiatives to reform and transform CPB being acceptable to the people in view of the national traditions, challenging reality and changed scenario of Bangladesh & Society. Later, considering the quality change occurred in the national and international context, Nurul Islam Nahid along with other members joined Bangladesh Awami League in 1993. At present, he has been entrusted with the portfolio of the Hon’ble Education Minister, the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh.
He took the special lead in all movements and struggles for democracy and for the interests of working class of Bangladesh. A distinguished leader of the people’s movements against autocratic rule in the 1990s, he worked as the vital member, also an interim coordinator of the liaison committee of allies.
He was elected MP from Golapganj & Bianibazar Upazilla (Sylhet-6) in 1996-2001 and 2008. During his term in the national parliament, he was elected president of Education Ministry Affairs Permanent Committee. In addition, he was the member of Foreign Ministry Affairs Parliamentary Permanent Committee as well as Govt. Accounts Affairs Permanent Committee. An MP, on behalf of the National Parliament, he was nominated representative member of National Primary & Mass Education Council, Jahangirnagar University Senate, National Children Council, Children’s Welfare Trust, National Press Council, etc. He became the 1st president of the International Mother Language Institute Governing Board & Prime Minister Education Trust Governing Council.
While an MP, he made a tremendous development in all sectors of Golapganj & Bianibazar, his own constitution. In people’s exclamation ‘What an astonishing development it is !’ It did never happen in the last 50 years.’’ As the Chairman of the Education Ministry Affairs Parliamentary Permanent Committee, his huge contribution to education in Sylhet is beyond imagination. Very resolutely he often voiced the problems & demands of his own constitution and Sylhet division in the parliament; and accordingly ventured on persistent initiatives until those were fruitfully fulfilled. He has already been recognized countrywide as a distinguished parliamentarian for the celebrated roles he has taken in the parliament since then.
He always voiced the agenda and demands to be materialized for the Sylhet district including the backwardness in education, discrimination of teachers in primary schools of Sylhet division for half a century. His outstanding achievements, while he was the chairman of Education Ministry Affairs Parliamentary Permanent Committee, include establishing Sylhet Education Board, 02 posts for primary & secondary deputy directors, teachers’ training college, upgrading the nationally equivalent posts of primary schools into 04 instead of 02 posts introduced in the British regime and making infrastructural development in educational sector, etc.
In the mean time, two books written by him have been published in the 1980s. Subsequently, more books and essays including ‘Bangalee Rukhe Darao’(Bangalee, stand firm to resist), ‘Ideals, Visions and Struggles of Bangabandhu’(2007), ‘Struggle for the Restoration of Healthy Political Trend’ and ‘ Education Policy & Other issues’ have been published in the Ekushey book fair’ (2009). Moreover, hundreds of his analytically political, economic, social articles are published in different magazines and newspapers. Recurrently he writes columns in the national dailies & weeklies.
He is a life-member of Dhaka University Alumni Association plus ‘Bangladesh Film Centre’; also one of the trusty members of ‘Moni Singh-Forhad Memorial Trust.’
As a representative of students, he participated in the 10th Congress of International Union of Students (IUS) held in the then Czech Slovakia (presently Bratislava, capital of Slovakia) in Europe in1971. He was also appointed a member of IUS executive committee. Mention may be made here, it was he who ,first ever in Pakistan, as a representative attended such an international conference.
In this largest International Conference of World Students’ Representatives, during a special transition of our struggles for independence and freedom, he presented the history of movements for independence of Bengali nation and urged all to render support to Bangladesh struggles for independence. Following the initiatives taken by him, a proposal was accepted in the conference supporting people’s struggle. Later on, during liberation war it favored to win the support of international students’ community.
Before he returned Dhaka, he seized the opportunity, while passing the busy week long moment in Moscow, the capital of Soviet Union . He took manifold initiatives and urged the top leaders of students’ youth organization plus the important persons of the Soviet Union Party & State to consider Bangladesh situation and to provide Bangladesh with necessary support & cooperation in view of the emerging issues, justification and legitimacy for the independence & struggle and the nation’s unyielding position that he resolutely affirmed there. The fruitful initiatives plus action throughout the week played by Nurul Islam Nahid were done according to the request from CPB. This brilliant enterprise undertaken just before a month of liberation war to begin occupied a significant position in history.
To attend different international conferences, seminars and programmes he has visited many countries including Soviet Union (Russia,Ukraine, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania], United States, France, Malaysia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Poland, Hungary, Czech Slovakia, Romania, Japan, Switzerland, Sweden, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and more.
In 1998, as a member of Bangladesh delegates, he attended the 53rd UN general conference and delivered his speech on Palestine & Middle East issues. The speech he made in the 34th (2009) & 35th (2011) in the General Conference of UNESCO earned special praise and support. He has been selected member of the UNESCO Executive Board in 2009 and also for the next term,.
Mr. Nahid, while an Education Minister (2008-2014), has made a wonderfully historic reforms and epoch-making quality change in education. Under his direct initiative, for the first time in Bangladesh, the National Education Policy, 2010 has been formulated, unanimously approved in the parliament and well received by the people from all walks of life. The implementation of the policy is going on as well.In education sector, a vast project has been undertaken to give the young generation of our country world class education, the highest skills in modern, knowledge, science and technology. They will be developed into worthy human beings infused with the spirit of liberation war, imbued with moral values, guided with the sense of accountability for mankind and love for country. Besides, astonishing achievements in education in matters of taking new initiatives, enforcing discipline & order, rules & regulations for admission, commencing classes timely, taking public exams on scheduled days, publishing results in 60 days, introducing creative question methods, multi-media classrooms, using information technology, facilitating teachers’ training programs have already received appreciation as well as world recognition & prestige.
Besides being a Education Minister, Nurul Islam Nahid also worked as Hon’ble Minister, Ministry of Primary and Mass Education in 2009. As Hon’ble cabinet minister of all party government, during 2013-2014 – a challenging time for education, he was the minister of both ministry of education & Ministry of Primary and Mass Education. During hard times and unusual circumstances, when the nation confronted the destructive and terrorist activities committed by the opposition party, he made the impossible possible by conducting exams & publishing results timely and distributing 29 crore 96 lac 75 thousands 938 textbooks to 3 crore 73 lac 36 thousand 672 primary, secondary, madrasha and technical students. Such a glowing example to distribute this tremendously vast number of books is seen nowhere in the world.
For the extraordinary role and contribution made in education, Mr. Nahid was termed ‘‘harbinger of change’. In the World Education Congress’2012 , he was awarded the World Education Congress Global Award for his outstanding contribution to education.
The honestly simple life Mr. Nahid leads in his personal life has proved an ‘exemplary exception’ to all in current politics. Mrs. Zohra Zesmin, wife of Nurul Islam Nahid is a retired govt. officer. He is blessed with two daughters: Nadia Nandita Islam teaching in Dhaka University and Nazia Samanta Islam working in a private organization.