Liton Hossain hails from the village of Chatua, in Natore, Bangladesh. He was one of the first students to receive a Medhabikash scholarship for his higher secondary certificate (HSC) studies. Liton went on to receive the scholarship again for his undergraduate degree, which he completed from Khulna University of Engineering and Technology in 2012. He is now completing a master’s in electrical and electronic engineering at University Teknikal Malaysia Melaka in Malaysia with a full scholarship. In his own words, Liton talks about overcoming his struggles and how his life changed after receiving a BRAC Medhabikash scholarship:
I started school at the age of four without any books or school supplies. I remember passing my final exams of classes 3 and 4, securing second and first places in the merit lists. The joy I took in learning did not last long. Soon I had to join my elder brothers to work as a day labourer. I toiled in the fields for five months from January to May and attended school for the remaining seven months. It inevitably affected my performance; the first position that I had previously held in class plunged to the tenth in class 5 final exam.
I grew up with nine brothers and three sisters along with my parents that included my father, mother and step-mother. We were not a rich family, and the family crisis that we found ourselves in right after I passed class 5 was bad enough to not only end my education but also displace us from my father’s house. My mother, my siblings and I moved into my maternal grandfather’s house. I worked long hours as a day labourer to support my family. I would remember my happy school days every time I walked past my school. One night I told my mother that I wanted to go back to school. Knowing that she will not be able to afford my books and uniform she had no choice but to disagree. I then came up with an alternative option. I took admission for class 5 again to avoid paying for new books. I thought if I came out first in my class again my mother will surely let me continue with school.
And so I resumed my education. I did not have any decent clothes to wear to school and had to travel barefoot, sometimes going hungry for long hours but nevertheless, I successfully maintained top grades in my classes. I completed my secondary education with the support I received every now and then from many kind well-wishers, with scholarships for class 5 and again for class 8. I passed my secondary school certificate (SSC) exam with GPA 5 or grade A+ and thus got selected for a Medhabikash scholarship. I got GPA 5 again in my HSC, after which I started to work harder to get myself admitted into a reputed public university. During this time, along with other Medhabikash students, I received a grant of BDT 5,000 (USD 63) as a support for my university admission. This proved to be the biggest help. My family had already sold a small poultry farm to support me for my admission, which I later paid back with the one-time grant I received from BRAC. After a fiercely competitive admission test, I got admitted into Khulna University of Engineering and Technology (KUET). BRAC’s Medhabikash scholarship supported me throughout my undergraduate years. With the money I received, not only could I support myself but also my mother and younger brother.
I believe to be successful in life, one needs a strong willpower, proper guidance and lastly, economic solvency. I had pushed myself through to secondary level with a determined heart but without the Medhabikash scholarship, I may not have been able to complete my HSC or university. Medhabikash not only helped me financially, it also pushed me to build on my English and computer skills and guided me through my academic years, helping me with valuable suggestions whenever I needed. I owe BRAC for giving me this scholarship, allowing me to push towards my sky’s limit, and here I am pursuing my master’s at a reputed university in Malaysia. I am the first university graduate in my family and the first engineer in my village. I know of many Medhabikash students want to do their post-graduate degrees from abroad but they often cannot afford the initial costs of plane fare or the living expenses for the first few months. I hope BRAC may consider providing either one-time grants or study loans to such qualified students in the future.
Words translated from Bangla by Rizwana Akhter, who works for BRAC’s education programme.