Bangladesh activist gets first Wise award

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Bangladesh activist gets first Wise award

The first Wise Prize for Educational Excellence was given yesterday to the founder and chairperson of Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (Brac), Fazle Hasan Abad.

HH the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani handed over the prize, carrying a cash award of $500,000 and a citation, to Abad at the end of the opening plenary session of Wise 2011.

The full house at the Theatre, the main conference venue of the Qatar National Convention Centre, gave a standing ovation to the prize recipient, who, according to the organisers, has been rendering unparalleled educational and empowerment services in Bangladesh and nine other countries as part of the Brac initiatives in the last four decades.

At the award ceremony, chairman of the Wise Dr Abdullah Ali al-Thani said Brac’s initiatives had helped more than 140mn people across nine countries gain educational access at different levels.

Dr Ali al-Thani said while there had been other awards, including the Nobel Prize for those working in different areas like physics, chemistry, medicine  and literature, there was no such big award for those  rendering services to make education accessible to large number of people, mainly in poor countries. The Wise award, he felt, would fill the gap and could be considered as the finest award given in the educational sector.

The Brac, it was announced at the meeting, is one of the largest educational and social networks in the world, having close to 120,000 volunteers at different levels. Of them there are nearly 55,000 teachers and 47,000 other staffers.

Its operations are spread over Asia, Africa and Central America. Besides Bangladesh, the Brac volunteers also work in Afghanistan, Pakistan,  Sri Lanka, Liberia, Sierre Leone, Uganda, Tanzania, Southern Sudan and Haiti.

Later at a briefing, the Brac official said theirs could be one of the largest (if not the largest) voluntary educational non-government organisations, working on an annual  budget of $700mn. “However there are other forums such as World Vision and Oxfam which have bigger annual budgets,” Abad pointed out

While thanking the Qatar Foundation and its chairperson HH Sheikha Moza and Dr Abdulla Ali al-Thani, the award recipient said the honour would boost his organisation’s activities further. “We are not only delighted at the conferring of the award upon us but the honour would also encourage us to take up greater educational and other empowerment challenges in  coming days.”

Speaking at the award ceremony, Dr Abdulla Ali al-Thani said Abad started his initiatives at a turbulent time when Bangladesh was fighting its war of independence and had succeeded in giving a right direction to several thousands of people, mainly in rural Bangladesh and nine other countries.

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