Noted writer, television personality and cultural activist Professor Abdullah Abu Sayeed, the founder of Bishwo Shahitto Kendro, celebrates his 81st birthday today.
Through Bishwo Shahitto Kendro, Sayeed aims to shed light on Bengali literary traditions through books. His dedication to promote reading and increase access to literature led him to establish the organisation in 1978.
Bishwo Shahitto Kendro started out as a study circles, comprising only 15 members, before being formed into an auditorium of Bangladesh Education Extension Department (now National Academy for Educational Management). More than forty years later, such study circles have been replicated in 14,000 secondary and higher secondary level educational institutions all over Bangladesh, engaging around 83,00,000 students in reading and reviewing some of the world's greatest literary works.
With the motto, 'we want enlightened humans,' the organisation has inspired and created generations of Bangladeshi intellectuals, since its beginning. Today, their activism has spread to 11,500 schools in 64 districts of Bangladesh.
Over time, Sayeed has successfully developed the centre itself as a library and a publishing house. In response to the lack of public libraries in Bangladesh, Sayeed launched a countrywide mobile library programme in 1998. With the help of funds from the Norwegian government, their mobile libraries today make stops at 1,900 locations in 58 cities throughout Bangladesh.
As a young man, Sayeed devoted his time to writing poetry and prose and led a literary movement in the 1960s as the editor of the magazine Kanthashar. Hel also hosted several popular shows on television. In the mid 1970s, he started presenting Shaptabarna, a show on Bangladesh Television. As a reputed author, Sayeed has penned multiple books, including Amar Ashabad (2009), Amar Boka Shoishob (2010), Amar Uposthapok Jibon (2008), Bhalobashar Shampan (2007), Bishwo Shahitto Kendro O Ami (2007), Bohe Joloboti Dhara (2006) and many others.
He has received numerous awards throughout the years, including the National Television Award (1977), Ekushey Padak (2005) and Bangla Academy Award (2011). In 2004, he was honoured with the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Journalism, Literature, and Creative Communication Arts, in recognition for his work.