While serving as a municipality councillor, 45-year-old Dolhar Hossain realised that a certain level of education is essential for effective involvement in public service, so he enrolled at a secondary school in Rajshahi in his mid-forties.
Dolhar, a father of two, is a councillor of Bhabaniganj municipality under Bagmara upazila. He got admitted in the ninth grade of Bhabaniganj Model Technical and Business Management College in 2018-19 session.
He has been appearing at the final examinations for this year from November 2. If he comes out successful, he is likely to take part in SSC examination (vocational) in the year after next.
Talking to The Daily Star, Dolhar Hossain said he dropped out of school in his boyhood following a family problem.
“As my career in politics was progressing and I was meeting various people from all walks of life, I realised that education is a must,” he said.
The aim is to become a university graduate, he added.
In the mid-eighties, Dolhar Hossain finished sixth grade at Bhabaniganj High School.
Angry about his father’s second marriage, Dolhar left his home at Dangachhi village and went to Patnitola of Naogaon, where he completed seventh grade at a local school. He returned home a year later, and studied in eighth grade, after which he dropped out.
“As I was living on my own, I began working as an assistant to a mason at that time,” he said, adding that he later became a mason himself.
Gradually he began getting involved with local politics and was elected president of ward-4 unit of Awami League in 2013-14. He was elected councillor of the ward in the 2015 municipal elections.
He was made panel mayor (who works as the acting mayor in absence of the officeholder) of Bhabaniganj municipality.
Once he was selected panel mayor, Dolhar Hossain realised the value of education. “In absence of the mayor, I had to deal with the municipality’s officials and engineers. At those times, I felt an identity crisis and a sense of inferiority,” Dolhar said.
After becoming councillor, he left his work as a mason and began working as a contractor of Education Engineering Department.
“When the engineers enquired about my qualification, I had nothing to say. I felt ashamed,” he said.
Speaking about his family, Dolhar said his wife had completed her higher secondary education.
“She sat for BA examinations, but she was unsuccessful in one subject so she gave up,” he said.
His youngest son is two-and-a-half years-old while the elder is eight. Dolhar said he will ensure highest education for them.
When contacted, college principal Ziaul Alam told The Daily Star that they allowed Dolhar to enroll in ninth grade, honouring his will to be educated.
“Our institute has previous records of teaching elderly people,” he said, adding that a 80-year-old man and a 55-year-old union council member attended SSC examinations from the college.