Ode to brilliance
Yesterday morning was one of those moments that make the nation proud and give the country renewed hopes.
It was the morning that saw a section of the future leaders Bangladesh laurelled as 1,639 students from different schools across the country received The Daily Star Award for their excellence in O-level and A-level examinations.
The 15th O- and A-level Award Presentation Ceremony also conferred special recognition on 162 students -- 64 for achieving the highest scores in the world in different subjects and 98 for outperforming the rest in Bangladesh.
The award ceremony, held at Mirpur Indoor Stadium and jointly sponsored by Brac Bank, Monash University, Malaysia and Edexcel, honoured those who received at least six A's in O-level or three A's in A-level in 2012-2013 academic year.
Congratulating the award-winners from 71 English medium schools from across the country, speakers at the programme urged the students to recognise the achievements Bangladesh has made defying all odds and adversities.
"Bangladesh may be a poor country in economic terms but we are not poor in intellect," said Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid, the chief guest of the programme.
"We take great pride on the fact that you have achieved the best results among all the students of the world," he said.
In his welcome address, Mahfuz Anam, editor and publisher of The Daily Star, said this award actually aimed to give the students an impetus to go for further achievements.
"This recognition should inspire you to achieve higher honours," he said in the tightly packed stadium.
He urged the award-winners to put the interests of the nation above everything else and serve the country no matter what.
Highlighting the progress the country has made in the last 43 years, Mahfuz Anam said, "Please, recognise the tremendous achievements we have made. This will give us new dreams and the courage to implement those dreams".
Terming the young minds as the best resource of a country, special guest of the programme Robert Winnington Gibson, the British High Commissioner to Bangladesh, said, "Education is not just about improving yourself. It is about improving the world".
Gibson's words seemed to have been well received by the students as Anshah Anju Khan Chowdhury, in her valedictory speech, spoke of what their role should be in making the world a better place.
"I believe success and happiness are relative. If we have a positive outlook on life, and make an attempt to walk in the shoes of a deprived person, we can really know what happiness is," said Anshah, who received six A's with three A*'s (stars) in her A-level in the academic year 2012- 2013 from Mastermind School.
Ragib Mostafa of Turkish Hope International School thanked his family and teachers for his outstanding performance in the O-level examinations in which he earned 11 A*'s in one sitting.
He also expressed his gratitude to the examination authorities like Edexcel, Cambridge University and the British Council in Bangladesh for "advancing learning, changing lives, by conducting exams and allowing students of Bangladesh to prove themselves globally".
Urging students to make a positive difference in this world, Simon Young, regional director of Edexcel UK, said more than 18,000 Bangladeshi students sit for the Edexel O- and A-level examinations every year.
Jayatilaka Guttila Ruwan Perera, director of Monash University, Malaysia, also praised Bangladeshi students' performance in studies abroad and recognised the sacrifices of their parents in ensuring the best education for their children.
Syed Mahbubur Rahman, managing director and CEO of Brac Bank, encouraged the students saying that the achievers would turn problems into opportunity, poverty into abundance and people into resources.
In between the presentations of certificates and medals, cultural groups from six schools entertained the audience with colourful performances.