TODAY, March 31, 2014, is the 10th death anniversary of Dr. Nurunnahar Fyzennessa. After becoming Provost and taking the responsibility of Rokeya Hall in 1983, Dr. Fyzennessa initiated the observance of Begum Rokeya Dibash, and made dedicated efforts to form the Begum Rokeya Memorial Trust. Begum Rokeya Dibash was observed for the first time on December 9, 1989.
Dr. Fyzennesa was Professor of Primary Education at the Institute of Education and Research (IER), Dhaka University and the first Principal of University Laboratory School (on deputation from IER). A proud mother of four children, she was born in a noble family in West Bengal.
We observe December 9 as Rokeya Dibash every year in glorious memory of Begum Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain -- an undaunted, indomitable, and great warrior for women's liberty and freedom, as well as empowerment; above all establishing the inherent truth that 'women are also human.'
I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Fyzennessa for a long time with her, first as a student at IER, then as a colleague at IER and Rokeya Hall of Dhaka University.
After working closely with her and her husband, Prof. Syed Moqsud Ali, I can say without hesitation that behind the making of Dr. Nurunnahar Fyzennessa, Moqsud Ali Sir's contribution has been immense. Sir quietly provided all-out support for her activities, including going to the US for higher studies way back in the '60s.
Fyzennessa Apa believed in the ideology that the division between man and woman is a creation of society, and worked all her life to achieve equality in society.
Dr. Fyzennessa was the first female Senate member of Dhaka University, being elected by the teachers. She was also the initiator and founder of the child development centre known as Chhayaneer to ensure the development and education of children of Dhaka University teachers and staff.
In recalling the memory of Fyzennessa Apa, my modest effort has been to project her main contribution -- that of establishing the tradition of observing Rokeya Dibash.
I have two proposals for the government and the Dhaka University authorities:
1) My proposal to the State is to award “Begum Rokeya Padak” to Dr. Nurunnahar Fyzennessa for her pioneering role in upholding, establishing and disseminating the philosophy and ideals of Begum Rokeya in enhancing women's education and realising their rights.
2) My proposal to Dhaka University is to award Dr. Nurunnahar Fyzennesa the recognition of Professor Emeritus (posthumously) for her contributions to the cause of the institution during her tenure of service there, as well as for the creation of Chhayaneer Day Care Centre (early childhood learning) for the children of Dhaka University teachers and staff.
I urge the concerned authorities to consider these proposals to repay our debt to this dedicated and noble soul.
The writer is former Director, IER, DU, and former part time resident teacher, Rokeya Hall, Dhaka University.