I have discovered a real enlightened man in the remote village of Khoksa Upazila, in the district of Kushtia. Conventionally uneducated but naturally educated Jasimuddin is that individual who has established a library responding to a special call of his inner urge. He is a carpenter by profession and attended in his local primary school only up to class two!
He seems to be an interesting man with a quite different kind of hobby that is usually not pursued by any man belonging to the social strata he belongs to. The noble initiative taken by Jasimuddin has overshadowed the activities of the most highly educated people of the society. No, he is not a rich or solvent man also. He is just a carpenter but he has taken the responsibility to enlighten the people of his locality by distributing books among them, making them members of his library free of cost.He collects books from different sources to satisfy the increasing needs of the members who flock to his library which is housed in a small cottage. In this age of commerce and technology, he has become successful to divert the attention of the young learners of his area toward books, which I would like to call a ‘revolution’. He attracted countless youths to submerge themselves in the pages of books instead of wasting time in social media.
Jasimuddin buys books with his own hard earned money regularly from Kushtia town and sometimes from Nilkhet, Dhaka as some of his friends have suggested him that books can be bought comparatively at a lower price from Nilkhet. He established this library in 2015 in a rented small house. His library has More than 250 members, including both boys and girls, school going children, parents, teachers and housewives. The number is increasing almost every week.
The members take books from the library or read books sitting in the library from morning till night every day with a little bit exceptional time on Fridays and other public holidays. In a bid to collect books he goes to different educated people of society so that he can fulfill the needs of his ever increasing number of readers. He wants people to get engaged in reading. He believes it will keep them away from various social ills such as nasty politics, terrorism, extremism, unnecessary quarrelling and backbiting. People will tread the path of light and knowledge by reading books. He dreams to contribute to establish such a society where the youth will follow the honest path and dedicate their lives to the welfare of the country. He wants to see a society where empathy and sympathy will reign by banishing corruption and social ills.
I have already mentioned that Jasimuddin had his formal education up to class two in a village primary school but his hand writing, skills of sending emails and using ICT really make me wonder. He regularly uses social media to spread the message of his mission. How many educated men can we find in our society who don’t bother about their own benefit, house, future and bank balance? How many of them establish library or distribute books free of cost? How many of them think of enlightening rural people? Readers will agree with me that their number is either rare or not at all.
The level of his consciousness really astonished me. He told me, “ Sir, there are some guardians who don’t allow their children to read other books than their textbooks only. Will it increase their knowledge? How can I make them understand this fact that only textbooks cannot enrich the knowledge of the students? They must read books of various kinds.” This kind of statement we can expect from the enlightened teachers and the most conscious sections of the society but we hear it from Jasimuddin who does not have actually any formal education. I salute his effort, I salute his work and I salute his consciousness. The educated people of the society must come to extend their helping hands towards him as the young generation spends their time doing many unnecessary things. He has brought about a silent revolution in a rural backwater. It should spread all across the country.
The writer works as education specialist in BRAC Education Programme