A school drop-out who is helping to educate thousands

Mason’s passion for education results in increased opportunities for poor Muslim students. Part of the TCNPositive series.

By Zaidul Haque, TwoCircles.net,

Kolkata/Malda: He dropped out of school as his poor father could not afford to pay for his studies. He later became a mason and went away from his native place to earn and support his family. But his passion for education prompted Enamul Haque to return to his roots and put his savings to construct educational institutions for children, mostly from poor Muslim families.

Qurania Madrassa (Theological Madrassa) – ‘Marium Memorial Girls Madrassa’ at his native Chandpur village under the Ratua police station and an English medium school near Samsi railway station at Samsi of Malda district are the result of his passion.

Mason Enamul Haque, who build a Girls Madrassa and Englsih Medium school in Malda district of West Bengal

Haque’s father Abdul Mannan was an agriculture labourer and often found it hard to make ends meet for his family of wife, six sons and five children. Haque, the forth son, dropped out of school after class three due to his family’s poor financial condition. He soon started helping out in his father’s work. When he was 14, a local mason Abed Hossain proposed to take him out to other parts of the state to learn work as mason, construction work and other jobs. After convincing his father, Haque reached Durgapur city of Burdwan as construction labour.

In about five years, Haque, now 48, said he became proficient in his work as a good mason. Observant and a fast learner, he started innovating in architectural designs bringing him a good name in the local construction field. But one thing nagged him no end. “When a Civil Engineer instructed me to follow the structural design for a construction work, I felt dishonored as I could not read English text and hence could not follow the exact directions of the engineer,” Haque told TwoCircles.net.

This made him realise, once again, the importance of education and on that, the value of learning English. “I thought if I was educated, I could have earned much more,” he says. That was the turning point in his life. He decided then and there and chalked out a plan to save enough funds to build educational institution.

Founder Enamul Haque with the students of his school `Al Hai Mission’ at Samsi, Malda

After marriage, he was inspired by his wife Berful Bibi. She too was not educated but shared his passion for education. Both joined hands to fulfil his dream.

The effort started in 2003 when they purchased one Bigha land for a residential theological Madrassa in the name of ‘Marium Memorial Girls Madrassa’ at his Chandpur village. Even when the couple lived and worked in Durgapur, they worked for the madrassa at his native village.

“The literacy rate among the Muslims in our village is very low and girls are rendered backward in education. So we thought there was first a need of a girls’ educational institution,” Haque says.

Girls students of Al Hai Mission at Samsi

Within a short time, he built and started classes from nursery level. But at the beginning, his targets was only to learn teach Islamic theological education along with Arabic. As there is no Qurania madrassa nearby so within a few days, many girls come to this madrassa to learn Arabic and Islamic studies. He recruited a Maulana to teach the girls and arranged for a residential accommodation along with day section. As on date, more than 200 girls, most of them as residential students, are studying in this madrassa. He also recently opened an Islamic library.

Children from very poor, marginalized families get free of cost education at these institutions and for others, a nominal fees is charged, which Haque claims is less than other private schools in the area.

Haque has formed a trust – ‘Islamic Research and Social Welfare Centre’ – for smooth functioning of the two institutions. He is the secretary and takes care of the day to day administration. Soon, they returned to Chandpur leaving behind his work at Durgapur. His work experience there offered him building contract works and within few years, his good relations with people got him construction contracts for local gram panchayat and government sector works.

Al Hai Mission, English Medium school

His further plan includes another school for underdeveloped Muslim dominated area. He has already purchased one acre land about 12 kms from his native place, near Samsi railway station.

In his life as a mason, as Haque claims to have suffered because he didn’t know English, he has embarked on yet another dream. An English medium nursery school – ‘Al Hai Mission’ run by his Trust. This school has now been upgraded till class five with more than 300 students. In about a year’s time, a new building will be completed for secondary level. Haque’s plan includes each year upgrade by one class and finally turn the school into a Higher Secondary English medium school.

Marium Memorial Girls Madrassa at Chandpur, Ratua, Malda

His eldest son Muhammad Md Estab Ali has passed BA examination this year. His two other sons and three daughters too are studying in the same school.

Principal of Al Hai Mission told TwoCircles.net that their school follows ICSE syllabus. Beside Arabic, English too is given importance in the school. The school premises has a separate prayer room for Namaz, which is mandatory for Muslim students.

The founder of these institutions, Haque says educationally uplifting Muslim dominated areas as well as Muslim students is the target of his institutions. “So, we look for poor meritorious Muslim students, that too, totally free of cost. We are taking other students through entrance examination but give priority to merit-holders and to those from financially poor conditions.”

Students of Children section of Al Hai Mission

This school employs 17 teachers and seven non-teaching staff. Locally popular cleric Maulana Badruddin Nadwi told TCN, “Samsi and Ratua are educationally backward areas. We are happy to have got our own ‘Sir Syed Ahmed of Samsi’.” (Late 19th century educationist Sir Syed Ahmed was the founder of Aligarh Muslim University and largely credited for spreading educational awareness among the Muslim community).

“Enamul Haque has made history in this area. He is like Syed Ahmed, who has given same important to modern education beside the Islamic education,” Maulana Nadwi said adding, all are happy that Haque has introduced such courses in his school wherein students speak both in Arabic and English.

Haque’s future plans include taking the institution further to turn it into a degree college.