The people of Chandanaish's Diyakul, a hard-to-reach area about 100 kilometres away from Chattogram city, are now free from the darkness of illiteracy.
Bordered by hills on the north and by rivers on other three sides, the area had remained deprived of education until a Chattogram-based philanthropist-cum-businessman set foot there in 1995.
Nurul Islam BSc, a port city businessman, while on a visit to the area to establish Sanowara Dairy Farm and Hatchery, felt people's helplessness due to non-education. He made up his mind to look to the issue and accordingly set up Sanowara Adarsha High School in the area with his own funds.
That school, which initially had fewer than 100 students, has now become a school and college. Over 700 students now study in the institution.
A man with a passion for education, Nurul Islam BSc, former chairman of Sanowara Group, has not only established educational facilities for hard-to-reach people but also set up mobile schools for slum dwellers and street children in Chattogram city areas.
At Diyakul, he also set up Sanowara Farm Government Primary School. People of this hilly area have been enlightened with education through these two institutions.
Thousands of businessmen have been doing business in the port city for a hundred years. Nurul Islam BSc is among those few who have also engaged themselves in promoting social welfare.
With a successful career in both business and politics, this veteran politician and businessman has worked most on disseminating education in Chattogram.
He has set up at least 26 multi-faceted educational institutions in Chattogram and the surrounding upazilas since 1989. Around 15,000 students now receive education in these institutions. The Chattogram-based corporate organisation spends around Tk1 crore a year to run these institutions.
Mujibur Rahman, a son of Nurul Islam BSc and managing director of Sanowara Group, said these institutions are the outcome of his father's financial, physical and mental hard work.
Nurul Islam started his business under the name of Sanowara Corporation in 1978, leaving his career in Customs.
A decade later, he concentrated in social work in 1989. In the same year, he established Nurul Islam Municipal Girls High School. Two years later, he built the Hajera-Taju Women's College after his parents' names in the same area in 1991. The college is now known as Hajera-Taju University College.
Around 6,000 students study in this university college alone. It has 70 teachers and 20 staffers. At different public exams, the college has appeared one of the leading institutions in Chattogram.
His mobile school project has 2 buses that incorporate all kinds of educational materials. The buses, at a certain time of the day, move to underprivileged communities in the city where slum and street children take education from classes.
In Chandgaon area in 2016, Nurul Islam established Chittagong Kindergarten on 4 acres of land which has modern education facilities as well as a pleasant environment for physical and mental development of the children.
At present, about 600 students are studying in the institute, which has a modern lab and a rich library suitable for children. The schools, since the very beginning, have retained a 100% pass rate at the primary education completion (PEC) exams.
Business of Sanowar Group
Although Sanowara Corporation began business by importing consumer goods in 1978, it later expanded itself into various sectors under the name of Sanowara Group. At present, the group has 14 affiliates which currently employ about 3,000 people.
Among the businesses of the company, dairy, toiletries, beverages, packaging, holdings, poultry and hatchery, and furniture are notable.
Born in a middle-class family to Taju Mia and Hajera Khatun in 1943, Nurul Islam BSc matriculated from the local NMC Adarsha High School in 1959. For admission into Chittagong College, he had to sell his mother's earrings to raise money for buying books. He then made a promise to himself to work towards bringing education to the doorsteps of the people.
He got married to Sanowara Begum in 1964 when he was a BSc candidate. After completing BSc, he joined Rahmania School as a science and math teacher on a monthly salary of Tk200. At the time, students of the school used to address him as "BSc Sir". Since then, BSc has become a part of his name.
Later, he left school teaching and joined Customs on a salary of Tk375 a month. During the Liberation War in 1971, he got hold of the map of "Karnafuli river channel" from his office and provided it to the freedom fighters.
Besides, Nurul Islam BSc was one of the 15-20 youths who launched an armed struggle around Kalurghat radio station during the war.
Nurul Islam BSc was elected a lawmaker from Kotwali constituency of Chattogram in 2008 with the boat symbol. Although he was not nominated for the 2014 national elections, he was appointed minister for expatriates welfare and overseas employment on the technocrat quota on 14 July 2015.
Nurul Islam BSc has been serving as vice president of Chattogram Metropolitan Awami League since 2012.