Home » Listen & Read » Script
5454

The Asian University for Women

13 January, 2013
Photo Credit: Asian University for Women

Audio Player

Download Options

» Normal Quality (Mono - 4.27 MB)
» High Quality (Stereo - 13.7 MB)
Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Ryan Geertsma.

Voice 2 

And I’m Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

Chogyel Wangmo and Bayan Hisham Salaymeh are two very different young women. Wangmo is from the country of Bhutan. Salaymeh is from the Palestinian territories. As children, they lived in different cultures and spoke different languages. But now, Wangmo and Salaymeh have something in common. They attend the same all-women’s, English language university.  It is called the Asian University for Women, or AUW.

Voice 2 

AUW is in Chittagong, Bangladesh.  However, its students come from all over Asia.  This diversity is one thing many students like about AUW.  Salaymeh told the New York Times newspaper,

Voice 3 

“I had never been in a place with so much diversity before.”

Voice 1 

Diversity is important to AUW.  So is a quality education.  AUW’s goal is to help young, Asian women achieve a strong education that will help them better serve their home countries.  But this has not been easy.  Since AUW opened in 2008, it has experienced both success and failure. Today’s Spotlight is on the Asian University for Women.

Voice 2 

The Asian University for women was started by Kamal Ahmad.  Ahmad was born in Bangladesh. He went to university in the United States. And he worked for many years as a court official or lawyer.

Voice 1 

In 2000, Ahmad began working with the World Bank and the United Nation’s cultural organization, UNESCO.  He was part of their Task Force on Higher Education and Society. Ahmad worked to educate people about the importance of higher education in developing societies.

Voice 2 

Through his work, Ahmad decided to start a university in his home country of Bangladesh. Ahmad saw a need for higher education, particularly among women.  In the last 30 years, more and more Asian women have been attending university.  However, the numbers are still low.  UNESCO reports that in 2009 only 28% of women in Asia attended university.  Ahmed wanted to change this.  He told the Boston Globe news organization,

Voice 4 

"Women's education is the most effective way to bring about social and economic change."

Voice 1 

Ahmad knew that many women wanted to attend university. But he recognized that a lack of money often kept them from achieving an education. So, in 2006, Ahmad stopped working as a lawyer.  He began raising money to start the Asian University for Women.

Voice 2 

By 2008, Ahmad had raised enough money to open AUW and provide free education for over 100 students.  He had found expert teachers from around the world.  And AUW began accepting students.  Ahmad told the New York Times newspaper how the university chooses students:

Voice 4 

“We look for a light in their eyes. We look for courage  and for a sense of anger at injustice.  We look for mercy and a sense that they are moved by the problems of other people.”

Voice 1 

AUW hopes students will return to their home countries after they finish their studies. They want students to work for social change within their own communities.

Voice 2 

The story of AUW’s beginning is amazing.  Ahmad had a huge dream.  And he worked hard to achieve his dream.  However, AUW has had many struggles in its first four years.  Ahmad had very little experience managing a university. Many of the new AUW teachers left after only a few months at the school.  And since AUW opened, the university has had three different “vice chancellors” - or leaders. After the third vice chancellor left, Ahmad led the school himself.

Voice 1 

In early 2012, Paul Coleman, a former employee at the university, told New Age newspaper,

Voice 5 

“Mr. Ahmad has a lot of dreams as the founder of the university. But he lacks the management skills and moral sense to run the liberal arts college.”

Voice 2 

After these public comments, AUW admitted that they made mistakes.  Jack Meyer is the former president of the organization that raises money for AUW.  In a letter to AUW supporters, he wrote:

Voice 6 

“Starting a good quality university for women in Bangladesh is not an easy thing to do. Mistakes were made. I made mistakes. Kamal Ahmad made mistakes.”

Voice 1 

Ahmad wrote a letter to the New Age newspaper. He said,

Voice 4 

“Looking back, I wish I had been more patient and more careful in my communications. I apologize for these failings. But, these human failings should not decrease either the promise of AUW or my devotion to its success.”

Voice 2 

After apologizing, AUW also made major changes.  The university formed a board of trustees - a group of people that helps make decisions about the university.  In April of 2012, the board also announced that Dr. Fahima Aziz would be AUW’s new vice chancellor.

Voice 1 

Even through its struggles, AUW has experienced success. AUW now has over 500 students.  And in May 2013, it will celebrate the graduation of their first class of students.

Voice 2 

After graduation, many students will continue studying at other universities to receive higher degrees. This is Sumpa Sarkar’s hope.  Sarkar is an AUW student from Bangladesh.  After she graduates from AUW, she wants to get her doctorate degree.  She hopes to use this degree to teach political science.  She told the New York Times,

Voice 7 

“I want to share my knowledge with other people.”

Voice 1 

Other students hope to return to their home countries after they graduate.  They hope to get jobs and begin working.  Salaymeh, from the beginning of this program, plans to return to the Palestinian territories.  She told the New York Times:

Voice 3 

“I cannot think of another place on earth that needs my help as much as my home country.”

Voice 2 

Past AUW teachers and workers have also decided to start another women’s university in South Asia. This university will be called the Asian University of Leadership for Women or AULW. AULW will be in Malaysia.  And it will have an even more specific goal than the AUW. It will train women to become leaders. These women will work in government, politics and for organizations in their home countries.

Voice 1 

The future of AULW will likely be difficult.  Like AUW, it will probably experience both struggles and successes.  However, together universities like AUW and AULW hope to improve economies and countries all over Asia.  They believe, like Kamal Ahmad, in the power of women to change the world.

Voice 2 

The writer of this program was Dianna Anderson. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at http://www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, “The Asian University For Women.”

Voice 1 

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Comments

rosyantigone

rosyantigone said on January 17, 2013

oh, so great!
i’m very happy after i read this article.
today, human’s permission, special women’s permisson has increasingly focused.
i hope in near future, i read, see and listen more and more great information for women.
i also hope i can attend this university in Malaisia!

thanhdung07121985@gmail.com

thanhdung07121985@gmail.com said on January 17, 2013

Thanks for this article brought me new Inf.
Founding AUW is very meaning for women.They can work at many companies after graduating University and become social women.They get justice as the men in developing
Modern society nowaday.
I appreciate Ahmad praised his dream for bringing women education.
I hope AUW will be developed strongly and strongly and extended all over the world.
have a nice day!

What do you think? Log in to comment Now!"