Mahabub Zamal Shamim

Ashoka Fellow
Jessore, Bangladesh
Fellow Since 1996


This profile was prepared when Mahabub Zamal Shamim was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1996.
The New Idea
Mahabub Zamal Shamim sees a gradual disappearance of cultural identity for people of Bangladesh and is equally concerned to see modern society minimizing the importance of creativity, especially in children. Shamim views art and awareness of folk art as the paths that will lead back to these staples of Bangladeshi society. By developing an education program that brings art into people's everyday lives, he is setting the stage for creative development and renewed consciousness of culture. At the same time, Shamim is demonstrating the possibility of building an art-related career in today's world of constraints and financial pressures.Education is the primary vehicle through which Shamim implements his goal of developing creativity in children. He has devised a unique arts curriculum, which he tests, refines, and disseminates at an art program he founded, called Charupith. In Shamim's words, this pilot project has, "in accordance with the psychology of children, a special syllabus and teaching equipment which dispense with formality and make learning a pleasure for children." The interdisciplinary program is not only helping students achieve greater identity with Bangladeshi culture but is also reforming the educational system of government schools. Shamim anticipates teachers as the multipliers of his idea and envisions a day when they will be instrumental in reviving children's cultural identity and developing their sense of creativity. All government schools offer art classes, and art education schools do exist in Bangladesh, but Charupith is the first program working for such fundamental change in the value of Bengali art. Although many art schools train artists, Charupith is promoting fine arts at a grassroots level for the cultural emancipation of the country. The school has an anchor in the community, where it attempts to educate the public about the potential role of art in society. For example, Charupith engages children and adults in the celebration of Bengali festivals.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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