Fellow Since 1998
This profile was prepared when Mostafa Shiblee was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1998.
The New Idea
Mostafa Shiblee strongly believes that one reason why many Bangladeshi students abandon their studies, fall into drug abuse, or become involved in violent political confrontations is that the educational system fails to provide creative and engaging alternatives. His organization supplements the educational system in his country to meet this need. Shiblee facilitates the lively debate of important political and social issues as a vehicle to create social consciousness and give students opportunities to act on it. His format sparks students' imaginations and taps into their natural enthusiasm and desire to change the world around them. The students benefit from Shiblee's program both at an academic and a personal level. The program teaches them to identify and analyze a problem and develop creative, well-reasoned arguments; they learn about current issues and discuss them in a legitimate and constructive form; they learn new approaches to group dialogue and conflict resolution. After participating in Shiblee's program, students who previously did almost no reading outside of their prescribed syllabus have begun to read for themselves and participate in their communities. They become interested in current events, and their knowledge of complex social issues dramatically increases. They develop a sense of self-worth and the realization that they have a democratic voice in the policy decisions that shape their lives. As a result, a sense of community involvement replaces the sense of detachment and alienation often felt by these adolescents. The debates bridge the gap between Bangladesh's academic communities and the general public, because Shiblee emphasizes practical, constructive involvement in social issues rather than esoteric scholarly debate.