A new scholarship in memory of the late Mr Rezaur Rahman will provide funding for postgraduate students from Bangladesh. Naila Kabeer, Professor of Gender and Development at LSE and one of Mr Rahman’s nieces, tells us about her uncle and his lifelong commitment to widening access to education.
My uncle was a businessman and philanthropist who divided his time between Bangladesh, where he lived in his early adult years, and the UK, where he lived with his wife for the remainder of his life. He did not have any children, but had many nieces and nephews who he cherished.
The value he placed on education was central to his contribution to his family, and to society. While he was alive, he supported his nieces and nephews who made it into top universities: he was keen on excellence in education and on merit. He also contributed for many years to an annual award, through the Bangladesh High Commission, for young Bangladeshi students in the UK who achieved outstanding grades at school.
In Bangladesh, he established the AF Mujibur Rahman Foundation – named after his father (my grandfather) – to support higher education in the country. Initially, the foundation had a special emphasis on mathematics, but its focus diversified overtime to support causes at the other end of the educational spectrum, seeking to promote basic education among those who face discrimination – girls and children from marginalised communities and remote areas.
My uncle's legacy gift to LSE is very much in keeping with his values. The scholarship will enable talented students from Bangladesh, or of Bangladeshi origin, to pursue postgraduate studies at the School, regardless of financial background. He knew of LSE’s reputation, independently of the fact that some of his nieces studied here, and he regarded the School very highly. Just as the Foundation in Bangladesh can be seen as an acknowledgement of his association with the country in which he was born and grew up, I think his donation to LSE is an acknowledgement of the country he and his wife chose to make their home, where they both died and where they are both buried.
In the obituary I wrote for the Foundation’s website, I described him as the ‘quiet philanthropist’. He went about his philanthropy without fuss, never seeking any publicity for his efforts. That said, his contribution to education in the UK and Bangladesh means that students from both these countries will remember and appreciate him.