Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi’s sole Bangladeshi curriculum school is soon set to see the departure of its long-serving principal and educator, Mir Anisul Hasan, with students and teachers felicitating the school head before his exit.
The 60-year-old has spent 35 years working at Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Bangladeshi Islamia Private School. He joined the institution as a teacher of English language and literature and has been at its helm since 2012.
“I had never thought I would spend such a long time in the UAE when I first came here. I had planned to teach for a few years, then pursue graduate studies abroad. But something about serving the community and the country’s hospitality and love for sustainability kept me here,” Hasan told Gulf News.
It was in 1986 that Hasan joined the private school serving Abu Djabi’s Bangladeshi community. At the time, it had 500 enrolled students. Classes were held every afternoon on the premises of a government school after its students had left for the day. “We only moved to the current premises on Dhafeer Street in 1990, after the UAE leadership donated land and funds for a school building,” Hasan reminisced.
Back then, students had a choice between English and Bengali as the primary language of instruction. The school enrolled students up to Grade 10 and eventually went on to launch classes up to Grade 12.
“I was excited when the college section was launched and it made me want to stay on. I was already really enjoying my job, which not only allowed me to teach other subjects from time to time, but also to organise extracurrcicular activities that developed students’ potential and skills,” Hasan said.
Hasan was a popular host during the school’s talent shows and cultural events and worked to connect with his students. When the school eventually removed Bengali as a language of instruction, Hasan felt that students needed more opportunities to develop their English language skills.
“Many of our students were only fluent in their mother tongue and I wanted to provide them with greater exposure to English as a medium of communication. This led to the formation of the school’s Environment Club in 2005. Environment Agency Abu Dhabi had a full schedule of activities for students through its Sustainable Schools Initiative and I felt this would not only help our students become better communicators, but also make them passionate about the environment,” Hasan said.
The club proved to be a success, with children signing up in droves. In 2013, it brought the school one of its highest accolades till date: The Zayed Energy Prize for Global High Schools. The school had already introduced conservation measures by then, including planting trees to create a lower-temperature microclimate and reducing energy consumption. In its application, it proposed to install solar panels to further reduce energy consumption and to conserve water. Hasan considers winning the Zayed Energy Prize one of his proudest moments. “I was so proud of our students. I already knew what they were capable of and they were proving it to the community,” he said.
The school’s teaching was recognised a few years later when Anita Yesuratnam, head of the Department for English and the school development officer, was awarded as one of Abu Dhabi’s best teachers in 2020.
“I hope the school will only continue to move from achievement to achievement after I leave. We have some of the most dedicated teachers and immensely talented and compassionate students,” Hasan said. “In addition, we are an institution in the UAE, where the passion of the country’s founding father, the inspirational late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, transformed a desert into a green land. His is an example that continues to motivate our students,” Hasan added.
The educator further said that he would greatly miss his students and their families. Rattling off the names of many, he said he had learnt from them as much as he had taught them.
Hasan is certainly a well-loved leader. Speaking to Gulf News, teachers and students praised his qualities. “Our principal was one of a kind. He inspired students and teachers alike. Apart from teaching, he loved culture and humanitarian ideas. So while he is patriotic, he also has a keen global spirit,” said SM Abu Taher, head of the Department for Bangla at the school. Abu Taher has worked at the school alongside Hasan for three decades.
Yesuratnam also applauded Hasan’s sense of empathy. “With his unique capability of empathising with every student and teacher, he has always lent a listening ear to the concerns of all. A scholar, poet and writer, he instilled in his students a love of reading and always motivated his colleagues to develop themselves professionally. His passion for environmental sustainability has led the school towards winning prestigious awards related to sustainable development. I am sure he will continue to touch the lives of many, wherever he goes,” she said.
Students said they will most miss Hasan’s sense of mentorship. “Our principal is a man of excellent leadership skills and immense wisdom. He has not only been an amazing teacher, but also a father-figure to his students for more than three decades. He has helped me uncover my talent for writing stories and confidently presenting them,” said Bibi Rabiyah Noor, a Grade 11 student at the school.
“It is difficult to say goodbye to our beloved principal, who was not just a principal, but also a caring mentor. He has had a huge role in building our character and stood by us firmly in every difficulty. He is open-minded, generous, knowledgeable, and modest. And we wish him the very best for the rest of his life,” said Abdullah Al Saem, a Grade 12 student.