Interview of Dr. Abdul Qadeer, founder of Shaheen Group of Institutions, Bidar, Karnataka
Dr Abdul Qadeer has helped thousands of students with weak academic record and dropouts do well in life with his interesting concept of Academic Intensive Care Unit, A-ICU. Afreen Hussain spoke to the engineer turned educationist Dr Abdul Qadeer about his efforts to boost the educational standards of Muslims with his new concepts. Excerpts from the interview:
During the Covid19 pandemic, we’ve heard the term ICU being used commonly but your ICU is something unique and unheard of, please tell us about it.
The A-ICU stands for Academic Intensive Care Unit. The aim of A-ICU is to help the slow learners to catch up with their basics especially mathematics and the languages. The A-ICU department has been a part of the Shaheen institutions for 15 years. Even after studying at our institution, students would opt for tuitions making us feel bad about it. That is the reason why A-ICU was brought in to eradicate tuitions. A-ICU was started as remedial and special classes for students who needed some extra care and attention from the teachers.
How is the response to A-ICU? Was the eradication of tuitions the main aim of A-ICU?
I can say that we have successfully eradicated tuitions. Tuitions are a weakness; every institution should work towards having their own A-ICU's so that their students do not go for tuitions. All over India, we have around 12 A-ICU departments that work with the dropouts. A-ICU is our strength which has delivered so many doctors, engineers and officers.
Shaheen group of institutions started in Bidar and its branches are spread almost all across Karnataka, what was the motivation behind this expansion?
Shaheen isn't just an institution, it's a culture. At Shaheen, we don't just create doctors and engineers, we teach our students how to be grateful; we teach a lifestyle they require to have a successful future. We want to spread this culture throughout the country and that's why we have more than 40 branches across India.
Tell us something about yourself, how did Shaheen group of institutions originate. How do you financially sustain this institution?
The origins of Shaheen group of institutions is based on a personal incident. My younger brother dropped out we tried a lot to get him admitted in a school in Hyderabad but he refused to go. All this got me thinking that while were putting in our time and money to fulfil my younger brother's educational requirements what about the people who cannot afford it, the time and the money. After thinking about all this, Shaheen kindergarten was started with just 17 students and a teacher in a small room on 1st December 1989. Now, we have 20,000 plus students and staff of around 1,500 employees. At that time, I was working with a Japanese company Marubeni corporation as an engineer. I quit my job to fully focus on the development of the school. With no budget and no plan, I started Shaheen group of institutions with just my motivation. The fees that we collect from students is the only resource.
We also provide 20% of the students who are financially weak free education. I have faced financial difficulties and yet we have managed to sustain and move ahead. The specialty of Shaheen group of institutions is that students from all religions and economic backgrounds study together and it promotes brotherhood. Shaheen group of institutions has also received Karnataka's highest civilian award, the Rajyotsava award. I have been felicitated by the Gulbarga University with honorary doctorate degree. All these developments have boosted my morale.
How Important is education in the progress of our country and for the society and especially for the Muslim community?
It's very unfortunate that we have to explain the importance of education to the community. It has been accepted worldwide that if a substantial change has to brought with minimum money, efforts and time, it is definitely through education and henceforth education is absolutely necessary.
Any message that you'd like to share with the youth, with the Muslim community?
I'd like to stress on the fact that education is the necessary tool which is required for the change that we'd like to see in our society. Parents must focus on their children's education more than anything else because the youth is our future and we can progress only if the youth progress.