Zahid recalled the time a few years ago while he was standing in a bus queue at Shahbag with some documents in hand and pondering what he has just done. He just paid around 25000 taka to a special ‘bhai’ who managed original bank statements from a leading bank in the country, the statements belonged to one Mr. Haroon living in Uttara and had a liquid healthy balance of around 33 lakhs taka. Zahid sighed over the fact that even though he had an ornamented academic career, it could never compensate the fact that his father never possessed the required amount of money in the bank, which is a vital requirement for getting student visas you see. So he had this friend, whose brother had another friend, who used to work in a bank, and who in return of a ‘small fee’, used to give away true statements to people like Zahid. Well so much so for ‘creative’ yet necessary means to produce financial statements in order to reach to the land of dreams and opportunities, out of this chaotic place. Yesterday I had a chat with the head of a foreign university’s agency here in Dhaka. He was lamenting over the fact that student export rate to foreign universities have gone down alarmingly. Mostly because of the fact that the high commissions and embassies have become stricter in terms of scrutinizing and cross-checking financial documents provided by aspiring students and their true and ‘virtual’ sponsors.
No wonder EBL has spotted a business opportunity in the largest consumer segment of the nation, its students, and have formulated a financial product in the form of student loans. I wish the campaign luck and I wish all those student good luck in their endeavors for a better academic future both at home and abroad. I hope students like Zahid will not have to buy original statements from renowned multinational banks of the country anymore, they can simply walk in to a branch of EBL and likes, apply and get the money to pursue further education. However as there is no free lunch in life and in Bangladesh, who knows how the aspiring students will fall under the axe of exorbitant interest rates for those loans.