Saidpur-visits 13 -14 January by Florus Geraedts team: reports
January 17, 2016, 2:11 pm
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13 January 14.00 pm: Government Technical College Saidpur
Teachers present: Abul Kalam Azad, Physics; Azizul Bari, Botany; Shayla Akter, Chemistry; Ershad Ali Mondol, English; Fazlul Haque, Bengali; Ataur Rahman Raihan, Botany; M.A. Matin, assistant professor Chemistry.

Session about:

  1. Archives awareness guided by Florus Geraedts, advisor of National Archives Bangladesh (NAB). NAB is interested in growing awareness of need for archives for Good Governance and for History.
  2. Spread of awareness to build up archives Network with Bangladesh Archives & Records Management Society (BarmS), Friends of Archives Bangladesh (FAB) & Bangladesh Archives & Right To Information Community Kishoreganj (BARTICK) which also will help to spread knowledge on Archives Management.
  3. Archives Management make people more capable in governance, organizing, planning and makes their historical feeling and knowledge grow.

A lot of school directors know that archives management is seriously needed for proper planning of school activities and also creating and keeping well maintained and easily accessible archives.

13 january 21.35 pm: Saidpur Pressclub Meeting
Florus gives introduction about the importance of Archives Management and use of Archives Information for society, educational system, healthcare system and culture in Bangladesh as well as how important proper archives management will be for Right To Know of the citizens of Bangladesh and how helpful archives management is for real democracy in Bangladesh. Elias translates this in Bangla and explains how much NAB, BarmS and FAB are interested to empower the Archives Movement in Bangladesh and stimulate growing of Archives awareness and archives knowledge in Bangladesh. Building a network, locally and nationally. Locally Pressclubs are such an important meeting point in Bangladeshi Society, as they are places, where journalists as professional information experts can freely discuss what’s important in local community, as well as in national politics. RTI act 2009 can be helpful for creating more active citizenship and more active discussion between citizens and the politicians and authorities. Actual information in Bangladesh is often not practiced or not used in Statistics, while in Bangladesh information so often is a medium of politeness instead of giving and collecting REAL data. For example about the number of school seats, needed in a municipality, or de number of hospital beds according to size of the local population. Planning without data is impossible. This can be seen in the bad condition of the roads, the sewerage system and the water and electricity supply. How can local Pressclub help to fight durniti? How can local Pressclub help to make local government more democratic and more listening to people’s demand?  How can Pressclub develop strategy for protecting journalists against government authorities who want to keep silent critical journalists? Present were: Sakur Hossen Badol, Jhntu, Tofazzol Hossen, Ghopal Chandra Ray, M.A. Karim.

14 January morning: Principal of St. Gerosa Junior Highschool

Discussion about same three subects (need for archives for good governance and history; building network and spread of knowledge by this network; and need of archives for planning and organizing work and life) with principal Sister Maloti Malo. Sister Maloti knows that archives management is seriously needed for proper planning of school activities and also creating and keeping well maintained and easily accessible archives. She knows that upazela is giving guidelines to the public schools about archiving but not for special schools like her Missionary Roman Catholic School.  Maybe the special Roman Catholic Educational Board of Bangladesh in Assad Avenue, Dhaka, can give guidance on Archives Management and training on archives.

14 January 12.06 pm: Railway Hospital Saidpur

Received by head clark in his office. Before discussion on archival awareness visit to the record room where head clark and his female assistant are sorting out the archival documents, spread out on a long table. Amount of records 2 to 3 meter. No computer was available. Later on – seeing absence of computers in office of doctor director and doctor assistant director of the Railway Hospital, we could understand that the computerization of this organisation has not yet started. Many of these documents are part of a patient file system: admission, costs, but also treatment connected. As the head clark was mentioning file describing and file numbers, as well as subject describing, we could conclude that he head clark certainly has idea and knowledge about archiving activities.

Also short discussion about history, the age of Railway Hospital, Railway Workshop, Churches and more parts of the special Saidpur Railway quarters also with director dr. AKM Khairul Bashar and asst. director dr Anisul Haque. Florus told that he saw in Kolkata, Sudderstreet, an old English church with year of establishment 1866: same style of design and building: neo gothic, as the railway buildings of Saidpur. We still have to visit the old cemetery of the Catholic Church as sisters Maloti Malo and Celine this morning suggested, to reconstruct the history of the Railway colony of the British authority and Railway Network in Colonial India and South Asia.

Then discussion about interest of NAB in growing awareness of need for archives for Good Governance and for History; spread awareness and build up archives Network with BarmS, FAB and BARTICK. This Archives Network also will help to spread knowledge on Archives Management. We want to show that Archives Management make people more capable in governance, organizing, planning  and makes their historical feeling and knowledge grow. Zia Heart Foundation Hospital in Dinajpur is an example of a well organized hospital because they are organizing their archives management.

14 january 13.21 pm: visit Saidpur Paurashava.
Elias, Zobair and Florus visit Mayor of Saidpur, panel mayor. Introduction by UDC information chief officer Akmal Sarkar Raju. Akmal also in charge of RTI act 2009 and related issues. Panel Mayor seemed well informed about the history of Saidpur Municipality as well as about the Archives of Saidpur. Both Mayor Ziaul Haque as well as Sojib Ashish Kumar Sarkar were acquainted with their archives and really interested to give us explanation. Requested by Florus, Mayor, and Akmal answered that in 1870 the Railway history of Saidpur started. 1958 establishment of Saidpur Municipality / Paurashava under Pakistani rule. Elias and Florus, helped by Zobair, explained about the idea of BARM program, cooperation between NAB and Archives Network: BarmS, FAB and BARTICK how to empower the archives management and archives use in Bangladesh in favour of Good Governance, Legal proof and planning and History research and generally the Right To Information of citizens. Akmal Sarkar Raju does not know where the Saidpur Town archives of 1870 – 1958 are stored, or maybe when they were transferred to District Collectorate Records Room or even destroyed? Where are the Mayor’s and Councilors Resolution Books? Latest volume secretary / sojib shows us: 2011 initiated. Agenda, lists of subjects of the meetings of Mayor and Councilor are shown by Sojib / secretary Ashish Kumar Sarkar. All these information generally is sent to ministry of LGD. Citizens can see these registers, as according to the RTI Act 2009, sojib / secretary says. Elias and Florus made pictures of the Resolutions book and the Notice Book. As well as the Inspection Book 1992. Index, inventory, files register have to be created and kept, advises from Florus and Elias to the sojib / secretary. At this moment only a file register for running files is available. Finding the previous files is not possible now. It is quite encouraging that the secretary knows in detail how the Saidpur Archives Management system is working. That means that secretary gives importance to the archival information system. This could be a result of the 2009 imposed RTI Act. A Staffs register has been initiated in January 2015. On Florus’ question about the size of staffs, sojib / secretary and Akmal Sarkar and Mamoon reply: 37 permanent plus 86 non – permanent staffs; as well as 192 sweepers and cleaning staffs. Mamoon, 26 yrs, is working on computer management, website and portal. Municipality on 34 km2; 15 wards. About 2 lakhs inhabitants, sojob tells, while asked by Elias and Florus. Voters: 83.000. In Census 2011: 1 lakh 63.503 inhabitants and 81.371 voters. According to the Elections File 2012. In this Elections File one may find also decisions and regulations made by the Mayor on postering, microphone using etc for propaganda to the voters by political party workers. Sojib tells that their archives system is still only HARD COPY, not yet digitalized.  14.12 pm Mamoon shows his laptop (secretary / sojob is NOT yet using laptop / computer, although only 55 years old), Mamoon works with MIS = Municipality Information Service, see website address on list: divisional !!  23 Saidpur, no English version. Important is for measuring the development level of archives system in Saidpur Municiality,  that the Secretary / sojib is capable to explain their archival system. In the Resolutions Book we will find also results of the meetings of Mayor and Councillors.

14 January 14.22 pm: Paurashava Library & Old Archives

Visit of inspection and advice. Akmal Sarkar Raju, librarian assistant  and Mamoon as well as Elias, Zobair and Florus entered Library building, part of it very old (c. 1890, Mogul / colonial British Style) building. Akmal has stored in library hall and reading room in old wooden almira several old records, about 3 meter. Birth Registers dating back to 1958. In bad material condition, but Akmal has tried his best to preserve these documents. Florus gives advise to store these archives more safely in steel almiras and take care for more dehumidified, more dry  air. Florus and Elias advise Akmal and Mamoon to make a list / index or inventory with descriptions of these archival documents and pack these archives in covers. Numbering and describing. And make this list / index in Word document on computer. You can immediately make this list accessible by the website of Saidpur. Akmal also stored in another room of these old library  about 10 meter old archives. Among these: Birth registration records, created since 2006. As well as collected newpapers.


Draft report by Florus Geraedts on visit with Elias kanchon to Dinajpur Press Club,Sunday 10 January
January 11, 2016, 12:16 am
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Elias Kanchon and Florus Geraedts have met members of Dinajpur Pressclub Sunday 10 january 2016 from 5 pm till 7.15 pm in Dinajpur Pressclub Building. Minnat and Lutful informed us about members of Pressclub to meet like Doctor Golam Gaus Mintu and Dulal. We discussed the meaning of information in Bangladeshi culture and society, as well as in govenments functioning or govenments working. Information in Bangladesh is often politeness: your guest is welcome an should NOT be bothered by LONG journeys. So you cannot say “it will take 5 hours travelling”. You just say “it’s 2 hours travelling”. This is not misinforming the guest, but a token of politeness and respect for your guest. That you want him NOT to bother about the LONG distance for travelling. But this attitude of politeness is a problem in a government setting when proper information is needed for otherwise proper and useful planning becomes impossible. Planning and organizing public services and maintainment  of roads and sewerage systems is impossible without reliable information. Information is found in ARCHIVES! But Bangladesh has a weak tradition on building and maintaining ARCHIVES.

Information also should reach the WHOLE people of a state / society. But elite in Bangladesh hardly has any idea about what general people think and want. In this respect the Right to Information Act (RTI Act) of 2009 (legal basis of the Right To Know of each Bangladeshi citizen) is an important step forward. Journalists are professionally spoken, real experts on information: why needed? What is information’s influence on man’s behavior and concern, as well as opinion? Archives should be discussed locally: what does information, as well as archives mean in LOCAL community?

Here the Pressclub is a real useful tool: a pressclub is a kind of local parliament so to say. An informal meeting-  and discussion platform for journalists and other socially involved and concerned persons. Bangladeshi local communities do have hundreds of local Pressclubs. This instrument is most helpful in public thinking and public debate. In this area the Right To Information and the Right To Know , which NEEDS Archives Management and  easily accessible archives, are the main and central issue.

We hope to cooperate between Pressclub Dinajpur and Friends of Archives Bangladesh (FAB), Bangladesh Archives and Right To Information Community Kishoreganj (BARTICK) and Bangladesh Archives & Records Management Society (BARMS), as well as the National Archives of Bangladesh.

Participants were: Shamim Reza, journalist of Daily Dainik Janatha; Morshedul Rahman, journalist of OnlineNews; Asad Ullah Sarkar, Prothom Alo; Golam Nobi Dulal, TV Somoy.


Facebookgroup Archives Training Institute Bangladesh (ATIB) opened by Elias kanchon
January 2, 2016, 5:57 pm
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On behalf of establishment of the future Archives Training Institute Bangladesh (ATIB), Elias Kanchon opened a new facebook account on ATIB:  It’s an open group with already 52 members.

You’re invited to post your visions, ideas and practical activities related to the further development and construction of this training institute. A pilot project of Dutch BARM (2016 – 2018) supports this establishment of ATIB. 

Elias Kanchon’s words: We want to create an organization for building of practical & theoretical knowedge on archives management”. A seminar about ATIB will be held in in February 2016. Elias invites you to share your ideas and opinion!


Visit of Florus Geraedts & Elias Kanchon on behalf of FAB / BARMS to Rajshahi: Bangladesh Police Academy (BPA) and Boro Kuthi with delegates of RCC
January 2, 2016, 5:43 pm
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In Rajshahi, 31 december 2015, Elias Kanchon and I discussed with Lezar, the new Principal of Bdesh Police Academy in Sardah and 22 staff members (mainly SP’s) about the progress of the Archives building program in this old institution, 1912 established, and residing in a building which once 200 years ago was used by tradesmen, connected with the former Dutch East India Company VOC. Archives are actually the nerve system, the nerves network – not in human body, but in an organisation: almost unvisibly archives are containing connections, data exchange as well, between all members of the organisation’s community: in this case Principal, teachers, staff officers, students and the Highest Police authorities in Dhaka. This understanding must become part of the general mentality of BPA’s members and community. Archives furthermore are a basic tool for functioning of Police departments all over the country. Archives Management should also become part of the BPA educational programme. A BPA archives repository (archives room with racks for storing archives and a reading room facility for users of the files and documents) has been established, the storage of archives from all different departments of the BPA has been initiated. Now the describing and indexing of these archives, as well as packing properly in boxes has to be undertaken. Therefor, a archivist must be appointed, and trained initially by Lezar’s Desktop IT. This training program, developed by Lezar and Sumon, will also provide in creating skills on Digital Archives Managing.The Principal of BPA, DIG mr Amullah Bhushan Barua promised to take adequate measures in this respect. 3 January 2016 Further training will be provided by Florus for the clerical (civilian) staffs of the BPA.


1 january 2016 Elias Kanchon and Florus were invited by Khaza Khaled Lezar to participate in the presentation ceremony in Rajshahi of a new 24 hours digital News website: Attention was given to the crucial meaning of information spreading and using in order to establish and to maintain democracy. In this respect archives of government, judicial organisations, police authorities, educational institutions and hospitals, as well as NGO’s on social development are vital. Good Governance without archives is absolutely impossible. RTI Act 2009 (Right To Information Act) provided with proper Archives Management on all levels, will facilitate really everybody’s Right To Know.


Elias Kanchon and Florus will furthermore give attention to the preservation of Boro Kuthi, near River Poddha, national Heritage of Bangladesh in colonal and post independance time (basis of Rajshahi University since 1952).