Abdul Quddus obituary | Communities

My father-in-law, Abdul Quddus, who died aged 80, was Education Officer for Leeds City Council for many years. He and his wife, Parveen, were also social entrepreneurs, creating secular organizations aimed at enabling all communities to fully participate in the social, cultural and civic life of the city.

During the 1980s and 1990s, Leeds communities of Southeast Asian origin still had poor educational and occupational outcomes, with high unemployment and low-skilled jobs. Abdul has worked to address this problem by obtaining government funding and establishing Bangladeshi, Pakistani and other centers in the city, run by members of these communities and helping them access adult education, aid social and housing assistance. The centers were non-religious, with equal rights and responsibilities for women and young people.

Abdul and Parveen have also helped establish voluntary and community organizations such as the Bengali cultural society Purobi, a women’s empowerment project, Asha, and a Bengali language school for children.

Born in Pabna, Bangladesh, Abdul was the son of Nurul Islam and Halima Nur. After school, he received a BA from Dhaka Agricultural College (1964) and then an MA (1968) from Mymensingh Agricultural University (now called Bangladesh Agricultural University).

He married Parveen Akhtar in 1972 and they traveled to Leeds that year. He obtained an MA in Economics from the University of Leeds in 1973, with a focus on the rural economy of developing countries.

Whilst working on a PhD, he volunteered with the Leeds Citizens Advice Bureau, leading to a post as Education Officer with Leeds City Council, from 1983 becoming Principal Education Officer. In addition to the usual duties, he worked on specific projects to support newcomers from Southeast Asia. In 1988, he created 40 teaching assistant positions for members of these communities so that parents could better support their children at school. He also helped appoint a number of black and minority ethnic headteachers in Leeds.

Thanks to his work, today many people of Bangladeshi origin living in Leeds are in professional jobs, in academia or successful entrepreneurs. Abdul has also ensured that more people from Bame’s communities are qualified to work in youth worker and education roles on the council.

After retiring in 1999, he undertook consultancy work on mentoring projects for disadvantaged young people. This was funded by the EU and he traveled to a number of European countries including Hungary, Greece and Norway.

A humanist, Abdul loved Bengali classical music and poetry, as well as the writings of Rabindranath Tagore. He and Parveen would appear in Bengali plays through the Purobi cultural society.

A role model for young people, Abdul would quote the words of Barack Obama “Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and do good things, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.

Abdul is survived by Parveen, their daughter, Archi, and their grandson, Sobitha.

Comments are closed.