Syed Samad Ali, 50, currently works at both Thornhill and Southmoor academies where he teaches Bengali to the city’s children.
However it is for his work in the city’s Bengali community helping to make education accessible for children and in particular their parents that Syed Samad Ali has been nominated for his MBE.
Syed Samad Ali, who lives in High Barnes, has created his own Bengali text books, “to enhance lessons”, and his work teaching GCSE languages has been recognised by Durham University, which invited him and his pupils to participate in the 2022 North East Festival of Languages.
Syed Samad Ali moved to Sunderland from Bangladesh 23-years-ago and after being informed of his honour, he said: “I was contacted by the Cabinet Office and asked if I would accept. I couldn’t believe it at first. I’ve not heard of any other Bengali receiving an MBE – maybe I’m the first?
“I’m proud to get this honour and so is the city’s Bengali community.
“I recently travelled to London and went to see the outside of Buckingham Palace and so to know I’m now going to be going inside to receive my MBE is unbelievable.
“I do this because I don’t want disadvantaged children or anyone with a language barrier to miss out on the opportunities education can bring.”
A key area of Syed Samad Ali’s work is supporting parents and families of children in the Bengali community. This includes acting as a translator at parents’ evenings, setting up weekend community language classes and working with the city’s Central Mosque to support parents unfamiliar with the British education system.
Syed Samad Ali said: “For the current generation, English is their first language but this is not the case for parents and grandparents, around 50 per cent of whom don’t have access to the English language.
“Parents need help in terms of communicating how their children are doing in school and any support they may need.”
Syed is now eagerly awaiting the date he will be travelling to the capital to receive his MBE.