The education system in Bangladesh needs to change

It is important that Bangladesh focuses on improving the quality of its education – the kind of education that will help individuals acquire the knowledge and skills to meet all the needs of today’s jobs and of tomorrow. File photo: star

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the education system needs to change

It is important that Bangladesh focuses on improving the quality of its education – the kind of education that will help individuals acquire the knowledge and skills to meet all the needs of today’s jobs and of tomorrow. File photo: star

In Bangladesh, although primary education is free and the government provides textbooks, more than 4.3 million children between the ages of 6 and 15 are out of school and about 42 million people – about 26% of population – are still illiterate. Also, while our enrollment rate is still high, the dropout rate is even higher. Data from the Bangladesh Bureau of Education Information and Statistics shows that in 2020 the dropout rate was 17.2% at primary level, 35.76% at secondary level and 21.16 % at upper secondary level. Most of these abandonments occur in rural areas. Because the quality of schools and the level of education are poor, many parents are reluctant to send their children to school. They find that the current educational system is of little use in practical life because neither the textbooks nor the curriculum are adapted to their situation or correspond to the demands of the current labor market.

In recent years, many experiments have been carried out in the name of modernizing and updating our primary, secondary and higher education. Yet the existing curriculum is not aligned with industry needs. As schools/colleges around the world focus more on soft skills such as team building, problem solving, critical thinking, communication, negotiation, decision making, etc., our system education is still stuck in the past.

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Research suggests that our apparel, real estate, telecommunications, information and technology sectors are facing a severe shortage of skilled labour. As a result, foreign workers are hired. There are no specific data on outbound remittances, but industry insiders say foreign nationals working in Bangladesh send a total of around $6 billion each year to their country.

Bangladesh has a vision to become a developed nation by 2041 and to achieve this we need skilled workers. But our education budget does not reflect the urgency of developing human resources. Our current spending on education is the lowest among South Asian countries. The country spends about 2% of its GDP on education, while India spends 4.6%, Afghanistan and the Maldives 4.1%, Nepal 5.2% and Bhutan spends 6.6% of their respective GDP for education. Despite calls from experts to increase the allocation to between four and six percent of GDP, we again saw a low allocation to education in the national budget for the financial year 2022-23.

Unesco recommends devoting 6% of GDP to the education sector. Bangladesh ranked 112th out of 138 countries in the 2020 Global Knowledge Index. It scored 35.9 – again the lowest among South Asian countries.

We all know that education is a major engine of development in any modern society and that the quality of workers is the determining factor of economic progress. Therefore, it is important for Bangladesh to focus on improving the quality of its education – the kind of education that will help individuals acquire the knowledge and skills to meet all the needs of today’s jobs. today and tomorrow.

The government has recently put more emphasis on establishing technical schools and colleges in different upazilas. Undoubtedly, vocational training could be an important element for future development and for reducing unemployment, inequality and poverty. But our policy makers need to understand that if a person’s basic education is weak, vocational training will be of little use to them. It is therefore necessary to rethink our primary, secondary and higher education. Pre-vocational education, education based on information and communication technologies (ICT) should be considered as a priority area for inclusion and development from secondary level (grade 9) to upper secondary level (grade 12 ), to provide a foundation of basic skills and knowledge that will help students develop technical skills, learn to apply knowledge, and be creative in their work. Also, we must keep in mind that the mere creation of technical schools and colleges is not enough. We must ensure that they have qualified teachers, laboratory facilities, safe and supportive learning environments and, most importantly, offer the most technical, professional and employment-oriented courses recent for young graduates.

Some people in our country tend to see our large population as an asset. It is undeniable that the population of a country is the greatest social capital it can have. But as the saying goes, “People without education are like weapons without bullets.” Research shows that currently around two-thirds of our total population is of working age, meaning the country is going through a “demographic window of opportunity”. To take advantage of this opportunity, our young people must be properly trained so that they can contribute to the development of the nation. Otherwise, Bangladesh may find it very difficult to achieve higher economic growth.

Abu Afsarul Haider is an entrepreneur.