Education has to be much more relevant, equitable, and inclusive, while the existing curriculum should include job specific practical knowledge and life skills related chapters, they added
Transformation of Bangladesh’s education system and the development of skilled, job market-oriented manpower is a must to utilise the full potential of the country’s youth, youth leaders and experts have said.
Education has to be much more relevant, equitable, and inclusive, while the existing curriculum should include job specific practical knowledge and life skills related chapters, they added.
The comments were made during a roundtable titled “Transforming Education as the Scope of Skills Development Opportunities for Youth,” held at Dhaka Tribune’s conference room on Thursday.
The roundtable was organised by the Bangladesh chapter of leading independent international development organisation Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO), in association with Dhaka Tribune, as part of the celebration of International Youth Day.
It was organised under a project of international citizen service; the project being funded by UKAID.
MH Tansen, head of schools of the education program at British Council Bangladesh, moderated the roundtable, while VSO Bangladesh Program Manager Tazeen Hossain chaired the event.
More than 95% students passed the Primary School Certificate (PSC) exams, but their results in the National Student Assessment for Grades 3 and 5 is quite different, said Tasen.
Less than one quarter of the students were found to have achieved their grade level competencies, and this is decreasing over the years, he added.
The situation is similar in the Junior School Certificate (JSC) exams, with students performing well in the exams but struggling in the Learning Assessment of Secondary Institutions. This indicates that the students are not learning, despite achieving good scores.
“If we want to transform education, education has to be much more relevant, equitable and inclusive,” Tasen said.
Md Hatem Ali, deputy manager at ActionAid Bangladesh, said there is little focus on practical knowledge in the existing curriculum, and an environment that enables the learning of practical skills is mandatory in the transformation of the education system.
“Decentralization of skill development initiatives by the government is also required,” he suggested.
Tosiba Kashem, project coordinator at Oxfam Bangladesh, demanded a gender responsive education system and skill development.
She urged the government to introduce a national platform for the youth to share their thoughts on skill development.
SK Roqibul Hasan, an official of the skill development program of BRAC, said job specific skills should be included in the curriculum in Bangladesh.
Stressing on the need for digital literacy, British Council Bangladesh official Nusrat Jahan Milki said: “We may have multimedia classrooms in the country, but there needs to be monitoring to check whether the classrooms are used to their full potential.”
ActionAid Bangladesh Manager Najmul Ahsan said the education policy was enacted in 2010, but is yet to be fully implemented. “There needs to be a focus on the existing structure, and optimum utilization of policies that are already in effect.”
VSO Alumni member Joseph Mahtab stressed on the need for bringing education more in line with real life situations, to enhance the employability of the youth.
Alamgir Kabir, from Plan International, said the curriculum does contain some chapters related to practical knowledge, but these have not been updated with the times.
“We also need to ensure accessibility for people with disabilities in the mainstream education system,” he added.
Mohd Habibur Rahman, CEO and managing director of Connect Markets, said: “We have miserably failed to capture the demands of the labour market. If we really need to transform the education system, we need to actively engage the private sector.”
Dr Mohammed Jahangir Hossain, director (Planning and Development) and project director of the Generation Breakthrough Project of the Directorate of Secondary & Higher Education Bangladesh, said there is no alternative to residential training, and such training needs to include life skills training and gender sensitivity to be effective.
VSO Bangladesh Program Manager Tazeen Hossain said VSO is working in Bangladesh to ensure an enabling environment for the youth, so that they can get decent work and develop viable enterprises.
She also urged for private and public stakeholders to be more involved in the process of transforming the education system.
Md Shafiqur Rahman, project manager of WYEE at VSO Bangladesh, presented a study on the labour market in Bangladesh at the roundtable.
Md Forkhan Uddin, country director at VSO Bangladesh, requested everyone to collaborate together and to help fulfil the objective of the roundtable in days ahead.
VSO volunteers and alumni members also addressed the roundtable, with representatives from Jaago Foundation, Save the Children, and Dhaka Ahsania Mission in attendance.