Whilst the positive assessments of Bangladesh's progress are true to an extent, it is primarily a testament to the astute branding that has held together the political base of the Awami League. But it is necessary to point out the limitations that exist in Bangladesh's socio-economic affairs. And these expectations are interestingly centred around people, rather than material resources. As such, promoting and singularly prioritizing human capital growth, through the initiation of a knowledge economy is surely the path Bangladesh must take to be a truly sustainable economy.
A knowledge economy determines consumption, production and growth through dependence on the quantity, quality and accessibility of intellectual capital. The basic awareness for making our high population a strength through tangible investments in human capital growth, rather than continuously recognizing it as a weakness, sets the right course for a vibrant education curriculum. Once we recognize the importance of spotlighting individuals over finding sectors to assimilate their skills in, Bangladesh can initiate the process of accumulating the knowledge economy.
After recognition, the next step is public policy. Given the division of the schooling system into private and public education, the state itself needs a two-pronged approach. The first is internal growth within the public-sector education platform. The second is a consensus for reducing the brain drain. The core problem lies in the quality of the curricula, more than the system itself.
For state-level education across all age levels, the government has to consider a revamp, rather than a total repeal and replace approach. Therefore, from within the existing structure of academia, the state has a responsibility to build students from the ground up, through diversifying existing subjects and introducing new programs. Recent investments in the ICT sector is the kind of approach needed to create the ultimate knowledge economy, and one must commend the government for this.
On the other hand, the problems of fragilities in our national institutions, the wide scale post-graduate youth unemployment and the occupational immobility of its students also need to be dealt with. We can start to do that from the core foundation. Students aged 16 or above need to gather experience of what a working environment is like. Whether it be public-private partnerships to create volunteering platforms for secondary and higher secondary level students, or introducing summer internship programs across national institutions to generate basic interest in government and governance, it should not be immensely difficult for the government to enact the required legislations.
A knowledge economy determines consumption, production and growth through dependence on the quantity, quality and accessibility of intellectual capital
Imagine a student enrolled in geography in the HSC level getting a two-month experience to work alongside geographers at the National Meteorological Department, and the resulting skills and knowledge he or she will retain consequently. The ideal roadmap within the public sector should include three basic steps. The first is introducing and revamping diversified subjects, ranging from the sciences to the arts, starting from primary education to wherever the reach of the state ends. Secondly, introducing openings to build skills and employ education learned in classrooms to a professional setting from an early age. Thirdly and most importantly, making stipulated hours of volunteering or internships a mandatory part of the SSC and HSC curricula, will institutionalize the process of investment in human capital.
Whilst we have not delved into how this country can retain its so called 'elite' students, the creation of state-based opportunities for school-goers will push many of the Footsteps and JAAGO volunteers towards participating in the public sector, whilst encouraging those in the private sector to work side-by-side with the Government towards creating even greater ventures for the youth. The progressive environment and access to foreign education some of these individuals are exposed to, opens their eyes to a creative, liberal and inclusive society which Bangladesh should dream of achieving.
Ultimately, the necessary path to a sustainable development, where a versatile education system produces innovative leaders, is through a nationwide emphasis on building the ultimate knowledge economy.
Chosen as a Best Entry at A Paper for Progress, an international essay contest organised by Edge, the Foundation in Bangladesh. Discover the complete work on Edgethefoundation.com