The roundtable discussion arranged under the title ‘Reimagining education for a rapidly changing world’ and moderated by the BYLC founder and President Ejaj Ahmed put the present education system under a scanner and examined teachers' roles in bridging the skill gaps that have resulted in unemployment and underemployment.
The purpose of education
As the chief guest, Dr Gowher Rizvi, International Affairs Adviser to the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, defined the purpose of education in a precise manner.
“If one can train and discipline his/her mind so that s/he could gain the ability to question, that's education for that person.”
“About 65 percent of the jobs that people do today didn’t exist just a few decades ago. So we don’t know what lies ahead,” Rizvi said.
Renowned educator and the founder of Bishwo Shahitto Kendra Abdullah Abu Sayeed said, since independence, Bangladesh has achieved a lot in the education sector.
“Around 40 million children in our country are going to school now. That’s a huge achievement.”
“I have been intricately attached with designing the creative curriculum and I know that many have been censuring this saying that the teachers are not ready to impart knowledge in creative manner as they lack the skills. I say that we have to learn it through trial and error basis and soon we will be able to reap the benefit from this creative curriculum.”
The education system
Speaking on the occasion, Md Alamgir, Secretary, Technical and Madrassa Education Division, Ministry of Education said that although there are many challenges, we're moving in a positive direction.
“It is heartening to see principals from all education mediums participating in this discussion together. Collaboration across different sectors will be essential to transform youth development in Bangladesh,” he said.
He drew everyone's attention with an example practiced in China, where young students are allowed to pursue their preferred subjects. “I have visited schools in China and I have seen that instead of classroom educations, students there are given the chance to explore their inner potential.”
He also said that in Philippines, he has seen that the students are not allowed to take the books back home from school. “Students finish all their tasks at school and go home. They said that home is for family time.”
Echoing the words of Md Alamgir, most of the other educators at the event said that we need to understand the world trends and formulate the curriculum accordingly. Dr Umme Salema Begum, Principal of Udayan Higher Secondary School, said there is no doubt that the main purpose of education is earning livelihood.
“In Malaysia, they have a slogan that reads 'Education for industrial revolution'. What do we have? Nothing. I think it’s time to be more focused.”
Brig Gen MM Salehin, Principal of Rajuk Uttara Model School and College said, for two lakh jobs, two million able people enter into the Bangladeshi job market on a yearly basis. “Still we hear that there's a lack of skilled professionals. This is because our education system has flaws. It doesn’t create thinkers.”
Farzana Ahmed, Principal of Lakehead Grammar School said, “We still believe in spoon-feeding education. The schools are being replaced with coaching centres here. This is alarming. We should try to bridge the gap. We should also try to implement activity based learning.”
Mufti Abu Yusuf, Principal of Tamirul Millat Kamil Madrassa stated that we do not seem to realise that providing affordable education to all is one of the primary obligations of a state. “If effective steps are not taken immediately to ensure quality education, this country will be left behind and dreams of generations to come will go unanswered.”
Discussing the global phenomena of communal intolerance, the roundtable also explored how educational institutions can prepare today’s youth to develop an inclusive mindset.