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The Global Knowledge Index: Bangladesh Gets the Lowest in South Asia

Global Knowledge Index

Global Knowledge Index

Bangladesh carries a heroic history to be independent and it has substantial reason to be proud of it. After getting the independence, Bangladesh had to face many challenges; some of them are natural and some are manmade. Nevertheless, Bangladesh has achieved some substantial progress, especially in economy and in many indicators of social aspect. After separation from Pakistan, Bangladesh elevated life expectancy, per capita income, women empowerment and in many other economic and social aspects compared to Pakistan. Having these significant progresses, the people of Bangladesh has demonstrated that they deserve the independence and they can make it meaningful. But in one area, Bangladesh could not prove itself and it sets in equivalent position as in Pakistan. Very recently, the report on Global Knowledge Index has been published jointly by UNDP and the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation and it shows, Bangladesh is the lowest in South Asia and achieved the same score as for Pakistan.

What is Global Knowledge Index 

The Global Knowledge Index (GKI) is a worldwide tracking system of knowledge produced annually since 2017. It is a summary measure for tracking the knowledge performance of countries at the level of seven areas, namely pre-university education, technical and vocational education and training, higher education, research, development and innovation, information and communications technology, economy and the general enabling environment.

Even though getting some variations in its use and meaning, the GKI aims to introduce a more systematic understanding of knowledge by breaking down the concept into its constituent components, thus recognizing the multidimensional nature of knowledge systems in all contexts and applications relating to economic and social structures. This allows a more meaningful and insightful exploration of knowledge policies in relation to different sectors.

The GKI having 199 indicators, provides a systematic tool for guiding and informing policymakers, researchers, civil society and the private sector to collaborate on different aspects of policies to foster knowledge-based societies and bridge knowledge gaps (UNDP, 2020).

Position of Bangladesh in Global Knowledge Index

In the year 2020, Global Knowledge Index (GKI) covered 138 countries, among these Switzerland topped the index with a score of 73.6 and USA attained the second-place scoring 71.1. Having the 138 countries, Bangladesh dropped into the bottom and achieved the 112th position. Scoring 35.9 Bangladesh gets the lowest position in South Asia and India achieved the first position getting the score 44.4 and 75th in the world. The table below shows the worldwide place, GKI and sectoral score of South Asian countries which were covered by GKI survey:

CountryPlace in the worldPre-University EducationTechnical & Vocational Education & TrainingHigher EducationResearch, Development & InnovationInformation & Communication TechnologyEconomyGeneral Enabling EnvironmentGlobal knowledge Index
Sri Lanka8769.843.730.817.346.13360.242.1

The score achieved by Bangladesh reveals the deficiency in many levels of education system, as the GKI tracking system covers many areas with its seven aspect of measuring tool; namely pre-university education, technical vocational education and training, higher education, research development and innovation, information and communication technology, economy and general enabling environment. Although, GKI possesses some social indicators, it focuses mainly on the education performance and we can perceive the inefficiency of education system of Bangladesh as it achieved only 35.9. It is to be notified that this score is far low than the world average which is 46.7 and again it reveals the dimness of our education system.

Findings of Sectoral Indices

Pre-University Education

Surprisingly Sri Lanka and Nepal achieved 34th & 35th position where UK possess 40th and Australia 45th as well. Here Pakistan is ahead of Bangladesh getting 113th position and Bangladesh stands on 117th with the score of 42.9.

Technical and Vocational Education

This is the only sector where Bangladesh performed a bit satisfactorily with 69th position in the world having the score 49, although India is much ahead getting 38th position.

Higher Education

This is the area of shame for Bangladesh as it obtained 129th position with a score of 24.1. It is even much lower from some African countries like Uganda and Burkina Faso which countries ranks 103 and 104th position respectively.

Research, Development and Innovation

Here India possesses 44th position and Bangladesh is on 96th with the score of 16.4; revealing one of the weakest area where Bangladesh has to pay great attention.

Information and Communication Technology

In South Asia, India, Sri Lanka and even Bhutan is ahead of Bangladesh although we are delighted with digital development. Bangladesh possesses 97th place in the world with the score of 43.1 that denotes, despite much initiative we have to go long way.


Surprisingly Singapore, an Asian country ranks ahead of all countries in the world where USA possesses 9th position. Here India, Bhutan and Sri Lanka and even Pakistan is ahead of Bangladesh, which accomplished the score of 31.5 ranking 114th place in the world. 

General Enabling Environment

Sri Lanka is highest in South Asia having the score of 60.2 and ranks 64th globally, where Bangladesh ranks 115th with the score of 46.4.

All these findings revealed out the strong and weak areas of Bangladesh and having this standing, the country has to improve a lot for achieving a pleasing status. In most of the ranges, Bangladesh did not accomplish satisfactorily compared to other countries in the world and even in South Asia.

Crying for Quality Education

Quality education is a long-term issue in Bangladesh which has been demanded from every corners of the society including scholars, civil society, education activists, teachers and parents. Quantity and quality both are important for education, nonetheless the actions accomplished in the days beforehand got the focus mainly on quantity rather than quality. The rate of pass in the exam and number of GPA 5 had been highlighted and all arrangements emphasized on increasing the rate, ignoring the actual learning performance of the learners. Now all these actions back fired and the result is being revealed out through many avenues, one of these is GKI performance.

What Should We Do?

In the country profile of Bangladesh in GKI report, there is comment on achievement of Bangladesh and its strength and areas of improvement. This is actually the assessment comment and recommendation for Bangladesh from GKI point of view.

Bangladesh is a weak performer in terms of its knowledge infrastructure. It ranks 112th out of 138 countries in the Global Knowledge Index 2020and 19th out of the 24 countries with medium human development.

Areas of Strength

Areas of Improvement

A detail picture has been portraited through the findings of sectoral indices and the areas to be improved as recommended in GKI report for Bangladesh. So, we should analyze all these sectors from our perspective and issues should be taken in planning and implementation as well. Without pin point analysis of the weak areas and not having real drive and endeavor, positive change would not be assured.

Achieving much more quantitatively, Bangladesh has to pay attention on education quality now. Not only in primary and secondary levels, the quality for education should be ensured also in higher education, research and innovation. Bangladesh stands on the stream of industrialization which demands for skill human resources; meaning the learning should be application oriented, innovative and technology friendly. As per Economist Unit Intelligence report, the rate of unemployment of educated people is highest in Bangladesh; revealing the significant issue that we cannot provide the education which carries market value.

The applicability value of education is very important, which education we should convey to the learners. Development cannot be sustainable without development of education and technology. So, our curriculum and text materials should be revised in all levels, make sure the application of knowledge as per modern market demand and adaptability. In addition, opportunity should be created for research and innovation by increasing mobilization and allocation of resources, aiming for creating new knowledge and technology.   

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