Recently, a new slogan for the fourth industrial revolution got significant to the newspaper, writings and civil society discussions, like a talk show and from political leaders. It has been recurrently uttered even by the prime minister on different occasions making the issue popular and vibrant. An agitation has been created worldwide around this issue, and created wave reaches the nations making them enthusiastic.
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The Education System in Bangladesh: What Policy Says
The education system in Bangladesh consists of three phases: primary, secondary and tertiary levels. In addition to the mainstream, technical education and Madrasa are the parallel education system that runs, ensuring equivalency at respective levels. Education Policy 2010 is the latest paper where the policy and position of education in Bangladesh has been denoted elaborately and illustrated the guideline through which the curriculum and programs can be designed and organised.
In that paper, there are 30 points on objectives, aims and urges that convey the notion of the education system in Bangladesh. The primary, secondary and tertiary education systems have been designed and organised based on these aims and objectives.
Among these 30 points, we can have a look at two and analyse that illustrate the expectation regarding human resource development, economic and social progress. Let us see:
Point 6: To construct education as a system of creativity, application-oriented and supportive for economic and social progress; prepare students as a personality with scientific attitude…
Point 11: To develop high level skill in different stages and subjects in education to ensure successful participation in different issues globally.
Grounding on such policies, the curriculums have been developed. Now we have to explore, whether the skills gained by the students from this system are sufficient (or not) to face the challenges derived from the global changes. We should be concerned about the working population and are capable enough to combat the challenges especially derived from the ongoing fourth industrial revolution.
Why Education for Industrial Revolution: Widespread still should Recall
How do we generate newfangled knowledge? How do we resolve problems? How do we explore our globe and universe to make our lives easier, comfortable and resist evil events to save our lives? The response is only education and technology, and the significance of education is known, but still, it demands to recall more and more.
Education will build our human resources, and enable them to face and expedite the cycle of the fourth industrial revolution. Education is the derivation of new knowledge and information. It is the power that will enable us to grasp the speed of ultimate changes; otherwise, we will be lacking behind in the development stream.
The Newly Commenced Curriculum and Ongoing Industrial Revolution
Modifying and developing the curriculum is routine work, and it is essential to reach the changes in the world, getting organised for multiple challenges and innovating new ways. But already, the deficiency of preparedness to commence a new curriculum and approach has been revealed and confused the pertinent stakeholders.
Perhaps, a shortage of time was a reason to make it flawless, but the drawback has already made some damage. The teachers are not prepared and ambiguous to make it happen in their respective fields. We must make it clear, meaning-worthy and relevant about how it will face the challenges of the fourth industrial revolution.
It is not the proper time to deliver comments on the newly commenced curriculum. Still, it seems to be special somewhere, particularly in doing assessments. It is unique in Bangladesh and typically different from the previous practices. The introduction assessment system will contribute to measuring the achieved competencies, prepare the student to be practical, resist rote learning and twist the teachers with curriculum competencies.
All these are virtuous news, but we are concerned about the upcoming days that convey a rapid and multifaceted transformation in the use of technologies.
The Call for the Fourth Industrial Revolution
Revolution means profound and prevalent modification, that changes the lifestyle, attitude, customs of technologies, work environment, and even thinking ability and extents. The previous three industrial revolutions were grounded on water, steam, electricity, and electronic and information technology.
The mode of application and the consequent change was much clear of the previous revolutions in action, but this ongoing fourth industrial revolution which has been started in the middle of the last century, could not unfold what shapes and vicissitudes it brings. But one manifestation is exquisitely vibrant, and that response to it is more multifaceted and comprehensive, involving all stakeholders. It is characterised by a fusion of technologies that is an accumulation of usages of physical, digital and biological spheres, but still, we are yet to know.
The increasing interconnectivity and smart automation are the consequences of rapid change in technology, industries and the progressions and pattern of society, that is the notion of this prodigious industrial revolution. The involvement of canny technologies like artificial intelligence, gene editing, and advanced robotics made the lines between the physical, digital and biological worlds hazy.
It is a vital swing in operating traditional manufacturing and industrial practices through means of modern smart technology, huge-scale machine-to-machine communication, and the Internet of Things. Having this composite integration impacts increasing automation, communication and self-monitoring. It also brings the utilisation of smart machines that can analyse and diagnose issues without the requirement for human intervention. This frequently uttered revolution embodies a social, political and economic alteration from the digital age to an era embedded connectivity illustrious as well as eminent by the prevalence of technological society.
Are we equipped to accept the vicissitudes and grasp the benefits yielded by it?
Agriculture: The Previous base of Bangladesh’s Economy
In the time of independence, the GDP in Bangladesh was mainly based on agriculture. Most of the people were involved in agriculture, and a maximum of the labours were agriculture grounded. But the situation is changing, and the role of labours is also being shifted to diversified areas, including industry and intellectual areas like freelancing, ICT etc. Getting such shifting and creating new avenues, the section of the contribution of agriculture in GDP has been shrinker, and hence now it is 11.5% (BBS, 2022).
So, GDP growth is not dependent on only agriculture; simultaneously, the labours are not twisted with agriculture to sell their labours. It’s a transitional moment of national migration from agriculture to industry, physical labour to intellectual labour. This change demands the innovative knowledge and skill of the working population. Here, education gets the welcome to make its footprint which is the ultimate source of improvement.
How We are Lack Behind: Some Examples
As per the TIB research report, 5 -10 lacs (0.5 – 1 million) of foreign people work in Bangladesh, and due to this huge number of foreign employees, 5 -10 billion US dollars are going out from Bangladesh (TIB, 2020). When 47% of the educated population is unemployed (economic intelligence unit, 2014), many foreign employees work in Bangladesh. The situation has been created due to the competencies demanded for the positions the foreign employees hold; Bangladeshi workers may not cover all those.
In addition, Bangladesh’s unemployment is higher than other counties in South Asia, as per the World Bank and ILO reports. This is the implication of a lack of intended skills in human resources. Whether the local working population can meet the job market requirements in Bangladesh, foreign people may not get the chance to fill the gap.
The slogan for digitalisation was another area that created curiosity for a decade. But what about the present situation and how much the local resources combat the demand created in the job market? Let us have a look at some of the instances:
- NBR is going to purchase software from UAE to modernise their customs services (Prothom Alo, 5 July 2023). Meaning, local companies are not capable enough to provide the services. Alternatively, some organisations also show interest in purchasing services or equipment from foreign companies instead of giving opportunities to local resources.
- BTRC is going to purchase materials and services of around 77 crore takas from a Canada-based organisation (Teck Shahar, 21 March 2023).
- In the banking sector and many other sectors, we use digital materials collected from many foreign sources. If the services are available in the local market, the organisations may not collect these from foreign origins, accepting a huge loss of foreign currencies.
It is already a made conscience, aspiration and anticipation for a knowledge-based society. This is obviously a positive sign. The created wave and agitation around the fourth industrial revolution should be nurtured carefully to grasp an enriched, innovative and intellectually smart nation.