Abstract: Education is a basic human right and considered by many as a key tool for national development. However, this tenet has been challenged by several economists, especially Pritchett (1996). His empirical analysis suggests that many countries, whilst having a large educated population, remain unable to make significant progress. It is also claimed that third world development is sluggish. These findings generate the question: while education increases globally, what exactly is it that hinders a country’s progression? There are no short answers, but a major area of concern is the type and quality of education vailable. Scholars argue that countries need a well‐diversified education system in order to gain sustainable development through education. This paper explores the situation for Bangladesh for its evelopment by providing technical and vocational education (Asia‐Pacific Journal of Cooperative ducation, 9(1), 25‐44).
Key Words: Employment Pattern, Human Capital, Job Market, National Development, Person Power, Rate of Return, Technical and Vocational Education.
EDUCATION AND NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Before considering the role of technical and vocational education (TVE) in Bangladesh, initially the concept of national development and justification for the choice of both the economic and community development indicators are examined.
Fagerlind and Saha (1989) argue that there is a value‐free meaning contained in the notion of development over and above the ideological and political uses of the concept. This value‐free meaning is thought to mean that:
|Country||HDI rank||GDP per Capita (PPPS)||Adult literacy||Education index rate||Life expectency||Corrupt country index placing1|
|Country||HDI rank||GDP per Capita (PPPS)||Adult literacy||Education index rate||Life expectency||Corrupt country index placing2|
The three theoretical perspectives outlined in the previous section consider education to be a key agent of national development, either as a way of developing human capacity, increasing the skilled workforce for modernization, or as a matter of personal freedom, developing capability and empowerment. From the 1940s onwards, and as noted above, education provision was either considered in terms of producing the requisite ‘person power’, which the country needed as an investment and which would yield both social and private rates of return, or as a response to social demand (Thomson, 1981). However, due to the popularity of more humanistic theories of development in the 1990s, the World Conference on Education for All (WCEFA) noted that there was a general realization that education was not only the key to economic development and human capacity/productivity building, but that it was also a basic human right (WCEFA, 1990).
− Individual creativity, improved participation in the economic, social and cultural roles in society;
− improved understanding of an individual and their respect for others, thus promoting social cohesion and material understanding;
− improvement in health and nutrition;
− improved chances of economic development;
− improved technological development;
− socio‐cultural change;
− democracy and equality; and
− ecological development/quality of life (increasing people’s awareness of their environments).
According to Alam (2007), human capital theory has powerful influence on the analysis of labor market. Alam notes that investment in education and training produces benefit both to the individual and to society as a whole. The return on investment for society will be a skilled workforce that will enable global competitiveness and economic growth, while the return of the individual will be a better career path, increased earning and a better quality of life.
− Well‐timed modern courses linked of local and global demand;
− relevant and up‐to‐date TVE courses need to be developed;
− proper justification in respect of individual country that at which level of schooling is best in offering TVE courses; and
− wider range of TVE courses need to be developed in terms of demand and cost effectiveness (not only for offering various courses but also for duration of the courses, for student classification in terms of their merit, ages, job market, etc.).
Lewin (1993, p. 14) claims that TVE seems to allow us to “kill several birds with the same stone.” Akyeampong (2002) points out that TVE in national educational system not only for its economic contribution but also for its cultural, social and political contribution. International Labor Organization (ILO) (2001) claims that TVE is intended as a bold and courageous step to undertake, with the changing scenario for economic life by developing human capital.
The discussion above indicate that offering different TVE programs may have a significant role to play in achieving national development, but suggest still Bangladesh has not made an ‘epoch‐making development’ of TVE. In this section, I discuss the current situation of TVE in Bangladesh.
Rafique (1996) says that present status of TVE in Bangladesh is such that we only offer old programs and topics. He suggests that Bangladesh needs to offer up‐to‐date programs such as information technology, computer science, e‐commerce and so on. Oxtoby (1997) likewise says that Bangladesh not only needs to restructure its TVE facilities, but also needs to restructure the TVE programs. Rafique (1996) reports that in Bangladesh 64% of technician level jobs are held by people without any formal education or training, and suggest that that if TVE in Bangladesh fails provide good programs with an up‐to‐date curriculum; they will likely lose credibility with the employers. Rafique’s arguments raise the question as to whether trained people can meet employer demands, or if employers feel a need to be involved in training people themselves. However, Moenjak and Worswick (2001) claim that although in some circumstances some employers do not bother recruiting trained people, the importance of skilled person power is unquestionable.
There are many barriers to the development of TVE in Bangladesh and these are summarized below:
− Most elite parents think that their children should not become a laborer. Even if their children are less academically able, parents try to push their children into higher education‐disobeying the law. Social elites and political leaders in Bangladesh do not bother much about the law. They also send their children to study abroad. In such circumstances, poor parents become disappointed about their children’s education (Alam, 2003, 2007);
− The quality of TVE is poor and cannot provide sufficient significant knowledge for jobs. Most of TVE schools are also located far from rural areas; meaning village students cannot have access to them easily (World Bank, 1991);
− Gallart (1988) claims students of TVE suffer anxiety about the purpose of TVE, being only preparing laborers to get more profit from them, saying it is a moral obligation to eradicate such anxiousness and help them understand that TVE has two roles ‐ preparing skilled manpower for the world of work, and opening the door for TVE students to pursue higher education with a solid foundation. Unfortunately, higher education is very limited for TVE school graduates in Bangladesh. In addition, once a student has a gap of two years academic study, he/she cannot enroll in further higher education. In these circumstances if a TVE graduate joins his/her job after completion of secondary and higher secondary education, he/she cannot come back into further education (Rafique, 1996);
− Higher educated people in general discipline areas can work at any place but higher educated people from TVE can only work in TV related placements, which is low in terms of social prestige. All boards, educational enterprises, and other organizations are under the control of their mother organization named ministry. The head of the ministries is the honorable minister who is appointed politically so he/she does not need prerequisite qualifications. The second head of the ministries is the secretary, who must have the general educational background and mainly secretary controls the ministries even if it is ‘Ministry of Science and Technology. Therefore the top authorities enjoy the respect and favor of general graduates rather than TVE graduates. In these circumstances TVE graduates are socially neglected so bright students do not have much interest in studying TVE (Rafique, 1996); and
− Providing good TVE needs more money for practical workshop facilities, and also demands industrial attachments for internships (World Bank, 1990). Lauglo and Lillis (1988) say that vocational and practical subjects ‘pedagogic systems have unusually multifarious expensive requirements (such as equipments materials, resources, curriculum, support system, personnel, managements requirements, etc.), which are not easily met. As a poor country, achieving a high budget for education is a real challenge for Bangladesh. It is also added that budget for TVE is very low in comparison with other sectors of education (BANBEIS, 2007). The present distribution of government revenue budget on TVE is a lowly 1.4% and development budget is only 4.3% (see Figures 4 and 5).
The World Bank (2002) notes that political leaders of Bangladesh have no strong commitment to develop the country or providing appropriate training. Since a certain level of TVE is emerging at secondary and higher secondary education for national development but as elite children do not have any problem in build their careers, so the concepts of TVE seems only for speeches. The above mentioned barriers to the development of TVE produce a serious, detrimental impact on enrolments in TVE as Figure 6 illustrates.
The World Bank report of 2002 notes the present population of Bangladesh is more than 140 million, with density of 1050 persons per square kilometer. Over‐population can be a barrier to economic growth for a nation, but if the people are trained and are more productive, they may not a burden on society, but instead a source of skilled person power. They can perform their task efficiently with best professionalism, and they can also contribute for national development by participating global labor market.
Before discussing this issue in respect of Bangladesh, I first make comparison of employed skilled person power employment pattern found in the study of job market for TVE graduates with South Korea and Germany/Japan. Table 3 explores the employment pattern, but before discussing the analysis of the data in Table 3, it is worthwhile to note that position of skilled worker of Bangladesh is an official agenda but the position is occupied by unskilled worker who do not have either TVE or general education (Rafique, 1996; ILO, 1993). As a point of concern, it should be noted that this comparison does not take into consideration the quality and level of skill possessed by the skilled person power of the countries included.
spectrums as can be seen in Figure 7.
The USA Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) opines that agriculture can build national economic development, slowly but strongly, with a solid foundation (FAO, 1997; see http://www.fao.org/es/ESA/sofa.htm). The FAO (1997) emphasizes that agricultural revolution of a recently independent country not only helps it to be sound in managing own food, but also helps to build infrastructure for industrial revolution by exporting and by producing raw material for industrial uses. But Nikiko (2001) says agriculture means both cultivation of crops and producing necessary goods for industrial raw materials, as well as the livestock. The FAO (1997) argues that agricultural research and the invention of modern agricultural machineries is worthy unless farmers are skilled enough to process and handle them accordingly. However, Nikiko (2001) considers that to prepare productive farmers, well‐timed training and education need to be provided if they are to accomplish such the professional objectives. According to the Bangladesh Government’s Fifth Five Year Plan (1997‐2002) (see, Government of Bangladesh, 1997, p. 57): “Agriculture plays a vital role in the growth and stability of the country’s economy as is indicated by its share in GDP, employment and export earnings.” But Rafique (1996) argues that agriculture contributes only 30% of the GNP, which is very low in comparison with its work force because 70% of working people are involved in this sector. Figure 8 illustrates the proportion of different goods Bangladesh exported during 1997‐1998. From this figure it can be seen that the contribution of agriculture is not that high compared with other sectors, especially the garment sector. Therefore there is almost unlimited scope to expand this sector, especially in the post‐harvest stage, and in the processing and preservation of food products and other agricultural products.
− Although there are fertile lands, a large number of unskilled working people cannot produce necessary food for the vast population;
− as many farmers believe in superstition, they do not cultivate necessary raw materials (cotton, jute, rubber, etc.) for industrial use; and
− farmers do not cultivate livestock properly (fisheries, poultry, etc.) due to a lack of knowledge.
According to the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) (2001), in the year 1999‐2000, the country exported readymade garments worth US$3,592 million. A study in 1993 by International Labor Organization (ILO) on the Bangladesh garment industry reported an unusually rejection rate by the buyer’s quality control authority. The BGEMA also observed that if this sector could develop better quality assurance, the total export value could be more than US$ 4,500. In 2001, the garment industry employed more than 2 million people: 71% of them women and who had no formal training on garment manufacture (BGMEA, 2001). It is also worthwhile to note that the garments industry used approximately 3 billion yards of clothing material, 97% of which was imported. Thus some 75% of the total value of manufactured garments was spent importing and manufacturing (BGMEA, 2001). Smith, Baston, Bocock and Scoot (2002) observe that Bangladesh urgently needs to train employees in the garment industry to improve their skills, and improve the quality of their work and build the infrastructure of the sector. Smith et al. (2002) suggest that to remove the lot of the garment sector, the workers need proper training so that Bangladesh can supply the orders on time. Smith et al. summarize the situation, saying that by employing skilled manpower Bangladesh can meet the challenges of an international garment manufacturing business, and that if it fails to do so, then it will lose the business and high unemployment is likely especially for women. To face the challenge of local and global competition export‐oriented industry the country must make significant investment in the garment sector in terms of education and training to provide the necessary skilled manpower.
There is also a real shortage of skilled person power in the Bangladesh leather industry. Only one college offers graduate course, and then for few enrollees (BANBEIS, 2007). In 1997‐98, Bangladesh earned more than US$240 million exporting leather and leather products (Bangladesh Bank, 2004, see http://www.bangladesh‐bank.org/pub/monthly/econtrds/econtrds.html). But out of the 210 million square feet of leather used, some 85% was semi‐furnished. If 100% leather could be exported in furnished form, the earnings would more than double, and if finished leather products could be exported, the earnings would 10 times the present. Again the restricting factor is unskilled labor.
Export of Skilled People Power
The data which have been used here were collected in 1993 and present a Middle East perspective there are no more up‐to‐date data available. During the 17 year period from 1976 to 1992, person power export increased by a factor of 31. Figure 9 shows the percentage distribution of exported person power (manpower) by level of skill (professional, skilled, semi‐skilled and un‐skilled). The same Figure also shows the level of remittance, Bangladesh received from the exported persons. The total person power exported from Bangladesh in 1993 was 244,508; of which 46.6% was unskilled, 14%, semi‐skilled, 34.0% skilled, and 5.6% professional (Rafique, 1996). The UNDP human development report shows that Bangladesh received official remittances from exported person power of US$0.8 billion in 1989, some was 4% of GNP, 59% of exports, 22% of imports and 43% of Overseas Development Administration (ODA). The country earned US$ 1.01 billion from export person power in 1993, and US$1.20 billion in 1995. The rise of person power export from 1988 to 1992 during the five years was thus 376% but the increase in remittances was 141% (BTEB, 1994). According to a BTEB study, the key reason for not increasing the remittances in proportion to the raising in export of person power is due to the export of a large proportion of unskilled person power in place of skilled people. The BBC also says that if the country can prepare different level of computer professional by providing them with appropriate training, it will gain the foreign currency as presently happens in India.
Within the scope of this paper, it is not possible to present a full picture of TVE for Bangladesh. But it was possible to make an argument of the proposed topic. The following discussion represents some concluding remarks on the topic.
− To progress well in the face of increasing global competition, it is essential to provide modern up‐to‐date technological knowledge to students;
− On the other hand, it is notable that not all students have the academic ability or interest to gain technological knowledge; and
− In addition to the above issues, other professions such as agriculture, the garment industry and so on, can pay a vital role in country’s developmental progress. After all, a balanced, skilled workforce can play a separate more holistic role in national development.
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Author: Programme Officer, ILO office in Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Email: [email protected]