Monday, 2 October, 2023
E-paper

Smart Education Is Key to ‘Smart Bangladesh’

Liton Chandro Sarkar

Bangladesh is an emerging economy. It has made tremendous progresses in economic growth over the last 50 years. However, its full potential remains unexploited since many young people are still not able to contribute to the economy due to a lack of suitable skills and knowledge. This is depriving them to earn more for them and give more to their nation. Digital Bangladesh has already been built and time has come to build Smart Bangladesh. It will be achieved by establishing Smart Citizen, Smart Economy, Smart Society, and Smart Government by 2041. Smart Bangladesh is an initiative taken up by the government to transform the country into a technically advanced and sustainable society. Smart Bangladesh could be possible when cherished progress will be achieved in all relevant fields including education. Skill-based quality education is the key to build 'Smart Bangladesh'.

Smart education system is designed to strengthen the capabilities of 21stcentury’s learners by offering an intelligent and customized learning solution. The smart education is already implemented in some of the developed countries. The smart education in Bangladesh is in no way less than advance nations. It’s already in use in most of the higher educational institutes. Students use electronic gadgets in classrooms and outside campus for learning. Learning Management Systems (LMS) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) are well in use. Majority of board related administrative task are online. ERP is widely used for general administrations related to attendance, transport management, hospitality, stock and asset management whereas LMS helps planning day to day classroom activities, curriculum planning, assignment and projects. Today students work on collaborative projects online and submit common report. At present, Bangladesh provides 16% of the global online workforce, making Bangladesh the second largest source of the digital workforce. The future of our digital sector as a vibrant ecosystem of start-ups, tech giants, and digitally empowered citizens all working in harmony towards a prosperous Bangladesh.

For building a smart nation, a strong foundation in digital literacy is essential. Good education and appropriate skills are basic requirements not only for reaping better opportunities for the youth, but also for building a prosperous economy. The new generation has to be groomed with education and technology for smart Bangladesh. Thus, building skilled manpower is the most important aspect of a smart Bangladesh that it is needed to spread the use of digital devices, information technology more widely. At present, the cutting-edge technologies represented by 5G, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and blockchain have been widely applied in the field of education, presenting the education system gradually with the intelligent characteristics of openness, sharing, interaction, collaboration and ubiquity, and greatly improving the quality of education. So, to make Bangladesh smart we have to make our education system technologically smart. It will increase students' involvement in the learning process, and as a result, they will love to learn. It can be given through blended learning which assimilates both face to face and online learning. Blended learning should be delivered through a flipped classroom where a video clip of what a teacher wishes to teach is given to students before they come to class. That is, before teaching the class, the students have to watch everything in the video or others online tools. Thus, students can watch the lecture of a given topic before attending class. Then in the classroom, they get a chance for problem-solving, collaboration and engagement. And then at home, they reflect on how far they have learned.

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), the youth unemployment rate currently stands at 10.6%, more than twice the overall national unemployment rate of 4.2%. Youth with higher education remain unemployed because there are limited job opportunities in the country. Apart from this, employers are looking for a qualified workforce, but many youth who are looking for a job do not fulfil their demand for skills and capacity. The focus of our existing education system is mostly on theoretical knowledge, rather than outcome based or practical skills. Numerous industries are undergoing accelerated change as a result of technological advances. Why are people not getting jobs? It is because they do not have enough skills to meet the demands of the market.

Bangladesh's greatest strength is its large young population. The size of the country's working age population is bigger than that of dependents. Many East Asian countries, such as China, Japan and Singapore, do not have such a demographic dividend, which has become a concern for them. Of course, in the latter half of the 20thcentury, the East Asian countries advanced rapidly due to their demographic dividends. However, the high number of working-age people in Bangladesh will not stay so for long. Our demographic dividend will decline by 2040.

Bangladesh stands at the crossroads of an exciting and transformative era, and a key aspect of this journey lies in empowering our youth with the skills and knowledge they need to thrive in an increasingly interconnected and dynamic global landscape. Therefore, we need to invest in our young population - on quality education and skills to reap the benefits. To achieve a smart Bangladesh, the government, our educational institutions, and society at large need to collaborate and prioritize the development of our youth. The government has raised the allocation for the education sector in the national budget. International standards dictate that the education sector ideally gets an allocation of 6 percent of the GDP or 20 percent of the budget. Public expenditure on education should be at least doubled from the current two percent of our GDP to build smart Bangladesh. Investments in education, vocational training, and skill development programs are vital. Furthermore, mentorship and guidance from experienced professionals can provide invaluable insights and direction to the youth as they embark on their journeys.

Lastly, we can say that Smart education can be an advancement in digital technology of present time. We must put more emphasis on building enlightened citizens who can live harmoniously in society, strive to excel and show proper respect to others. By focusing on smart education, Bangladesh is nurturing a knowledgeable and empowered youth, which paves the way for a brighter and more prosperous future. The collective efforts of the government, education authorities, and communities will contribute to the realization of the Smart Bangladesh 2041 vision. All need to work together to bring changes to the education system in new era.

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The writer is Deputy Inspector of

Colleges, Bangladesh University of Professional.

E-mail: [email protected]