Mohammad Ashraf Hossain
Bangladesh is progressing economically but lagging behind technologically. From an agrarian country, predominantly with primitive production system, it has started transforming since the 80's. Yet a high technology-based production system could not develop here. A low tech-based irrigation system with use of imported agricultural inputs has contributed to higher agro production. Manual labour-based readymade garments have also clicked.
Only in the last decade a few high-tech industrial production units have been set up in Bangladesh. But they are suffering for want of appropriate technical hands, though millions of youths here are un-employed or under-employed. Tthousands of foreign technicians have been working in industrial units. Even in fishery units in Bangladesh foreign professionals are working. Bangladesh has started to manufacture ocean-going water vessels in recent years. Indeed mostly fabrication of ship-building takes place here. All the equipment required in a ship is imported from abroad. Alongside earning foreign currencies, the ship-building industry has opened up prospects for engaging local manpower and contributing to reduction of un-employment.
Against this background, less significant general education is expanding beyond requirement and much needed technical and professional education is neglected. Japan gave especial emphasis on diploma education in different technical fields after World War II to rebuild the war ravaged economy. It went for high technology gradually and thus it turned out to be the most developed economy in Asia once. Bangladesh is considered to have similar prospect as it has huge youth manpower. What we need is to develop a strong base of technical education for the young population suiting the need of the time.
Economists and policy-makers consider that Bangladesh has a bright prospect for achieving the middle-income status in the next decade. To do this, the country must convert its huge young population into technically educated manpower. The government will have to take a huge programme to set up at least one polytechnic institution in each Upazilla within the next five years.
The upcoming techno-savvy industrial units will get their required manpower within the country. Converting the huge youth population into technical hands is a prerequisite for development of the country's economy. The country does not need so many youths with general education as Bangladesh has been producing since independence. In that way it is waste of time and money. Expansion of general education at undergraduate and graduate levels should be stopped for the next five years. Instead, the government needs to take up a large project to expand technical diploma education at secondary level in each upazila.