The Bangladeshi government has decided to adopt a competency-based education system to meet the country’s growing demand of skilled manpower in the private sectors and address the enlarging unemployment problem.
Bangladesh has to hire an increasing number of foreign skilled manpower as the existing education curriculum failed to produce the required manpower in decades.
A World Bank report said the “shortage of domestic skills has increased reliance on imported labor in apparels, real estate, textiles, telecommunication, information and technology sectors.”
It attributed the situation to the mismatch between the demand and domestic supply of skills.
Only 19% of college graduates are found to be employed full-time or part-time, while nearly half are unemployed, the World Bank added, saying policymakers should focus on enhancing the quality and relevance of education by modernizing curriculum and facilities.
Bangladesh has recently unveiled a revised National Curriculum Framework with a major focus on the evaluation and curriculum in schools. Massive changes, including no public exams before Grade 10, and no final examination up to Grade 3, will cover primary, secondary, and high schools and will be enacted in 2025.
Bangladeshi Deputy Education Minister Mohibul Hasan Chowdhury shared the government reformation plan with Anadolu Agency. The plan includes producing skilled manpower, focusing on specialized universities and importance of moral values in schooling.
Move for competency-based curriculum
The official said the existing education system in Bangladesh mostly fails to assess the skills and efficiency of students.
“At the secondary level, we want to provide a minimum standard education in science, humanities, and business studies so that students can grow in line with a professional-based education,” he continued.
“One of the main focuses is to change the evaluation process.”
However, there is a challenge as the country has an inadequate number of skilled curriculum and textbook specialists, Chowdhury added, saying: “We are working on a competency- and knowledge-based curriculum, and working to train our teachers and produce standard textbooks to meet our goal.”
In response to a question on which global standards Bangladesh wants to take as an example, he replied that the country is “set to introduce a curriculum based on ‘learning from all, doing what is right’ for students."
Focused on establishing specialized universities
Instead of improving skills in technical education, we have produced thousands of graduates in the general education curriculum unnecessarily which creates the unemployment problem, he observed.
The World Bank in its latest Global Knowledge Index said one in three graduates remain unemployed in Bangladesh due to the poor education system while it ranked 112th out of 138 countries.
Bangladesh allocates around 12-13% of its national budget for education, while the UN suggests that the rate should be at least 20%.
“Bangladesh's higher education is highly subsidized, so the lion's share of the education budget goes to maintenance,” Chowdhury explained.
“We have focused on establishing specialized universities like agricultural and science and technology. And, our higher education is helping us meet our demand, including in required food demand, solving problems in technology, and running administration,” he said.
“I believe the education budget is adequate and rational but the challenge remains in its proper implementation,” the official added, noting that “a trend and environment for skills-based education have been created.”
Emphasis on moral values in education
The deputy minister highlighted that there are some moral values in the education curriculum that are linked to religion.
However, "Islamist groups" allege that Bangladesh's education has become more secular as it cuts down religious elements, while the secular front has alleged that the government is moving towards "Islamization."
“There is no scope to see an education system to be fully secular in political observation. And students are to learn many subjects, including religion,” Chowdhury added, giving an example of running Catholic schools in western countries.
In Bangladesh, the government-supported Madrasah or Islamic schools provide general education. They, however, provide three extra subjects related to Islamic schooling like the Quran, Hadith, and Fiqh, he mentioned.
But Qawmi Madrasah, an independent Islamic school, remains a challenge for the government as it does not provide general education and is not integrated into the mainstream education system, the deputy minister explained.