Md. Joynal Abdin
The Independent on June 11, 2018
Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) – 4: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning emphasized on quality education and skills development. This goals highlighted on inclusiveness of education i.e. government is to ensure quality education for rich, poor, urban, rural, tribal or other ethnic children. Accommodating all ethnic groups, all races, all classes, and all geographical territories under the umbrella of quality education is inclusiveness here. At the same time this goal also emphasizing on lifelong learning, it could be described in two dimensions. These are recognizing learning of the dropout students from work experience and certifying them under a unique platform, promoting skills elopement in all levels of professional life. These are the short training courses to acquire targeted competencies through on-the-job trainings (OJT) or part-time training sessions. To understand SDG Goal – 4 we have to go through the targets set under this goal.
There are ten (10) targets of this goal. These are by the year 2030 (1) Ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and Goal-4 effective learning outcomes, (2) Ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and preprimary education so that they are ready for primary education, (3) Ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university, (4) Substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship, (5) Eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations, (6) Ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy, (7) Ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development, (8) Build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, nonviolent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all, (9) Substantially expand globally the number of scholarships available to developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing States and African countries, for enrolment in higher education, including vocational training and information and communications technology, technical, engineering and scientific programmes, in developed countries and other developing countries, and (10) Substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries, especially least developed countries and small island developing states.
Prominent terminologies in the above mentioned targets are (1) Girls and boys both has to be equally emphasized, (2) Free equitable and quality primary & secondary education, in Bangladesh, primary and secondary education is tuition free for the girls but secondary level boys have to pay, this goals emphasized on free education for the boys too in both primary and secondary levels, (3) Equal access for women and men in the quality vocational, technical and tertiary education in affordable cost. But in Bangladesh quality education is expensive whereas we have limitations in technical and vocational education ground. Qualified teachers, required laboratory and equipment have scarcity in vocational as well as technical colleges. (4) Skills for employment, decent job and entrepreneurship, focus of most Bangladeshi learners are employment but decent job is very rare in the society. At the same time skills are not focused to entrepreneurship at any level or at any faculty. Every faculty is creating job seekers but not job providers here in Bangladesh. (5) Disabled, indigenous and vulnerable area children have to get special focus. Other terminologies are relevant to curriculum development and priority areas like literacy and numeracy both are equally emphasized, life style, human rights, gender equality, promotion of peace and non-violence shall get priority in the curriculum. ICT education, engineering education technical and scientific education shall be prioritized to ensure pro-development and pro-employment education for sustainable development. Finally target ten has rightly pointed out that supply of qualified teachers is one of the most important tasks to ensure quality education and skills development for sustainability.
Now come to the Bangladesh perspective, 7th five year plan of the government provided enough emphasize on quality education. It emphasized on (1) Improve the Teaching Learning process in schools, (2) Ensure participation and reduce disparity, (3) Ensure Decentralization and enhance effectiveness, (4) Establish Effective Planning and Management, (5) Increasing the rate of enrolment, (6) Capacity increase in reading, writing, listening & speaking, (7) Necessary steps
Reducing the rate of dropout, (8) Encouraging female enrolment, and inclusion of all children in the education system. 7th five year plan is also recognizing the challenges like Infrastructural shortage, Inadequate implementation, Insufficient funding, Inequality and gender disparity, Imbalance among disciplines, Skills mismatch, and finally; Skills deficiency of migrant workers etc.
By focusing on the above mentioned challenges we would like to mentioned that, Bangladesh is earning about USD 13.5 billion by exporting 10 million workers abroad, whereas 2.3 million Pilipino expatriate workers are earning USD 31.2 billion per year. That means Philippine earns double remittance of Bangladesh by sending our one fifth workers abroad. It is because they are sending semi-skilled and skilled workers and professionals like nurses, technicians and others. Bangladesh has to focus on expatriate workers oriented skills development to earn more remittance and ensure their adequate demands and safe work environment in abroad.
On the other hand Bangladesh is paying more than USD 5 billion by employing about 0.5 million foreign nationals mainly in the readymade garment and its backward and forward linkage industries. It is also indicating we are paying much higher rate than our expatriate workers earning rate from abroad. We are not paying more by employing foreign nationals due to absence of required competencies among the local professionals. A recent study identified that, Bangladeshi professionals are weak in Communications, Strategic Thinking, Market Forecasting, Marketing& Promotion, Initiative, Product Development, Innovation & Creativity, Critical Analysis, Sales Planning, and Operations Management etc. competencies. Therefore capacities of local mid-level managers are not up to the mark of a foreign mid-level manager. Therefore government shall emphasize on the above mentioned competencies to incorporate in national curriculum in different levels and produce qualified teachers and trainers to ensure fruitful result out of it.
Finally we can state that, our technical colleges, poly-techniques and vocational institutes, training centers and teachers training institutes are lacking in laboratory facilities, shortage of equipment as well as qualified trainers. Therefore these faculties are unable to ensure quality education and skills development for optimum result out of these. Demand driven, employment oriented and entrepreneurial curriculum has to be developed with supply of adequate qualified trainers. Government alone cannot do this at all, private sector investors shall be attracted to invest in quality education and skills development with relevant facilities to produce world class professionals for local market as well as to export into the demanded world market. Tax holidays for a certain period, soft bank loan can be effective tools to attract entrepreneurs to invest in skills development sector. Similarly tax weaver facilities against training up employees from abroad could be offered for lifelong skills development of the employed workers and professionals. It will help to produce a technically sound and professionally qualified generation in near future. Thus Bangladesh could improve productivity as well as products quality and remittance earnings. Qualified non-resident Bangladeshi professionals could be attracted here to contribute in local quality improvement through offering them a tax free income for a certain period under certain criteria. Thus government could involve private sector in achieving SDG Goal – 4 i.e. ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning by 2030.