Primary education must focus on ICT to make girls, young women succeed in this sector, says State Minister Palak
To increase the skills and capacity of the country’s girls and young women in the sector of information, communication and technology (ICT), it is crucial to incorporate subjects like science, technology, engineering, mathematics, etc., in primary education, according to State Minister for ICT Zunaid Ahmed Palak.
He said that a job-oriented education system is needed to be ensured, one that would provide opportunities and meet the demands of the future.
The state minister was speaking at the virtual round table discussion on “Accelerating Digital Inclusion for Girls and Women” on Thursday.
On the occasion of International Girls in ICT Day 2021, Aspire to Innovate (a2i), Grameenphone, and Plan International Bangladesh jointly organized the virtual event to explore the reality, gaps and scope for girls and young women to be active in the ICT sector for achieving an inclusive Digital Bangladesh.
The state minister, who attended the event as the chief guest, said: “In today’s ICT sector, the need for learning programming and coding is increasing.
“ICT needs to be given focus in primary education to make girls and young women successful in this sector. The government has taken an initiative to incorporate programming and coding as subjects in primary education from the next education year.
“A total of 35,000 modern digital labs will be established across the country, which will encourage and give more access to girls and young women in ICT,” he added.
Palak stressed the need for a collaborative effort in mentoring and monitoring from the government, non-government and private sectors to ensure the digital inclusion of girls and young women.
He said that the government was working to promote the growth of women’s leadership in ICT alongside providing training and financial support to them.
Startup Bangladesh CEO and Managing Director Tina F Jabeen, BASIS President Syed Almas Kabir, BACCO President Wahid Sharif and Brac Senior Director K A M Morshed took part as panelists in the discussion, which was moderated by DU Prof Lafifa Jamal.
Meanwhile, Chief Human Resources Officer of Grameenphone Syed Tanvir Husain and Country Director of Plan International Bangladesh Orla Murphy spoke as special guests at the event, which was also attended by youth representatives Tusabber Muntaha and Assaduzzaman Asad.
BASIS President Syed Almas Kabir said: “In Bangladesh’s ICT sector, now only 12% to 13% are women. The number is much less in entrepreneurship, only 2%-3%. We have seen in many discussions that girls are afraid of math. But this issue is a socially constructed one.
“And this is why we need to change the social stereotypes.”
Expressing similar views, Orla Murphy, Country Director of Plan International Bangladesh, said: “Bangladesh has made good progress in net primary enrolment for both girls and boys that has increased to approximate 98%.
“But once you look deeper, 36% of girls leave school after completing eighth grade, compared to a 5% dropout rate for boys at the same stage.”
“We start seeing inequality at the very early years of age. According to ILO, still an overall 41% (female 65.7%, male 17.9%) of people aged 15-29 are not in education, employment or training.
“So we need to figure out how we can work as a whole on a society level,” she added.
The discussants expressed their will to work together to ensure more participation of girls and young women in ICT and explore their potentials through provision of financial and technical support.
They emphasised ensuring a safe work environment as well as breaking social stereotypes in this regard.
Every year on the fourth Thursday of April, International Girls in ICT Day is observed globally to inspire girls in technology and to promote opportunities for girls and women in this field.