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Harnessing the power of technical education

  • Published at 12:00 am September 10th, 2019
The global skills mismatch
Photo: Bigstock

Why it can be the next big employment generator if proper steps are taken

The present government is known as being more education-friendly than any other government in the past.

Realizing the importance of technical education, the government disbanded the Ministry of Education in 2016 and separated it into technical and madrasa education.

It is the responsibility of the technical education department to determine, develop, and coordinate technical education as a whole.

Technical schools and colleges provide education from ninth to twelfth grade, but the main institution of technical education is 49 government polytechnic institutes -- where over 100,000 students are studying for a diploma in engineering. In addition, there are also 1,161 private polytechnic institutes with more than 100,000 students.

Even in 2009, students in technical education accounted for 3% of the total students.

The increase in the number of seats in polytechnics has come to 17% in 2019.

The government’s goal is to raise it to 20% in 2021 and to 30% in 2030. In order to expand technical education, the government has a new polytechnic institute in 23 new districts. 

Four more engineering colleges have been allowed in ECNEC. Some of them are in land acquisition, some under construction.

These steps in expanding technical education are undoubtedly appreciated.

There is no alternative to technical education to make Bangladesh a better state. Technical education has been the backbone of development in Singapore and Malaysia. Hopefully, Bangladesh will be moving towards following this model as well.

But that would require long-term planning and proper implementation. 

There are some visible problems in the expansion of technical education, such as the acute crisis of teachers in polytechnics. If we want to make technical education more dynamic, we would have to utilize the skills and talents of experienced teachers.

Also, most of the equipment in the labs are completely unused. As a result, practice-based technical education has become class dependent, just like general education.

The process has to be made more accountable for the purchase of quality modern equipment, including the refurbishing of old equipment. 

We need to re-evaluate how much vocational training is benefiting countries such as Singapore, India, and China.

Most teachers need to emphasize subject-based training. 

Due to an increase in the number of seats, steps should be taken to expand the development of polytechnics in order to eliminate the classroom crisis, to build new academic spaces, administrative buildings, quarters, hostels, playgrounds, and other facilities. 

Technical education will not be developed merely by increasing student enrollment.

The standard of the student-teacher ratio should be maintained along the figure of 20:1. Technical education should be monitored throughout effective teaching processes, and modern technology should be introduced in the context of market demand when it comes to technical education.

The curriculum of the Technical Education Board should be reformed and adjusted. Modernization of exam methods and evaluation of results is an urgent need as well. 

If we can solve these problems, Bangladesh could be unemployment-free by emphasizing on technical education, and our economic prosperity can also be maximized further by exporting  skilled manpower abroad. If we continue focusing on vocational training and pay the right amount of attention to the needs and wants of the sector, it stands to truly transform our economy from top to bottom.

Gazi Md Abdur Rashid is a Research Officer in District Education Office of Secondary and Higher Education in Munshiganj.