Public Lecture: Beyond Education for All – Meeting the Human Resource Needs of Economic Development

The IGC Bangladesh Research Programme jointly with the Institute of Governance Studies (IGS) organised on the 25th of February 2014 the first Public Lecture of the IGC and IGS Public Lecture Series titled at the BRAC Inn conference Hall. The Public Lecture was chaired by Dr. Hafeez Rahman, IGC Bangladesh Country Programme. Professor Ainun Nishat, Vice-Chancellor, BRAC University, was also present as the guest of honour.

Professor Wahiduddin Mahmud (Member for the Development Commission, UN and former advisor of the Caretaker Government of Bangladesh) was invited to present his paper titled “Beyond Education for All: Meeting the Basic Human Capital for Economic Development.”

Professor Wahiduddin Mahmud discussed the importance of enhancing quality of secondary and tertiary level education along with the objective set by the Millennium Development Goals of reaching universal primary education. Bangladesh’s economic growth so far has been driven by low-skilled labour and hence Professor Mahmud stressed the need to enhance skills training and development in the education system, to grow labour force that will drive higher economic growth in the future.

Addressing the serious concerns of the quality of secondary and tertiary education in Bangladesh, Professor Mahmud suggested that “the whole education system needs to be geared towards developing a well-balanced human resources pool, with appropriate skills and flexibility for adjustment, to keep pace with increasingly competitive and globalized markets with rapidly changing technologies.”

Productive discussions followed, in which the former Finance Minister M. Sayeduzzaman, conveyed that the UN Millennium Development Goals emphasize the universal provision of education, but do place enough weight on the quality of teaching and governance in the process of educational reform. He also suggested that the national budget spent on education should be higher than expenditure on defence, as this is a key priority area for growth. Professor Ainun Nishat, Vice-Chancellor of BRAC University, stressed that education programmes should be holistic in nature and their quality has to be improved in Bangladesh. The Vice-Chancellor also hilighted the extreme commercialization of local private universities and the current lack of governance and regulation of the programmes that these universities provide to the public. During his concluding comments, Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman added that the reason behind today’s polarized education system is the outcome of politicization of education in Bangladesh.

Academics, researchers, experts, politicians, and representatives from think-tanks and donor organisations, civil society members, and students also attended the event.

For press coverage of the event please read the following articles:

http://www.thedailystar.net/education-for-all-may-not-meet-target-12720

http://www.thefinancialexpress-bd.com/2014/02/24/20321

http://www.dhakatribune.com/education/2014/feb/24/education-lacks-governance

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