Speakers at a seminar on Thursday put emphasis on more investment in research for education from pre-primary to tertiary level, aiming to achieve the UN's Sustainable Development Goal 4, and cope with the 4th industrial revolution.
They added that the Bangladesh government must concentrate on and allocate more funds to the education sector to ensure quality education.
They were speaking at a seminar of the Bangladesh Development Forum (BDF) 2020 at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre titled "Quality Education for All: Preparing for 4th Industrial Revolution," organised by the Economic Relations Division of the finance ministry.
Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni presided over the seminar, while Quazi Monirul Islam, joint chief of the education ministry presented the keynote paper.
Dr Dipu Moni said, "The SDG 4 focuses on ensuring inclusive and quality education for all, and promoting lifelong learning by 2030. The Government of Bangladesh has decided to work towards the achievement of this goal."
"With the rise of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the education system of the country needs to step up training, especially of women, to keep pace with the demand for skilled workers, especially in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)," she added.
UNICEF representative Tomoo Hozumi said, "Bangladesh achieved impressive development in the last decade including in the education sector. The country is developing very fast, which is good to meet the 4th industrial revolution. But Bangladesh now needs a highly adaptable workforce, and it is impossible to do this without a quality early childhood development programme."
"Despite a good number of achievements, budgetary allocation in education is still poor in Bangladesh. The latest National Budget allocated only 2.1 percent of total GDP to education, whereas Afghanistan allocated 3.9 percent; Bhutan 7.1 percent; India 3.8 percent; Maldives 4.3 percent; and Pakistan 2.8 percent. So, allocation for education, especially for research, must increase," he added.
EU Representative Dr Hans Lambrecht said, "There is high attendance of students at schools, but average performance is very poor. So the government has to invest more in research for education, and take on huge programmes for developing the quality of teachers."
The executive director of the Campaign for Popular Education and a former adviser to a caretaker government, Rasheda K Chowdhury said, "Bangabandhu in his election manifesto in 1970 said that he would allocate 4 percent of total GDP for education. Now it is only 2.1 percent."
"We actually need more investment. The government has been successful in enrolling students. Now we need quality education," she added.
The secretary of the Technical and Madrasa Education Division, Munshi Shahabudin Ahmed, and the secretary of the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education, Akram-Al-Hossain, were among the panelists at the programme.