Four new marine academies – Barisal, Sylhet, Rangpur, and Pabna – are expected to start their academic activities from first January in 2021 on their respective campuses in a bid to create a skilled workforce in the marine sector.
"Work on all infrastructure facilities of the marine academies is almost complete and now the authority is purchasing furniture and other equipment. The academies are likely to start their journeys at the beginning of 2021," Rafique Ahamed Siddik, the director of the Establishment of Four Marine Academies in Barisal, Sylhet, Rangpur, Pabna project.
However, the first batch students of these academies – 50 students in each academy – for the 2020-21 sessions already started their studies in February this year at the Bangladesh marine academy in Chattogram.
In the new marine academies, two hundred more students will become skilled hands in the sector every year.
The construction work on four marine academies – one each in Rangpur, Barishal, Sylhet, and Pabna – started in 2014 under a project at a cost of Tk400 crore, said Rafique Ahamed Siddik, also the joint secretary of the shipping ministry.
As students graduating from marine academies are in high demand across the world, the government approved the construction of more marine academies in 2012.
Of those, the Barishal marine academy is situated on the bank of Kirtonkhola River in the city.
"It has opened a new door of education for the students of the country's southern region," said Professor Maksudur Rahman, the former principal of Rajbari Government Mahila College, now living in Barishal city.
"We will get a chance to earn a Bachelor of Science in Marine Engineering degree here. Earlier, we had to go to Chattogram to study this – which was expensive and tiresome," said Masum Billah, an HSC examinee of Syed Hatem Ali College, in Barishal who dreams to be a marine engineer.
Each academy will accommodate two hundred students in four different sessions, said the project director.
The new academies are now under Bangladesh Marine Academy in Chattogram and all students admitted to those academies remain under its care, he added.
"I took the responsibility as director of the project in early 2017 and reformed the design for building the academy as per international standards," said the director.
"We are going to sign an agreement with the marine academy of China to facilitate students of Barishal marine academy studying there. They will also get job opportunities on Chinese ships if they qualify."
There is good demand for marine engineers in China, he said.