Building skills for future
- Review of the whole curriculum in 2021
- New books in 2022
- Two trades in classes IX-X from 2021
- Introduction of modular education
- Teachers training in 2021
- Lessening burden on exams for students
- Incorporating language and communication learning in curriculum
- Initiative to bridge between industry and academia
- Running in-person and online classes side by side
Education curriculum in the country will go through massive changes and a modular education system will be introduced to help learners catch up with the future skill needs.
Examination pressure will be reduced and teachers will be adequately trained to run both in-person and online education side by side to offset the losses induced by Covid-19 pandemic that has kept pupils indoors since March this year.
These are among a raft of measures the education ministry has planned to implement in the next two years to develop a skilled generation and bridge the gap between education and employment.
"Subject orientation, delivery and distribution pattern will also be changed. Content will be made following the framework of the new curriculum and then new books will be published for the 2022 session. Teachers will be trained throughout the year of 2021," Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni said yesterday at a webinar organised by The Business Standard.
"We will introduce a modular education so that students can learn and get certificates smoothly for the promotion and adaptation in a new job. Education will be through online," she said.
Modular education refers to the division of conventional courses into smaller components or modules, and is being practiced worldwide to tailor education to job requirements. It also keeps lifelong learning open to gain skills when needed.
Each module enables students to obtain a partial certificate that can be combined into a qualification.
"Many people have good knowledge but have no certificate. We will make a process to evaluate them and will provide them with certificates that will help them get their expected jobs both at home and abroad," the education minister said, explaining the innovative teaching method.
"We will reduce exam pressure on students and will try to bring them under the process of learning to learn. Actually, there is no alternative to lifelong education," she added.
The webinar styled "Future-skills for a future-fit workforce" was powered by the Standard Chartered Bank.
Education enthusiasts and promoters joined the webinar, calling for developing improved digital contents and making digital devices available to students in remote areas.
Inam Ahmed, editor of The Business Standard, moderated the programme while Bitopi Das Chowdhury, head of Corporate Affairs, Brand and Marketing, Standard Chartered Bangladesh acted as co-moderator.
The minister said her ministry is working to review the whole curriculum to make it fit for building skilled manpower for future Bangladesh.
"We have already introduced a trade for the students of Class IX and X to build a skilled generation. The students have to study at least two trades from the next year. Of them, one is mandatory and another one is optional," she added.
She sees online education as a blessing at a time when Covid-19 has caused colossal damages to education. "We will definitely continue both in-person and online education even after the pandemic."
The education minister acknowledged that online education lacked quality in the first stage. "Our teachers were not accustomed with online education. Later, we got help from Startup Bangladesh and now the quality of classes is good," she added.
Future curriculum will attach importance to communicative knowledge which is crucial in job markets both at home and abroad.
"Graduates now lack communication skills…. Language skill is also another important part of the curriculum. We will change the curriculum so that students can be skilled in language for their better communication and getting good jobs."
"We are already working to build skilled manpower. Our universities are currently producing unskilled manpower. As a result, graduates do not get their expected jobs," she said, sharing her thoughts on how to bridge between industry and universities to produce skilled graduates meeting present-day needs of the industry.
Dr Dipu Moni also touched upon the initiatives taken to recover education losses due to the pandemic-induced closure of schools, as more than 12% students are totally out of schooling now.
Extra care after the reopening of schools and assessment based on a short 30-day syllabus, forming small group classes in remote areas are some other steps to help pupils make up for the lost classes.
She also urged banks to invest a portion of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) fund in research to build necessary skilled manpower in the country.
Tahsinah Ahmed, executive director of Ucep Bangladesh, said 56 families have no television and only 6% have internet connections. This is a big impediment to online education.
"Mobile network operating companies can donate digital devices to students. Even the government can provide a digital device to students like new textbooks.
"Mobile network operators can also provide cost-effective data packages," she said.
She also put emphasis on establishing digital labs at all schools across the country.
"The government should engage the NGOs at every development project to make these projects successful," she said.
"Teachers should be trained to make digital content. And digital education must be included in the future curriculum. Raising awareness among guardians is also equally important," she added.
She also stressed the need for psychological counseling of students.
"We have tried to provide information house to house to make the people, especially the poor, aware of the pandemic," she said.
Rajiv Prasad Shaha, chairman and managing director of Kumudini Welfare Trust of Bengal (BD) Ltd, said the government should work to produce health assistants to meet the future demand in the health sector. At the same time, health assistants can be exported abroad.
Kishor Kumar Das, founder of Bidyanondo Foundation, said most students are not in proper education. Street children are totally out of study. Therefore, the government must take effective initiatives to ensure education for all with a view to building a skilled generation, he added.
Tasmiah Tabassum Rahman, head of Strategy and Business Development, Skills Development of Brac, said it is important to set up creative clubs at schools and colleges. Students should be provided lifelong learning to cope with any kind of adverse situation.
"We will set up 10 career houses to train at least one lakh people. We will provide training on how to become entrepreneurs and get good jobs. We will also provide loans and seed money. We are trying to collect Tk100 crore to this end," she said.
Naser Ezaz Bijoy, chief executive officer of Standard Chartered Bangladesh, said the government must take a long-term plan to build the future generation. School goers should be more creative to cope with the post-Covid period.
"Graduates must come out of the mindset to get a job in the conventional way. They must be entrepreneurs. We are working in this regard," he said.
"The government has a plan to make the country a middle-income one by 2021, achieve SDG targets by 2030, make the country a developed one by 2041 and execute Delta Plan by 2100. However, it must re-strategise the plan due to Covid-19, which is an unprecedented and synchronised global shock," he said.
Inam Ahmed said a huge number of students are becoming graduates but there are questions about the quality.
The skills which the graduates have achieved may become obsolete in future due to the impact of Covid-19, he said, adding one million people will lose their jobs by 2030 due to the presence of artificial intelligence for robotics.
"What initiatives should we take to face the future challenges?" he asked and stressed that our education policy needs to address the pressing issues like new skills as Bangladesh is aspiring to become a middle-income country.