The quality of education at the universities needs to be improved for developing the people's skills, which is essential for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), experts said at a seminar.
"The quality of education should be given utmost importance to move the economy forward as a whole. Innovative initiatives need to be encouraged in the overall curriculum," said Professor Mustafizur Rahman, fellow at Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), at the seminar organised by Center on Budget and Policies and the Development Studies Department of Dhaka University on Sunday.
He said the link between the industry and the academy needs to be strengthened so that university graduates can be employed productively.
"Moreover, to ensure inclusive development, we need to look at the existing and emerging challenges. According to the SDG Report 2021, Bangladesh faces significant challenges at different levels in 15 out of 17 SDGs. It recommended including these targets in the national planning strategies for tackling the challenges," the CPD fellow continued.
Citing a report by the Economic Relations Department, Mustafizur Rahman said the country will require around $928 billion by 2030 to achieve the SDGs. Of this, 5% ($48 billion) is projected to come from the foreign sources. The rest has to be arranged from internal sources which is a major challenge.
This particular challenge needs to be addressed by changing the tax-structure and tax-collection, he said.
Mustafizur Rahman further said, "The labour market has to be improved urgently by creating productive employment opportunities to shrink the national income inequality and to reduce poverty."
He also said more than 85% of the country's labour force is engaged in the informal sector.
The private sector needs to be encouraged to create employment for the marginalised people, especially for those with physical disabilities, he said.
Besides, emphasis must be placed on quality enhancement in every sector as well as investment in important sectors like health and social security, he continued.
Efforts must also be made to address the challenges of gender inequality and gender-based violence as well as to create safe and decent employment opportunities for women, he suggested.
Professor Mustafizur Rahman also cautioned the people concerned that after graduating from least developed country (LDC), Bangladesh will lose many facilities that it currently enjoys. Many cannot develop further from that state if they cannot provide good governance and leadership for their people. This puts these countries in a trap, and Bangladesh needs to develop the people's skills and productivity to avoid it.
"After graduation many countries fall into such a trap. So Bangladesh has to make a holistic and inclusive move in education to avoid the trap," Professor Mustafizur Rahman added.
Addressing the seminar as the chief guest, State Minister for Planning Dr Shamsul Alam said the universities have to take the responsibility to increase the education quality as they have their own curriculum and the government is ready to help them.
"For development, research is crucial. So, we will increase the research budget."
He also said challenges of SDG targets are outlined in several National Plans like the Eighth Five-year Plan, Plan 2041 and Delta Plan 2100.
"There are 244 indicators that mark the progress towards achieving the SDGs. We have made good progress in many of them. A division of responsibilities among the ministries and departments has been mapped out. Besides, the SDG Tracker has been introduced, through which the movement toward achieving the target can be seen," he said.
"The Eighth Five-Year Plan emphasises regional development. The government is already implementing some area-based projects. This strategy is called 'SDG localization.'" He added.