Securing certificates of graduation even with good grades does no longer guarantee suitable jobs in our country. One's entry into a corporate office or public service doesn't either assure the employer or the republic that s/he would be a competent and dedicated hand, let alone showing excellence in performance.
If this tells a partial story, overseas job records may say a bit more. There are hardly any technical professionals or highly-paid executives among over 10 million expatriate workforce employed in traditional destinations. Still, Bangladeshi students capture competitive, sophisticated jobs in the West, East Asia and Australia, if and when they study there. Thus, we can't deny the poor global ranking of our educational institutions.
The sector leaders may, however, argue that the purpose of education is not limited to getting a lucrative job. True, but what does the current system produce, other than a pool of unemployed graduates? Unsurprisingly, educationists, excepting a few, don't publish academic articles, nor do they write reflective pieces-- as though research and innovation should be done elsewhere.
Traits such as skills, service mentality and moral values, as instilled by teachers, families and larger society into young learners, have been exposed in the series of scams we saw during and before the pandemic. Corruption, inefficiency, red-tape, bribery, money laundering, tax evasion, and embezzlement of public resources - complaints that often embarrass the policymakers - are, in a broad sense, results of the absence of proper education.
Those who may be called 'educated proper' have been so suppressed by half-educated and greedy elements that persons with questionable integrity dispense on norms and values in society! The social media platforms have turned into another mirror of taste, culture and, of course, intellect that are shaped by education, whatsoever.
When the industrialised countries are debating on reducing stress of examinations on teenagers, scholars like Noam Chomsky are speaking against the burden of debts on students since they, in that case, 'are unlikely to think about changing the society'. In our case, the youth are tempted to pursue jobs, money, power, and glamour, without any urge for acquiring knowledge, ethics and magnanimity that enlightened people are expected to demonstrate in their lives.
The education system now in place fails to offer required job skills, build morally correct men and women or help flourish merit and genius of the youth who account for almost 60 per cent of the country's 160 million population. Consequently, the country faces the risk of witnessing a lost generation/s despite all prospects of the much talked about demographic dividend.
We've somehow lost the attitude of what our forefathers called Haushe Biddya (Enthusiasm for learning) at a time when we need competitive attitude towards creating global-level knowledge and manpower. Demography has put us in such a position that our education should be readied for both local and global solutions and that our people have to vie for opportunities available globally.
The way Bangladesh's older generations viewed the world is not so relevant to today's youths and juveniles-- a harsh reality that misses eyes of those who matter more until today. The new generation/s may rather have to unlearn some of their lessons devoid of emphasis on due diligence and conscientious intellectual exercise that only constrain individual's thinking, if they want to bring about meaningful changes. Some experts emphasise an end to rote-learning, and working for a pedagogic revolution, instead.
The bitter pills required for the purpose include freeing the sector from all forms of corrupt practices. Overhauling the curricula is another issue.
It's not possible to produce globally competitive human resources without establishing world-class universities and centres of excellence. To do so, the demand should come from society. The efforts put in by hundreds of thousands of families to give their children quality education prove the demand for better education.
If the Bangladeshi youths, being educated abroad, can assume leadership in globally reputed organisations, we've to find out what goes wrong at home. The world may look at our manpower as part of supply chains, but it's up to us to decide if and how our youths should be prepared for taking over leadership roles anywhere on earth.