MNA Feature Desk: Unemployment rate is one of the most important indicators of a country’s economy. Though the unemployment rate is comparatively stable during the last decade ranging between 4.2-4.5 per cent, still it is not at all satisfactory. Many will even argue that the actual unemployment rate is much higher as we often meet unemployed young and not so young people. Though Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, during her last two terms in the government, has created thousands of government jobs but that is also not good enough to solve this unemployment problem.
The private sector is not strong enough to accommodate these unemployed youths, and new jobs are not being created at a level which can address our unemployment issues. There must be some reasons behind this scenario including the lack of investment and resource constraint. But our education system might also be a critical factor behind this situation. Unemployment in Bangladesh is high among the educated people. Still, agriculture is the largest source of employment in Bangladesh as it is around 47 per cent. This refers to a decision that there is lower number of jobs for the educated people.
But on several occasions, the employers of Bangladesh have claimed that they have jobs but unable to find any qualified candidate for those posts. With so many educated but unemployed youths, there must be something wrong with that claim. But actually the employers are right to a great extent as our educated youths mostly do not possess the qualities that the employers are seeking and that is not the fault of the employment seekers rather it is the fault of our education system.
For a long time, the developed countries of the world have adopted an education system which incorporates the choice of the students over the subjects of study as well as realistic and interactive education. As example, we can look into the practice in Germany. At the beginning of their school life, a child gets exposed to all the subjects and when he is in fourth or fifth grade, he is separated with subjects of his choice. It is actually the interest of a student not the choice of parents or teachers. This system might look an insignificant one but it actually shapes the future of these students as their career and life takes a strong route.
Moreover, the education system in Bangladesh is classroom centric. If someone needs extra care, then that is provided after school hours at schools for free. The classrooms are interactive which enables the students to learn not memorize. On top of that, during advanced education, the colleges and universities put highest emphasis on realistic learning. That enables them to get trained during their academic life which makes them lucrative asset for the employers when they enter job field. But our education system is not at all like that and we actually offer toddlers without any experience to the employers.
Our education system is unfortunately based on the concept of memorizing. This destroys students’ creativity and ability to work in the future. The curriculum, mode of teaching and evaluation are set in such a manner that it cannot flourish the creativity of a student. Our students are not allowed to think beyond the box and slowly they lose that capability. Every one of us wants our academic life to get over quickly as we do not possess actual interest in learning. Of course there are some exceptions but that is insignificant.
We all are grateful to our teachers for most of the knowledge we gather. But our teachers need to be compatible to give us a better education as well as a better future. Unfortunately most of our teachers are not affluent with modern styles of teaching. Moreover, as the curriculum was changed, many of them are battling to adapt to that till today and regretfully most of them lost that battle. Though the change in curriculum was intended to bring out the creativity among the students but the idea has seriously failed.
Additionally it has made the lives of the teachers a lot harder as they were not trained to cope with the new curriculum. Adding to that, teachers’ bias to their coaching business is also hurting the students’ interest of learning as that has created ill competition among the teachers which is creating brutality towards the mental growth of the students. Intentional wrong evaluation of students is also a form of corruption which is destroying the lives of our future generations and is very usual in today’s Bangladesh.
During receiving higher education, our students are totally dependent on books and exams. They are evaluated on their ability to gag what they memorized on their exam papers. They are learning a lot of theories in this process but they do not have any realistic experience of what they are learning. They really do not know how the learning will be applied in the real life as a lot of complex scenarios cannot be solved by the book. It is like an automobile engineer checking on every parts of his car when it broke down but failing to notice the fuel tank is empty.
Without realistic education it is not possible to act effectively in real life. Even Kolkata, not citing other modern cities of India, has over 85 polytechnic institutions focusing on practical education. It is the reality of our education that, we have failed to create an effective and interesting learning experience for the learners which could have given them the chance to utilize their potentials.
Notably, our students are performing very well when they are pursuing higher education abroad. Even average students of Bangladesh are performing remarkably. As many of them said, the pressure of education is very high at foreign universities but the system is so interactive and realistic that they love learning in classes. That is why, their results are good and they are in high demand even in our local job market as they immediately start adding value to the company they join. In few English medium schools and private universities, interactive education system is practiced to some extent and usually they produce very confident and efficient employees whom the employers adore.
Once someone said that, our employment seekers always brag about having no job in the market, but there are very few properly written CVs placed at a job site. This is because the students are never taught how to prepare an apt CV according to the new trends of the modern world. Most of our students do not know how to write a proper CV when they enter the job market and it is pathetic. Hence, we often see those with poor academic background gets selected for the job while the ones with better results wait in the lines and blames nepotism for their failures.
We have to understand that no company looks for employees with strong academic backgrounds. The companies look for employees who can add value, who can adapt fast and who can take more effective decisions. We must agree that the best place for the bookish people are the government jobs which requires passing tests after memorizing thousands of pages of answers and we can see how efficiently our government offices are performing! Whenever a private office becomes a bit slack and slow, we say it is becoming like a government office. But with strong developments going on in Bangladesh, we need to build a spontaneous future generation to win over the challenges of the constantly changing world.
We cannot deny the fact that our education system especially way of teaching is changing in Bangladesh but that change is very slow. We are now using tabs or laptops for education, introducing new modes of learning using online platforms and providing multimedia access to the students in remote areas. But the evaluation remains the same–boring exams with pens and paper only. In this way, we are still not enabling the students to have realistic education.
The world is changing fast with open markets and higher competition and we really need to buckle up which is not possible if we continue with the current system. Employment opportunities today exist not only inside the borders but also beyond the borders alongside so many entrepreneurial opportunities. Hence, constantly having an unemployed workforce is not a good thing to have in this context but we need to become competitive to eliminate that curse.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has proved her commitment to developing Bangladesh throughout the last decade and that is going to continue with her consecutive third term. But to sustain this development we need to build an effective future generations or workforce to take the country forward and that requires nurturing the abilities of the youths. Realistic education and, in a broader sense, a total reform of the education system of our country is the demand of time. Hence, we hope the government will put a strong focus over this issue taking the practices of the developed countries into consideration. We hope some changes occur soon so that we are not lag behind.
The writer is Associate Editor at Mohammadi News Agency (MNA) and Kishore Bangla