Prof Dr Alauddin Ahmed, Adviser (Educational, Social Development and Political Affiars) to Hon’ble Prime Minister of Bangladesh,in a tête-àtête with Dr. Rajeshree Dutta Kumar, Pravin Prashant and Jaydeep Saha, speaks on ICT, progress of women, culturally and academically, and developmental initiatives that have been repackaged making the whole nation competent in almost all spheres.
What are the effort taken towards
the expansion of ICT in education?
Altogether 501 local bodies in the form of Panchayats are working for the development of local education policies, in which unions with small Union Information Centres (UIC) are the main sources and forces for the government of Bangladesh. These UICs teach people the basic norms and techniques of technology and importance of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Besides, we also have 22 Upzilas (sub-divisions) working for the betterment of ICT. Here we are planning to have a hub of ICT, with the help of Korean Overseas International Corporation Agencies (KOICA) and Axis Bank, Korea and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). But certain geographical and financial problems are still persistent, including absence of electricity in remote rural areas, any char (isle) lanes where connectivity through only boats is possible, coastal areas which are prone to cyclones and drought-prone Northern areas mainly
attacked with starvation
The Indian government has determined to introduce ICT primarily to students of classes from 9th to 12th. What is your policy of inclusion of ICT in school and university education?
We have a different educational policy altogether. The primary education that we cater encompass till standard eight, followed by four years of higher or secondary education. We have decided to upgrade our educational policy with the blend of ICT where we have already spoken to the Korean Education and Research Information Service (KERIS) about it. KERIS has been developing ICT substantially the not only in Korea but also in Morocco and other countries at primary education level. For ICT, now we also have a programme of Access 2 Information (A2I). Prime Minister’s private secretary Mr. Nazrul Islam Khan is in charge of this with the UNDP Bangladesh. We want to improvise the sector of Madrasah education as students who pass out of these schools get no jobs for the improper uplift they are brought up in. The students after that are reportedly involved in criminal activities. In 2004, out of the 64 districts, 63 were attacked sequentially with bomb blasts and they have been able to attack major
places like, District Magistrate’s court, session judge’s court and public library. Although I do not blame these people directly but feel if this particular forte is upgraded then Bangladesh would be worth admiring. Under my guidance, new educational policy has been adopted after it was passed by the parliament in December 2010, 40 years after independence. We still have stiff opposition against this policy, including religious extremists. So we want to upgrade these institutions with basic subjects like history, geography and mathematics as the primary topics. Not only do we want to apply this in these schools but also in all types of schools, including English medium, where the national anthem isn’t taught to the children. The institutions after this application should be uniformed mass oriented and science and technology based hubs. Besides, we are also focussing on developing the university level studies by the advent of science and technologybased studies. We have already set up 12 varsities and also focus on implementing his idea in other universities, where besides a normal degree; a student should have the basic knowledge of science and technology that is ruling the market in today’s world. Therefore, our focus is mainly on information technology where every college should have a separate department for ICT that would help bring the students in the forefront and not only make them competent enough to meet the present demands of the industry but also lead the country en route success.
What is the University system and structure in Bangladesh?
At present, we have 33 public universities in the country, including the new ones mentioned earlier, and by the end of this year the number would increase to 50, including one Arabic University. Only the Madrasah Universities and all the schools under this category would
be controlled by the Islamic University in Kustia. All the universities are autonomous and self governed and over 2000 colleges are there that offer two-year degree courses, BME or Carl Michael, but they cannot offer degrees. Therefore, they should be under some university.So now all the colleges are taken under the National University of Bangladesh, Dhaka and all Madrassa education, which was earlier, controlled by boards, by the Islamic University, Kustia.
Is there any second language eing taught in Madrassas apart from Bangla which is a primary language? How are you going to implement your Millennium Development Goals? What kind of outcome are you expecting?
Now English has been made a compulsory language in the primary six subjects taught as the condition of English speaking power have relatively deteriorated. So it is made compulsory till Aliya Madrasah (equivalent to M.A).
The PM has promised that in 2021 Bangladesh will be a moderate income country and during the last twoyears, our growth rate has crossed more than 6 per cent from the stagnant 4-5 per cent. This year it has been 6.5 per cent. It’s a steady progress of the economy
We have a non-formal education system and a separate ministry of primary and non-formal education. But now we have placed the papers in the National Assembly about implementation of Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and the child mortality rate has even come down after carrying out this policy. We have even been
awarded by the UN for this achievement. Next in the pipeline, we would also be getting another award for cent per cent school enrolment but it’s followed by a big problem indeed. From class one to five, the dropout rate is almost 50 per cent. As per my opinion may be they do not find this system worthy enough or interesting and the thoughts of the parents are also similar because they think that if these children work then they would earn money for the family. Therefore, to avert this type of thoughts, we have revised the courses with the help of JICA and made
Almost 50 per cent of the population is literate and when we were in the govt from 1996-2001, we had increased it to 64 per cent as our Total Literacy Movement (TLM) worked wonders for us, but with the change of govt everything changed and the literacy rate has come down again as they stopp ed our practise
the country will be totally free from illiteracy. The third goal under MDG is gender equity. In fact the enrolment rates report that the admission of girls is even more than boys in every sector, including Madrasah organisations. In future, we would also have onethird of the electorates (100 members) directly elected by the ladies. That means, from the present 45-member strength we have in reserve for ladies, it would go up to 100. In the local government, in the municipal corporation unions, Upzilas (sub-divisions), of all the members, one-third are women. This is another gender parity we have
With the new education policy, what is the investment that you see in the recent 3-5 years?
the coming decade. We will try to make it in six-years of time. In 2014, we will go for election. We are arranging for it and are capable of doing that. The setback is that as there is very less Research and Development (R&D) activity in Bangladesh, besides a shortage of technical persons. Therefore, every high school will have a technical institute. It will be part of the curriculum and compulsory. The religious things will be totally untouched. We will make them potential human workforce. We are basically an agrarian country. That is why we cannot have a fine and smooth cooperation between industry