The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is now coming to the fore in the world. Keeping this 4IR in mind, the government is creating our skilled manpower. People of the country should be made skilled in technical and technology-based education and training. So that they can keep pace with the changing world. Skilled manpower can contribute to the development sector of our country. About one crore people are working abroad in different countries of the world. 88 percent of whom have no training, that is, about 7.6 million expatriates have no job training and the remaining 12 percent of expatriates have received training in any of the four categories of technical education, languages, computers and driving. Among the expatriates, the number of doctors, engineers, teachers and degree holders in vocational education is very low. We have to send skilled manpower to the foreign labor market.
The government has set a target to build a ‘Smart Bangladesh’ by 2041. Work has already started on this. Education is needed to create skilled human resources. Higher education institutions can play a major role in this regard. That is why it is said to reorganize higher education to survive in global competition. Realizing the need for skilled human resources, the Ministry of Education and the University Grants Commission have started reorganizing the education system with the aim of creating manpower suitable for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Various developments in technology and the reign of the industrial economy have brought revolutionary changes in the economic, political and social structure of the whole world. Now the global value of technical know-how is easily seen. It is possible to increase the amount of foreign exchange that is currently being earned from the manpower sector several times.
Bangladesh is continuously connecting with the global economy. Our communication channels are four export, import, investment and temporary migration. Imports of Bangladesh are much more than exports. Therefore, increasing investment (foreign) in the country and exporting manpower are the main means of strengthening the economy. Foreign investment will increase only when the country has sufficient resources, such as mines or land, capital or manpower. Unskilled manpower does not encourage foreign investment. In this case, only investment will be made in labor dependent sector. Bangladesh is exporting only one product. But in countries where labor skills are high, foreign investment increases in those countries. The same is the case with manpower exports. Workers are needed abroad. However, the demand for skilled workers is constantly increasing. Skilled workers earn about 10 times more than unskilled workers. The skill of the worker depends on the quality of education. So, changing the quality of education is very important. It will not be possible to change the education system through conventional thinking.
The 4IRis giving a new dimension to world civilization. The processes and possibilities of this revolution are already being widely discussed worldwide. The discussion is going on in our country too. Through this discussion, the prime minister and his adviser on information and communication technology are working tirelessly to create a kind of awareness among the people and make Bangladesh suitable for leading the fourth industrial revolution.
As we know, the 4IRis the fusion of physical, digital and biological spheres. Here physical is human, biological is nature and digital is technology. It becomes difficult to separate these three. What is the result of this? What kind of changes is happening in society? This results in intellectualization, human-machine interfaces, and the merging of reality and virtuality. To prepare us for the fourth industrial revolution, emotional intelligence, physical intelligence, social intelligence, and contest intelligence must be introduced into the mind.
Then we can prepare everyone for the 4IR in the future. But what will be created in the future is unknown. There are a few things we can do to prepare our generation for this unknown future. Information is a powerful element of civilizational change. Since the dawn of civilization, man has been eager to spread his experiential knowledge.The technological upheaval of the 4IR is everywhere. This revolution is causing huge changes in the world of thought, product production and service delivery. People’s lifestyles and the nature of the world are changing drastically. Perpetuates the wall of difference between the biological, terrestrial and digital worlds.
Artificial intelligence, robotics, the internet of things, virtual reality, 3D printing, genetic engineering, quantum computing, and other technologies are the revolution. The scale of this revolution, technology-based modernity and its associated complex system have also faced a major test of the ability of the governments of the world.
Especially when the government is committed to inclusive development by ‘Leaving no one behind’ in light of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Sustainable development, reducing inequality, safe work and responsible consumption and production are key challenges to implementing and achieving the SDGs. In addition to the education system, various technical and online technical skills are creating various employment opportunities. Platforms like ‘Kishore Batayan’ and ‘Shikshak Batayan’ have been developed in collaboration with a2i to make education easier.
Especially when the government is committed to inclusive development by ‘leaving no one behind’ in light of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Sustainable development, reducing inequality, safe work and responsible consumption and production are key challenges to implementing and achieving the SDGs. In addition to the education system, various technical and online technical skills are creating various employment opportunities. Platforms like ‘Kishore Batayan’ and ‘Shikshak Batayan’ have been developed in collaboration with a2i to make education easier.
As technology has become accessible to every citizen of the country, technology-based services are being made available to marginalized groups. Technology has become a trusted medium in all citizen services and lifestyles. In response to the fourth industrial revolution, the information technology sector of Bangladesh has emphasized various infrastructural developments including the development of skilled human resources. Bangladesh is striving to be among the top 50 countries in the United Nations e-Governance Development Index in the next five years.
5 initiatives of Digital Bangladesh have been internationally acclaimed. They are Digital Centre, Service Innovation Fund, Empathy Training, TCV (Time, Cost and Visit) and SDGs Tracker. With the help of information technology, young people are building small and big IT firms, e-commerce sites, app-based services and other organizations. Besides, some major achievements including Bangladesh’s first satellite in space have taken Bangladesh to a unique height in the eyes of the world.
If the data protection law is passed, foreign authorities including Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter will be forced to have offices in this country and keep the country’s information in the country’s data center. Creating a kind of awareness among the people is going on to make Bangladesh suitable for leading the 4IR andcreating skilled manpower. The invention of the telegraph, the telephone, the radio, and television gave impetus to the strong desire of people to spread information. In the mid-twentieth century, computers and later wireless technologies revolutionized information storage and dissemination. In today’s dotcom era, the entire world has literally turned into a ‘Global Village’.
Reskilling, upskilling and deskilling methods should be kept in mind. Existing learning programs should be accompanied by other digital-based systems, such as e-learning and online learning systems. That is, educational programs should be designed to develop technically skilled manpower.
As Bangladesh is still in the unskilled category in the export of manpower, the country has to bring people from abroad due to the lack of skilled manpower. For this reason, we have to follow the technical education model of different countries including Germany, Japan, Singapore, Australia, China, South Korea, and Malaysia. The technical education rate in Germany is 73 percent. It is necessary to adopt a master plan to raise the education rate to at least 60 percent in the country. Countries like Malaysia, Singapore, China and North Korea have developed technical education at the root of their development.
In preparation for the fourth industrial revolution, the Bangladesh government is going to include coding education in the school curriculum. Investment in computers and information and communication technology infrastructure in schools has increased under the Digital Bangladesh project. But the reality is that the education system of rural Bangladesh has not yet prepared our children and youth for the third industrial revolution. The rate of education participation and technology use has increased but the quality has not changed.
Uneven technology investments are difficult to sustain in the context of such a fragile public education system. It will further increase social inequality. Public technology investment in health, education, and trade in all sectors to deal with Corona is pushing Southeast Asian countries towards the fourth industrial revolution. Malaysia has been able to achieve great improvement in the field of education within just one year of technological reforms during the Corona period.
It is now very important to have various basic skills including programming. It is not enough to plan, apart from infrastructural development, our human resources also need to be properly prepared for this change. But there is hope, recently the five-year plan for the ‘National Artificial Intelligence Strategy’ has been taken up by the government. But without solving the root problem, these plans will not bring much benefit.
Bangladesh has not developed enough human resources with innovative knowledge, high skills, deep thinking and problem-solving skills. Therefore, the government has to hire experienced and skilled consultants from neighboring and other countries in various development projects and foreign investment areas. According to economists, more than 5 billion dollars is going out of the country due to this cost.
Bangladesh’s higher education is not effective, it can be understood from this recent statistical analysis. Bangladesh’s increasing progress and success in socioeconomic development is globally recognized. Bangladesh’s agriculture-based economy is gradually changing to an industrial and service-driven economy. On the other hand, the most rapid change is happening in the technology sector.
Japan overcame all natural odds by converting its population into skilled manpower. This example from Japan is most relevant to us. If we can convert the vast youth population of Bangladesh into public resources, it is not impossible for us to become a developed economy country.
Our curriculum is not very coherent with what kind of knowledge and skills are required in the industry. The education system will also need to be revamped to face the fourth industrial revolution. Bangladesh is still far behind in artificial intelligence, IoT, and blockchain technology. The scope of working in various fields such as traffic management, product supply, medicine, industry, banking, agriculture, and education is still wide open by using these technologies.
Hopefully, the government is giving importance to three things as the basis of the industrial revolution. These are -the development of the industry through the innovation of modern technology, the creation of a trained workforce and the conservation of the environment. The implementation of this announcement by the Prime Minister requires massive public-private joint ventures. So, we all have to move forward with a good plan from now on. Only then we will be able to reach our desired goal, we will be able to build the Sonar Bangla of Bangabandhu’s dream.
Therefore, our Ministry of Education, National Skill Development Authority, Bangladesh Economic Zone Authority, and Hi-Tech Park should unite and take short, medium and long-term plans for the development of technical education with the understanding of the 4IRwholeheartedly, and the government should increase the development budget in this sector. Otherwise, we will lag behind in the competition and face challenges in attracting foreign investment.
Information technology has brought a new dimension to the country’s economic activities. The convenience of financial transactions as a result of mobile banking has made life easier for common people. Advances in information technology have led to a proliferation of startup culture. Women are also involved in information technology. The presence of women entrepreneurs on social media is increasing. There are about 20,000 Facebook pages for shopping in the country. The work is going on efficiently. This is how our beloved Bangladesh will move towards Smart Bangladesh.
Hiren Pandit is a columnist
and a researcher