Published in The Daily Star on Monday 25 February 2019

The education we’re providing is not enough

At a discussion on SDG implementation, speakers said it will be difficult for Bangladesh to achieve the set goals without creating jobs for the unemployed youth, and we agree with this assessment. Growing unemployment among the young has become a major cause for concern in recent years, as according to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics’ Labour Force Survey 2016-2017, youth unemployment was more than double the overall unemployment rate, recording a double-digit figure of 10.6 percent. On top of that, what is especially concerning is that unemployment seems to be increasing even more rapidly among the more educated segments of our population. The same BBS survey revealed that unemployment among young individuals who had received secondary level education was as high as 29.8 percent, while it was 13.4 percent among those who had received tertiary level education.

At a time when we’re trying to modernise our economy with the infusion of more advanced technologies, this trend runs contrary to what is expected. One would think that young people, who find it easier to adopt new technologies, would be in high demand in the job market. However, the fact that it is not the case shows that there is something seriously wrong.

One explanation is the lack of quality education and training that is being given at our educational institutions. And, as speakers suggested, given the increasingly competitive nature of the job market, young people have to be more versatile in the knowledge and skills they possess. Our educational institutions must be made to function in accordance with that, and our young people need to be encouraged to develop more technical skills besides receiving their general education.

We call on the government to take their advice and to bring about the necessary changes in our education sector. Additionally, it should draw up a long-term strategy to ensure that the country can benefit maximally from the productive and creative potentials of our young people.