Making the most of human resources

Dhaka,  Thu,  24 August 2017
Published : 13 Jul 2017, 19:48:51
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Making the most of human resources

Once education transforms for the better, the productivity of a nation increases in leaps and bounds until it reaches the optimal level. The gains of such resurgence of energy and intellect continue as long as there is good governance and rule of law. But first of all the country must know how to bring about a happy marriage between energy and intellect of the most active generation of today, writes Nilratan Halder
While observing the World Population Day 2017 on Tuesday, July 11 last, Bangladesh chose a rather disjointed theme "Family Planning: Empowering People, Developing Nations". If it is family planning, it means in the Bangladesh context keeping the family size small. Perhaps the sponsors wanted to mean planning with population. Indeed when the purpose is to reap demographic dividend, the country's population, workforce to be precise, should be in focus, not family planning which is a different proposition and there are other agencies to look after it. Under a broad policy family planning certainly counts when it comes to the issue of population structure. But that is more a coordinating job than making a comprehensive plan with working-age population. 

The middle portion of the theme is however significant. Empowering people means more than just economic emancipation; although, in this context economic empowerment is the principal objective. Developing the nation is more a derivative here than other types of development like infrastructural because that is exactly what is expected to be the result of empowerment of people. 

When a nation has as high as 65 per cent people in the working age group between 15 and 64, it is passing a most opportune moment to reap the best of demographic benefits. But unfortunately this is not happening in case of Bangladesh because the planning with the population has been nowhere near the ideal. Employment generation is an area that plays a pivotal role in such times. But whereas countries like Japan and South Korea have made full use of their booming workforces by heavily and properly investing in education and employment creation, Bangladesh is yet to properly plan for the right kind of education and its maximum use in the productive sectors. 

Education is the key to transforming the oversize population into right type of productive hands. Collectively they will propel the engine of growth. Even the rate of job creation and the gross domestic product (GDP) growth in their present states are incongruous. Creation of jobs falls far short of the around 7.0 per cent GDP growth for about a decade. It is even marked by deceleration so much so that the four million employments generated between 2010 and 2013 have shrunk to only 1.4 million between 2013 and 2015. 

Unemployment and underemployment have forced hordes of youths to look for jobs abroad. Some of them have even opted for illegal routes either to perish in seas, forests or land in jails in foreign countries. Their desperation in no way matches with the middle-income status this country is poised to attain. Something is terribly missing from the development recipe. Even some of the demands in the productive sector remain unmet by the huge army of graduates the current system of education is producing. Recruitment of foreign nationals to many of the upscale and mid-level posts in the garments sector became a compulsion rather than a choice. There is still little sign that the situation will change soon. 

Manpower resource development is a daunting challenge. No patch-up work will do. The policymakers have been experimenting with the country's school education system for a long time. The graduation level education has not been brought under review. Maybe, they are waiting for bringing about a stability at the secondary and higher secondary level first, then go for transforming the shape of education at the graduation level. But the age structure of the country's population is now unwilling to give them any more time for their experimentation with education.    

Explosion of knowledge in information and technology has left the traditional education unbalanced. Now is the time to respond to the call of new technologies and their applied functions. The young generation has responded promptly enough to prove that they do not lag behind their counterparts in the developed world. Now the need is to create the right space and pace for them to take full advantage of the digital dividend. 

The hardest job is to strike a balance between the traditional education system and amazing world of information and communication technology (ICT). Although the lure of ICT is irresistible, not all are expected to be techno-wizards. Different courses of education will be influenced by the ICT but this does not mean that literature will have no place in life. Commerce education still has its pre-eminence in business and industries. But first of all provision of mass employment has to be in the technical sector. As long as the country's economy does not get elevated to several higher stages, technical education and training of short duration will be suitable for the country. The government is soon going to hold an international conference on workers' training needs.  

Without massive investment in education, its quality cannot be radically improved. Once education transforms for the better, the productivity of a nation increases in leaps and bound until it reaches the optimal level. The gains of such resurgence of energy and intellect continue as long as there is good governance and rule of law. But first of all the country must know how to bring about a happy marriage between energy and intellect of the most active generation of today.  

nilratanhalder2000@yahoo.com



 
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