Biding time for taking blue economy challenge

Dhaka,  Thu,  21 September 2017
Published : 11 Aug 2017, 19:39:51
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Biding time for taking blue economy challenge

Prof. Sarwar Md. Saifullah Khaled
The Bay of Bengal is one of the world's largest marine ecosystems and it is also known for its biodiversity. It is assumed that Bangladesh has plenty of marine resources in the water within its sea limits. But the country is yet to explore its potential even five years after the verdict by an international court on the longstanding disputes with Myanmar and India regarding the maritime boundary. Last year Bangladesh purchased a marine survey ship from Malaysia at a cost of Tk 655 million. But nothing substantial has yet been done to tap the potential of our deep-sea resources. The country has immense possibilities for tapping the marine resources from the Bay. And it can contribute substantially to Bangladesh's economic development and create job opportunities for a large number of unemployed people. So what is now direly needed is to lay emphasis on this sector.

The education minister of Bangladesh has very recently stressed the need for engaging skilled manpower to explore and protect the country's marine resources and ensure the sector's contributions to the national economy. It is important to endorse the opinion of the education minister, when he says, "We still don't know how much resources are there within our sea area. We must explore and protect those. To do so, we need skilled manpower". The experts say that harnessing the blue economy has emerged as a new paradigm which calls for optimal utilisation of the resources with a minimum impact on the environment and ensuring sustained development of the sea. Therefore, the government needs to create sufficient and adequate skilled manpower to do extensive research on the marine resources and blue economy. The marine resources sector should also be developed equally alongside various other sectors for a prosperous economy that we are aspiring for.

Establishment of the Marine Science and Fisheries Institute in Chittagong is intended to serve the purpose of development of this sector. But it is riddled with a lot of problems, which should be addressed forthwith. However, marine resources institutes should also be set up in other places of the country as the blue economy is vital to push the overall economy of the country to a better destination. But it is to be noted that creating skilled manpower alone is not all. Side by side, the generation of employment opportunities is a must. Otherwise, skilled hands will find jobs abroad with better emolument and leave the country. At present the private sector displays a lack of interest in deep sea fishing. So the sector needs to be provided with all kinds of support and incentive for their involvement. As the private sector does not have enough expertise need to harness the sea resources, that is why it may need assistance from foreign countries which take the lead in exploring marine resources.

Presently the government has emphasised the need for attaching the highest priority to expansion of quality education to create capable and skilled manpower across the country to expedite the country's development process. Education is one of the basic human rights enshrined in Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Development of a country cannot be achieved without proper and meaningful education of its citizens. Thousands of people are acquiring degrees in the country every year. But, unfortunately, few of them are properly equipped with knowledge and skilled enough to face the challenge in a competitive job market and develop the existing resources of the country. And in the global perspective, a handful of them are eligible for productive employment within and outside the country.

When the government has taken various measures for promoting education in the country, including female education, it also needs to give attention to the fact that the country may become well equipped with human resources required for harnessing the blue economy. It is quite heartening to note that the country has achieved the lower middle income group status. For achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs) due emphasis should also be laid on the education sector to train up skilled manpower suitable for developing the key sectors, including the blue economy. People from both urban areas and remote rural areas should enjoy the equal facility of education to that end. There should not be any discrimination in providing quality education for producing skilled human resources.

The way the information technology (IT) sector is growing in the country, the people versed in this sector will contribute immensely to the economic development of the country. Only by receiving the right kind of education, a person can explore the growing job market and untapped resources of the country and at the same time get established in professional life. Thus one can improve one's economic conditions and contribute to the overall development of the country, including blue economy. There should not be any compromise on quality education, if we want to create skilled human resources, as it concerns the country's future development and wellbeing. Teachers and guardians can also play their vital roles in this regard so that the students are equipped with the knowledge and skill required to tap the country's untapped resources within its land and sea boundaries for sustainable and harmless development of the overall economy of the country.

 The writer is a retired Professor of Economics, BCS General Education Cadre.

Email: sarwarmdskhaled@gmail.com
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