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8 January, 2021 12:26:30 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 8 January, 2021 12:31:52 AM

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Global knowledge index and Bangladesh

In the present global context, Bangladesh is falling behind in the necessary generation of knowledge, skill development, and investment in research and development. Among the countries listed in the Global Knowledge Index, independent Korea and Vietnam have a long history of war in recent times.
Liton Chandro Sarkar
Global knowledge index and Bangladesh

In a country where a GPA-5 holder in SSC examination says the national poet of Bangladesh Kazi Nazrul Islam wrote the national anthem of Bangladesh, Mount Everest is located in England or the capital of Nepal is Neptune, it is only natural that Bangladesh ranks last in South Asia on the Global Knowledge Index (GKI)-2020. Bangladesh has secured 35.90 points and ranked 112th among the 138 countries in the Global Knowledge Index.

Among the South Asian countries, India has secured the 75th position with a score of 44.40 and is followed by Sri Lanka (87th, 42.10), Bhutan (94th, 36.20), Nepal (110th, 36.20) and Pakistan (111th, 35.90). The GKI has been made based on Covering 138 countries, 133 variables and 199 indicators under seven sectors. These are: pre-university education; technical and vocational education and training; higher education and research; development and innovation; information and communication technology; economics; and general supportive environment. Of the 199 indicators 96 are gathered from international sources, while the rest 103 indicators are developed by the experts behind the entire evaluation exercise. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation jointly generating the GKI -2020. The GKI, produced annually since 2017, is a summary measure for tracking the knowledge performance of countries at the level of seven areas. It aims to measure the multifaceted concept of knowledge. The concept is a fluid one, often linked to related concepts such as ‘knowledge economy’ or ‘knowledge society’.

Bangladesh’s performance on sectoral indices in GKI-2020:

Sectoral Indicators

Rank and Score

India

Sri Lanka

Bhutan

Nepal

Pakistan

Bangladesh

1. Pre-university Education

Rank

105

34

69

35

113

117

Score

49.9

69.8

60.3

69.6

46.9

43.9

2. Technical and Vocational Education and Training

Rank

38

105

93

137

112

69

Score

55.7

43.7

46.1

28.3

42.7

49

3.Higher Education

Rank

70

110

95

105

73

129

Score

38.9

30.8

33.6

31.4

38.7

24.1

4.Research, Development and Innovation

Rank

44

93

104

122

93

96

Score

27.3

17.3

14.9

12.4

16

16.4

5. Information and Communication Technology

Rank

76

90

93

114

107

97

Score

52.1

46.1

45.1

34.1

37.4

43.1

6. Economy

Rank

75

107

105

111

113

114

Score

40.6

33.6

33.6

32.3

32

31.5

7.General Supportive Environment

Rank

113

74

74

106

128

115

Score

47.5

58.3

58.3

49.5

38.5

46.4

Overall Position

Rank

75

87

94

110

111

112

Score

44.4

42.1

40.9

36.2

35.9

35.9

Pre-university education is the first sector the other sectors build upon. It represents knowledge capital and an enabling environment. Bangladesh ranked 117th with a score of 43.9 in this sector. The country did relatively better in the Technical and Vocational Education and Training sector. Here it placed 69th with a score of 49. The indicator shows the linkage between education and the labour market. Bangladesh is the worst performer in the higher education sector. The country ranked 129th with a score of 24.1. This sector indicates educating the youth, developing their qualifications, and expanding their knowledge and skills with a view to improving the country's productivity and competitiveness in global markets. The country achieved only 16.4 in the Research, Development & Innovation sector and ranked 96th. Moreover, Bangladesh ranked 97th with a score 43.1 in the ICT sector. These sectors help increase knowledge in national and regional levels and play an essential role in supporting the advancement of knowledge across all sectors. Knowledge Economy is the main driver of sustainable development, wealth creation, and job creation in various economic fields, across the industrial, agricultural, and service sectors. Bangladesh ranked 114th in this sector with a score of 31.5.The General Enabling Environment supports the 6 sectoral indices, as these sectors do not operate in isolation. Bangladesh ranked 115 with a score of 46.4.

This is very frustrating and there is no doubt that we have gaps in the seven sector mentioned by the GKI-2020. In the present global context, Bangladesh is falling behind in the necessary generation of knowledge, skill development, and investment in research and development. Among the countries listed in the Global Knowledge Index, independent Korea and Vietnam have a long history of war in recent times. A big reason behind the progress of these countries is the huge investment in education and research. On a surprising note, Vietnam, only four years younger than Bangladesh and the country's top RMG competitor, ranked 66th in the 2020 index, 46 spots ahead of Bangladesh. Countries like Kenya spend 45 percent of their total budget on education. We have not yet been able to fix this rightful place. It seen that the value of knowledge is not in the society now, not in the state, not in the educational institutions. We cannot give the value of knowledge even in the educational institutions where there is practice of knowledge. In order to achieve high standards, the faculty of the university or the research of the teachers, the laboratories of the students, the libraries must be of good quality. But we are lagged far behind it. There is a dearth of skilled teachers in such a large education system. According to UNESCO (2018), on average, there are 15 students for every teacher in primary education and 13 students per teacher in secondary education across the OECD countries. In Bangladesh, it is 31 in primary education and 35 in secondary education. We need to recruit more qualified teachers and retain them with attractive remuneration to nurture and promote the creativity of our next generation.

The best way to practice knowledge is through the mother tongue. Without the practice of knowledge through the mother tongue, that practice does not deepen, does not last, does not become effective. We have not been able to do that. We have not been able to translate all the books of knowledge of the world. We have not been able to compile that book with all the knowledge of the world in our own language. We have not been able to convey that to everyone. So knowledge does not depend on one or two people. Knowledge depends on the whole society. On the structure of the society that exists. There are many inequalities in the field of education in Bangladesh. There are many sub-sections in the education system, roughly three-section – Conventional and mainstream, English medium and religious section - these three are different, investment inequality is inequality in terms of skills. The education system should have proper alignment among primary, secondary, and tertiary provisions. These three sectors should work together to achieve the ultimate goal of education. The entire education system here is focused on quantitative progress for only fulfilling basic needs instead of making qualitative development. There must be encouragement on a national level for forging a knowledge-based society

The GKI index was especially important to produce this year so policymakers could use it as a tool to navigate through the coronavirus pandemic. Scientific research was one of the most important areas of focus in the index as well as in national priorities, pointing to the power of research in coming up with solutions such as the COVID-19 vaccine. About ranking lowest in South Asia, we need to focus more on these sectors to face future development challenges, rather than comparing with other countries. And there will be a big miss-match if we are not able to develop a skilled labour force and put more emphasis on research and innovation in parallel with the economic development policies such as the economic zones. We emphasise a lot on training, we need to spend a lot on research, innovation, knowledge creation and skill development. Bangladesh must not lag behind other nations in developing its human capital. For this is the only way to prosper nowadays.

At present, Bangladesh has achieved success in terms of literacy rate, number of students enrollment in primary education, but the quality of education is lacking in our country. Students from all the countries that were already almost equal to us, such as Vietnam, Thailand, used to come to study at Dhaka University. Now the students of our country go to study in those countries. In Bangladesh, all our efforts are only for material development. We may lag behind in future unless we link knowledge and cultural development with material development. We should emphasised the need for national-level efforts for building a knowledge-based society instead of remaining focused on material progress only. Attaining financial solvency, not knowledge, is the main focus in Bangladesh, which is a mediocre society in the real sense of the word. We immediately need to take a more comprehensive initiative for a creative and knowledgeable next generation. This policy does not only improve the global knowledge index but also build human resources for national development.

The writer is Deputy Inspector of Colleges, Bangladesh University of Professional. E-mail: [email protected]

 

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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