Md. Joynal Abdin
The Financial Express on March 23, 2009
To all appearances, this country is heading towards a middle-income economy. Right now, it is still a least developed country (LDC) with quite a very large portion of the population living hand to mouth. Obviously, there are a very few members of the elite and a number of well-to-do families in this country, but how many? They are probably not more than several thousand such families, which means they are too small in number measured against a 150 plus million population. A significant number of them constitute middle or lower income families.
The middle or lower middle-income families work hard to ensure a sound education and provide solid cultural environment for their much-cherished offspring. The ultra rich educate their children abroad and employ them in the family business after completion of studies. But who are the majority actors in this social process? Obviously, they are middle or lower middle-income families. The higher middle-income families educate their meritorious children in good schools, colleges and universities, despite their many limitations. They suffer but education expenses are met on a priority basis with the hope that their sons and daughters will complete studies with brilliant result and will get a job to lend a hand to the family in its struggle to attain financial solvency. The hope was that they will bring affluence to the family after the parents grow old.
However, there are too many subjects in our educational courses at the university level, which are not directly related with the practical job field. For example, philosophy makes us wise, psychology helps us to think about the human nature and history enables us to enrich our judgment but what prospect those subjects have in the job market in today’s world? Some of the students are becoming teacher on the subject but what about the rest?
Those subjects certainly need to be learned. But for the majority of students these subjects should be in addition to the major ones like BBA or B.Com or BSc (Science is being neglected these days which will lead to greater woes in the future, so there is still time to remedy). A student has to be educated in these subjects like Sociology, Psychology, Political Science, Philosophy and History but the major will be the core subjects of medicine, engineering, management, marketing, accounting, etcetera. Obviously, as a result, a BBA graduate is to study almost forty different courses and become specialised in one particular subject only. This system enables a student to have knowledge about all other subjects and a specialist in one.
If demand-based curriculum is introduced at the primary level for the poorer families who wish to have a job for their children after completing primary education as trade courses or practical courses in sewing cloth or operating any machine used in a garments factory or in a printing press or in an ice-cream factory or bakery then after successfully completing that primary level, one must get a job in a garment factory or in a printing press or in an ice-cream factory or in a bakery as an operator with a satisfactory salary to employ him or being self-employed.
In the same way, all existing honours and masters’ courses will be there but every course will include at least one-third marks from the demanded course of business leaders. For example, in honours we used to be educated in 4000 marks in four years’ programme if 1500 marks include from demanded courses by avoiding some repeated courses teaching presently at the undergraduate level. Presently we see at least five times more repetition of some courses at the honours level with almost similar curriculum.
Finally, the demand-driven courses can be taught with major marks for the core courses. These courses will be designed based on the recommendations of the curriculum setters focusing on the required skills and knowledge as required in different sectors.
These ‘demand driven education courses’ will be rescheduled every ten years based on current requirement of skills and knowledge. It needs to be borne in mind that this is the computer and Internet age. Engineering and medicine are what has brought about the present global village inhabited at the higher stages by those of greater life span.
These courses need to be practical. So, for example business courses will include significant marks for part time industrial attachment. The students will get theoretical as well as practical knowledge about their specific field of study and they will be more efficient to perform their daily tasks in the job field.
Thus, our business leaders can get adequate qualified personnel in respective fields to expand their business to meet the challenges of globalisation. Our students will get a job with proper salaries after completing the degree and our society will get relief from the burden of unemployment.
This kind of system tried out on the ground can supply skilled manpower for the sectors concerned (be it pharmaceuticals or business) and ensure full utilisation of our human resource potentials. Our business leaders, government, academicians and the decision makers have to decide what the need of the hour is: educated unemployed burden of the society or employed human resource for betterment of the society. The government should play its role to have the best.