Government initiatives are already underway to thoroughly restructure technical and vocational education, aiming to ensure enrolment of 20 percent of SSC and HSC-level students by 2020 and 30 percent by 2030, said Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid yesterday.
Deemed crucial for national development, the sector is the government's top priority, he said, adding that 13 percent of the students were now attaining technical education and this was less than one percent eight years ago.
Nahid said this while making public the addition of $100 million in funding from the World Bank for an ongoing Skill and Training Enhancement Project (STEP), run by the Directorate of Technical Education.
This fund will ensure vocational skills for 420,000 students, helping them find better jobs at home and abroad, said the organisers at the programme, arranged at a hotel in the capital by the education ministry and World Bank.
Launched in 2010, the project already provided stipends to over 110,000 diploma students in 93 private and public polytechnic institutions, they said.
Moreover, nearly 77,000 youths received free six months' vocational training in 38 trades including that in electrical, automotive and garment sectors, they said.
Of the students, nearly one-third were females, 95 percent completed courses and 42 percent got jobs within six months of completing courses, they added.
Nahid said technical and vocational education created a big opportunity for jobs and self-employment.
“Despite receiving higher education, some youths are still unemployed, but none of those who received technical education or a vocational training is unemployed. They get jobs soon after graduation,” he said.
He said the government updated the curriculum of technical courses and launched double shifts in state-run polytechnic institutes.
There are over 7,000 private technical institutes and a modern technical teachers' training college will soon be set up, he said. Qimiao Fan, World Bank country director for Bangladesh, said, “A more skilled workforce is crucial for Bangladesh to realise its aspiration of becoming an upper-middle income country. For this, the country needs to invest more in education, skills and training.”
He said the additional financing would help improve the quality of technical and vocational education and training.
World Bank's total funding for STEP now stands at $179 million while the Canadian government provided $16.7 million in grants. The Bangladesh government also provided some funds for the project, scheduled to end in 2019.
Senior Secretary for Public Administration Kamal Abdul Naser Chowdhury and Education Secretary Md Sohorab Hossain also spoke.