Bangladesh to welcome global knowledge to unleash creativity of youths: PM

DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan 19, 2017 (BSS) - Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today said Bangladesh would welcome global knowledge and business to unleash creativity and innovation of the millions of country's youth.

Sheikh Hasina said, "Bangladesh is positioning itself to be part of the emerging global knowledge economy as our government has rolled a mission of Digital Bangladesh in spite of so many developmental challenges."

"We would welcome global knowledge and business to join us in unleashing creativity and innovation in millions of our youth. Surely, there is much mutual win-win," she said.

The prime minister was speaking at the "Digital Leaders' Policy Meeting on Jobs" of the World Economic Forum (WEF) as the special guest at Sheraton Hotel here this afternoon.

This year, the WEF has chosen Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as the special guest and a panelist in view of Bangladesh's 'demonstrated success' in digitization of economy (Digital Bangladesh).

The premier said Bangladesh wanted to expose millions of its youths to most advanced technologies, knowledge and skills courtesy ICTs.

"Our aim was to bridge the knowledge and technological gaps within our societies as also with outside world," she said.

She said Bangladesh would continue to have a youthful population for at least next three decades and today, one-third of Bangladesh population is between 10 and 24.

"Our people are receptive and highly adaptive to any technology, including ICTs: today, Bangladesh has the 10th largest mobile phone subscribers' population globally. Over 60 million people are online, mostly with smartphones," she added.

In terms of strategy, she said, Bangladesh is employing technology and related knowledge - solutions - innovation to: (a) enhance human capital and skills, (b) deliver critical services effectively, and (c) create right synergies between knowledge - employment - skills - employment.

Sheikh Hasina said throughout this week, Davos is reflecting about the future of production - work - technology and related issues. WEF Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab explained the ways the world of work and production systems are transforming unlike any time before.

"Yes, technology is to improve our lives and facilitate living. In a globalized world, we all must ensure that every individual gets a footprint in the changed space - in terms of choices, access and opportunities. As we move, we must see that technology does not become a limiting factor for people's peace - stability - prosperity," she said.

The premier said that facing an emerging new global landscape, as early as in 2009, Bangladesh brought in its political vision - Vision 2021 (of graduating Bangladesh as an middle income country) and Vision 2041 (of shaping as a developed nation).

She listed that to date, Bangladesh have developed National Roadmap on ICT in Education. Focus is 'ICT for education', not 'ICT education'. "We aim to develop our children's skill competencies through digital learning contents," she said.

For example, the prime minister said Bangladesh now have over 23,000 multimedia classrooms in secondary schools; and around 14,000 more are coming in primary schools.

She said around 150,000 secondary and high school teachers countrywide are registered in unique online social platform called 'Teachers' Portal' and in that, they share and access over 80,000 contents developed by other registered teachers.

"We aim to sign up all 900,000 teachers by 2021 so that they can share content, obtain their national recognitions, generate ideas on problem solving," she said.

She said Bangladesh is now developing a wider e-learning platform - MuktoPath - as Bangladesh's "Coursera"! and it can help Bangladeshis anywhere to develop skills and create jobs and diversify their skills portfolio. "This is our way to help our youth remain relevant in a new world of work," she said.

At the next level, she said, her government is trying to assess changing patterns of work, analyse market and prioritize skills development, by linking dynamically with manufacturing and service industries. "Our approach is 'inclusive': embracing formal as also informal sectors across the economy, also focusing ethnic minority communities," she said.

Sheikh Hasina said the country has a comprehensive National Skills Development Authority - to address entire ecology of skills and work saying, "We now plan to develop a unique 'Skills and Employment Dashboard' to coordinate and monitor all skills development initiatives across all sectors," she said.

The prime minister said that her government has been revamping and branding its entire Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET). "For that, we are developing a '360 degree Human Development Media Platform' - to make TVET exciting, recognized, dignified and current,"

Obviously, she said, a key focus is to make the youth self-employed through ICTs. Today, Bangladesh has one of the largest pool of IT freelancers (around half a million) across the country while the government is now emphasizing more on women freelancers, and also to support development of IT freelancers in remote or under-privileged areas.

"A third enabler is the range of developmental solutions - to complement our efforts in so many ways," she added.

For example, Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh has over 4,500 Union Digital Centres - connecting every nook and corner of Bangladesh saying these have created a new economy and every month, these centres deliver over five million services.

Besides, she said, this have saved poor citizens over half a billion dollars since 2010 and created 10,000 new digital self-employment opportunities.

As part of social re-engineering, the prime minister said Bangladesh government has been trying to simplify 'Service processing' - to come up with innovation in delivery of vital services like birth registration, land records, passports.

"We back that up with over 600 pilot initiatives across healthcare and education, crops and fisheries, land and human rights. To scale those up, we have a 'Service Innovation Fund' which have attracted over 3,000 proposals from actors within and beyond government," she added.

At the grassroots, she said, her government encourage self-employed 'one-stop services' and this has led to 10,000 entrepreneurs - half of which are female.

Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali and State Minister for ICT Division Zunaid Ahmed Palak were present at the meeting.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)