The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) Bangladesh organised an online discussion on the 'Future of Education' on July 16 2020.
In the webinar, the guests discussed the education sector that has been largely impacted by the Covid-19 situation. They focused on working on innovation in teaching, digital transformation, international standards, the gap between academic and industry expectations, entrepreneurship and different education policies.
‘We need accounts assistants at the school level’
Mohibul Hassan Chowdhoury, MP
Deputy Minister of Education
As our society is getting complex, we need more accounting and accountants. At the school level. We have computer operators, office assistants and many other posts but we don’t have any provision against corruption and lack of transparency there. So, we need accounts assistants for every school to ensure transparency. If you don’t know basic accounting, you will surely mix up everything and create problems. Now here comes the question about skills. Since we have existing computer operators, we have to think if we can enhance their skills with proper modules and trainings to be an accounts assistant. Accounting related tasks mostly rely on different software nowadays, so we need to think whether we can upgrade their skills with different courses.
‘Practice social and human qualities besides acquiring technical skills’
Prof. Dr. Md. Sazzad Hossain
Member, University Grants Commission (UGC)
We have to turn our dreams into reality. The goal of education is to create humanity. We have to practice social and human qualities besides acquiring technical skills. We have to focus on our education system just like what happens in Russia and China. We have to align our strengths with the education system. We had a structured education system here in the past. Applied education was present in schools too back then. Covid-19 has bound us to think in a new way. It is now time for us to rebuild the education system. Maybe we are lagging behind in many ways but we have our strengths and talents. We have to bring our strengths and talents together and build up a life-oriented education system and reduce the gap between our thought processes. Our present education system is successful in many ways. We just have to overcome the lacking areas.
‘Huge communication gap between academia and industry’
Prof. Dr. Munaz Ahmed Noor
Vice-chancellor, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Digital University (BDU)
There are two main objectives of an educational institution. Firstly, providing existing and newly industry oriented research knowledge to a student. Secondly, preparing a student to face the complex future. A student learns almost everything when s/he enters into the industry. The role of an educational institution is to provide the student with the basic knowledge to kick start their industry journey. There is a wide range of communication gap between educational institutions and industry expectations. There is no specific framework for what kind of primary knowledge the industry asks for from a student. As a result, the educational institutions cannot provide required knowledge to the students. There is some kind of an infrastructure in terms of technical education, but not for general education though.
The job of an educational institution is to prepare a student in a way so that s/he can learn non-formally. A student must have three capacities. Learning, unlearning, and re-learning capacities. Another capacity is 'learning to learn and thinking to think'. If the educational institutions can give these to the students, students will have the primary knowledge for the industry even if the gap with the industry does not disappear overnight.
‘Employers say students are not ready to solve industrial problems’
Policy advisor, A2I-ICT, GOB and UNDP.
The unemployment rate in our country is over 4%. But the graduate unemployment rate is 39 per cent, that’s about ten times higher. The employers say students are not ready to solve the industrial problems. That means our curriculum does not teach this to students. Our primary and higher education act similarly. The same method is applied both in primary schools and universities. We have to think about teaching and learning. We have to figure out how an adult learns. We don't have the ‘experience learning’ method in any educational institution, no proper internship either. If we cannot include the experience-learning in our education, we will be continuing to have this increasing unemployment rate.
Another major factor in education is motivation. The motivational approach is different for adults and children. The idea of getting a job mostly works for an adult to have an education. So our education system needs to change and level up with the job market. We have to set a specific goal i.e. what kind of professionals we want and if the education system is complying with that. We have to learn anywhere, any time with the digital platforms.
‘Educational institutions need to have a role in youth employment’
Education Specialist & Team Leader – South Asia,
Education Global Practice, World Bank Group
We need to go in a systematic manner to remove the gap between the educational institutions and industry expectations. About 40 percent of the working population of Bangladesh are outside the labor force for various reasons. One of the major reasons for this is the low participation of women in the workplace. But the biggest worry here is that 80% of the unemployed are young. This is because it is difficult to enter the workplace directly from an educational institution and lack of adequate jobs outside Dhaka. A large part of young graduates remains unemployed for almost two years. Educational institutions need to play a role to ensure employments for the young people. There are some projects running at the World Bank where employment is ensured after trainings.
We have to take preparation for the new jobs that will be created in the post Covid-19 world. We need to ensure the participation of private organisations to implement the development goals.
‘Covid-19 taught us four lessons’
Prof Dr Syed Ferhat Anwar
Director, Institute of Business Administration (IBA), University of Dhaka.
Covid-19 has taught us four specific lessons. Firstly, we are globally connected. Whether through Covid-19 or other trade impacts, all effects will come to us. Secondly, we never thought of using digital platforms before in the global learning process as a real-time learning source. We are living in an era of real-time learning. If we don’t do something today, tomorrow will be too late for us to do that. We have to stay in real-time in terms of upskilling. Thirdly, we must be proactive instead of reactive. To be proactive, we need to consider both the local and global dimensions. If we ensure these three lessons, the fourth will automatically come to us. That is called the communication skills. Along with them, some attributes of the social dimensions should be there as well.
‘Online classes expanded due to Covid-19’
Dr Muhammad Abdul Moyeen
Dean, Faculty of Business Studies, University of Dhaka
In the Covid-19 situation, we are not conducting any face to face classes. But has the role of a teacher changed? I don’t think so. As a teacher, my role is the same as before. Technology plays a big role behind the changes during this pandemic. Though we couldn't even imagine an online meeting before, but now it's a lot easier. We attend official meetings online. The internet is nothing new, meeting platforms are not new and this kind of video conferencing is not new either. But we are getting used to them quickly because of the Covid-19 situation. We can do better with this setting than what we could have done in the classroom, though we have some new challenges as well. Universities have to ensure the availability of technology for our teachers and students. It is not entirely the responsibility of the government. Private and specialised organisations must take it forward together.
‘We need communication skills’
Professor Md. Shah Azam
Department of Marketing, University of Rajshahi
In the past few years, the Bangladesh government especially the Ministry of Education has taken initiatives in terms of policies, infrastructure development and motivation to initiate the outcome based education in Bangladesh. We are moving ahead and designing our curriculum in accordance with what we want to do after switching over from the traditional education system. Our education system is still running amid the Covid-19 situation. And we have many achievements as well. The dropout rate has been reduced and the literacy rate has improved. Teacher-student ratio has improved too. It’s been positive from all sides.
Though we have an education system, but we don’t have the essential skills, motivation, mental setup and passion to nurture entrepreneurs. So, we have to think about this and bring in necessary changes. We need more communication skills and specific professional competences.
‘Interview facing skills should be provided by educational institutions’
Zareen Mahmud Hosein
Partner, Snehasish Mahmud & Co. Chartered Accountants
We are an approved employer of ACCA Bangladesh. Every year, several students come to us and later they get the chance to join MNC’s or big companies. We see that most candidates are technically very sound. But since it is their first interview, they come without any interview skills and cannot do well. A student should be trained with interview skills by their educational institution. We give priority to the meritorious ones. That's why students from different institutions get the opportunity to work here. We provide them with necessary trainings to make them strong workers. We help them focus on learning and not worry about finances. We arrange trainings with big organisations and industry leaders every month to improve their communication skills and other areas. These initiatives allow us to create competent workers in two to three years that the whole Bangladesh can be proud of.
‘Covid-19 has given pace to our digital development’
Chairman, Member Advisory Committee (MAC), ACCA Bangladesh
MD & CEO, Summit Communications Ltd
Last 10 years, we have installed 47,000 kilometers of fiber optics across the country. Now any educational institution gets the internet connection within a kilometer. There are currently about 100,000 kilometers of fiber optic lines across the country. Rural institutions still do not have access to a fast internet connection though. The government has a project to provide all government institutions with the access to the internet. Digital divides will be removed in the next few years. Besides, the government initiative will provide digital devices at a low cost. We are far behind in terms of the Global ICT Index, but our digital development has got a pace due to Covid-19. Hopefully, this will lead us to move forward.
‘The skills needed at work are changing rapidly’
Abu Daud Khan
MD & CEO, Enroute International Limited
The skills required at work are changing very quickly. That's why the skills learned at the educational institutions are no longer useful in the industry. Students, educational institutions, and employers all three have a responsibility in this regard. Even if we cannot remove the gaps between the industry expectations and educational institutions, we can at least improve our education system. Our universities are lagging behind in the world index. This shows that we have shortcomings in our education. If the universities teach properly, the qualities that are needed to get a job can be acquired by students at the same time. In many institutions, students still have a tendency to obtain certificates following stereotyped study methods and notes. Later, they struggle at work.
If we can ensure the quality of our current education, qualified candidates will come out eventually. If the lesson of learning can be obtained, that is enough.
‘E-learning campus concept has been a success’
CEO and Chairman, LCBS Dhaka Limited
Covid-19 forced us to postpone all classes from March. We were not mentally prepared to switch from face to face classes to e-learning. But there was no way to stop. Yet we have been able to fully turn our campus into e-learning using the existing infrastructure in the last four months.
The e-learning campus concept is real now. We had a few problems in the beginning. Apps and tools were not enough, no group study facilities and e-classroom. Though it was possible to take classes live, but we couldn't completely implement the full learning management at once. Now we have overcome those problems with the help of local and global setups.
‘Need opportunities to apply knowledge after learning’
Faisal Bin Maleque
Director, Edbase Professionals
When we want to educate our students, they take it temporarily. That means they are keeping it in for a short time. They don't bother about applying it later. Well, it may not be necessary at this moment, but they will fail later when they will be asked to apply it at work. They get scared because of the lack of confidence. I see students are just learning, not applying anywhere. But as a teacher of ACCA and entrepreneur, I see that ACCA students get prepared to enter the job market right after completing their ACCA qualification.
‘PSB is working with ACCA guidelines’
Mohi Uddin Sumon
CEO, Professional School of Business (PSB), Chattogram
We have a lot of limitations as a third world country. Still we move forward despite having limited resources. PSB has been continuing its activities following the ACCA guidelines since the outbreak started. We have informed students of the online classes. We have also contacted Sunway University of Malaysia through ACCA and conducting our activities using their platform. We hope our initiatives fit the global standard.
‘Complete outline of education is essential for the post Covid-19 situation’
Md. Ahsanul Hoque Bashar
Country Manager, ACCA Bangladesh
The education sector has been largely impacted by Covid-19. Considering the health risks, the face to face teaching method is currently hampered. But the matter of hope that the government has been arranging online classes for the students of different ages through the television. Along with that, other educational institutions have started teaching online as well. This is undoubtedly a message of hope and prospect for the future. However, a comprehensive outline and plans are essential for how we can continue digitally and what our roles should be to deal with such a situation in the future. Keeping them in mind, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) Bangladesh has organised this online discussion on the future of education.
Note that, the session host was Shah Waliul Manzoor, Senior Business Development Manager-Learning and the session moderator was Prawma Tapashi Khan, Education Manager, ACCA Bangladesh.
Md. Shafaat Ali Choyon, Senior Business Development Manager, Abdullah Al Hasan, Marketing Manager and GM Rashed, Business Services and Compliance Manager, ACCA Bangladesh were also present there.