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Monday, May 9, 2016, Baishakh 26, 1423 BS, Shaban 1, 1437 Hijri

WB to pump in $100m extra to perk up vocational edn
Abu Sazzad
Published :Monday, 9 May, 2016,  Time : 12:00 AM  View Count : 28
The World Bank (WB) approved an additional US$100 million financing to scale up its support to strengthen technical and vocational education in Bangladesh.
In this regard, the Education Ministry and World Bank on Sunday launched the implementation of the said financial assistance under the ongoing project titled "Skills and Training Enhancement Project (STEP) at a city hotel.
This financing will provide 200,000 poor students to complete vocational training and diploma courses, which would help them find better jobs in local and overseas markets.
The WB's total support to the project stands at $179 million, with co-financing of $16.7 million in grants from the government of Canada. Directorate of Technical Education under Education Ministry is implementing the project.
The project offers vocational training opportunities that respond to market demand to the poor. To date, more than 110,000 diploma students from low-income households have received stipends in 93 polytechnic institutions. In addition, nearly 70,000 short-course trainees received free 6-month vocational training in 38 trades including electrical, automotive and garments. Within six months of completion of the courses, 42 per cent of the trainees got employed.
Addressing the function as chief guest , Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid  said that the country needs more efficient and skilled teachers to create more skilled human resources.  "The aim of our education system is to create a modern Bangladesh. A modern education system could help the government achieve the target of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)," Nahid said.
"Bangladesh is a small country, but its population is very high. The people are not our problem, rather it is our asset. Majority of our people are young," the Minister observed.
He underscored the need for providing modern technological knowledge to the young generation to attain the vision of the government or SDG.
"Technical education is very important to achieve this goal. The country needs more skilled engineers, doctors, scientists, quality teacher, skilled manpower to attain the goal of SDG", the Minister asserted.  
The government is sincerely working in this regard with a view to creating a knowledge based society. The minister appreciated the development partners like WB for their contribution to the development of country's education sector.  
 Bangladesh needs to create more and better jobs for the 1.3 million youths entering the labor force every year to accelerate economic growth, Nahid said.
"The additional financing will continue to improve the quality of skills training and employability of youth in local and overseas job markets. Strong market-oriented skills will help the youths find better jobs and higher earnings," Nahid said.
Addressing as the special guest, WB Country Director for Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal Qimiao Fan underscored the need for ensuring quality education for the young generation to attain a vibrant economy. He also stressed for reducing gender inequality in the education sector for meeting the target of SDG. The WB country director suggested the government to create more skilled manpower to attain a higher income country.
"Our aim is to assist primary, secondary and the vocational education sectors to get future prosperity of Bangladesh. A more skilled workforce is crucial for Bangladesh to realize its aspiration of becoming an upper-middle income country. For this, the country needs to invest", Qimiao said.
The additional financing will expand coverage of institutional development grants to public and private polytechnic institutions. With the financing, an increased number of private and public polytechnics will be able to improve classrooms and laboratories, and establish industrial partnerships for internships, job placement and job counselling services. The additional financing will scale up the coverage of short-course trainings, he said.
Strong polytechnic institutions can make a meaningful dent in the job market, when their offered courses match with the market needs," WB director mentioned.
Sohrab Hossain, Secretary of the Education Ministry presided over the function. A good number of government officials, civil society, academics and development partners also took part in the workshop.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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