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Knowledge Index Performance Shows A Poor Bangladesh

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Liton Chandro Sarkar :
In a country where a GPA-5 holder in SSC examination says the national poet of Bangladesh Kazi Nazrul Islam wrote the national anthem of Bangladesh, Mount Everest is located in England or the capital of Nepal is Neptune, it is only natural that Bangladesh ranks last in South Asia on the Global Knowledge Index (GKI)-2020. Bangladesh has secured 35.90 points and ranked 112th among the 138 countries in the Global Knowledge Index.  Among the South Asian countries, India has secured the 75th position with a score of 44.40 and is followed by Sri Lanka (87th, 42.10), Bhutan (94th, 36.20), Nepal (110th, 36.20) and Pakistan (111th, 35.90).
The GKI has been made based on covering 138 countries, 133 variables and 199 indicators under seven sectors. These are: pre-university education; technical and vocational education and training; higher education and research; development and innovation; information and communication technology; economics; and general supportive environment. Of the 199 indicators 96 are gathered from international sources, while the rest 103 indicators are developed by the experts behind the entire evaluation exercise. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation jointly generating the GKI -2020. The GKI, produced annually since 2017, is a summary measure for tracking the knowledge performance of countries at the level of seven areas. It aims to measure the multifaceted concept of knowledge. The concept is a fluid one, often linked to related concepts such as 'knowledge economy' or 'knowledge society'.
Pre-university education is the first sector where the other sectors build upon. It represents knowledge capital and an enabling environment. Bangladesh ranked 117th with a score of 43.9 in this sector. The country did relatively better in the Technical and Vocational Education and Training sector where it placed 69th with a score of 49. The indicator shows the linkage between education and the labour market. Bangladesh is the worst performer in the higher education sector. The country ranked 129th with a score of 24.1. This sector indicates educating the youth, developing their qualifications, and expanding their knowledge and skills with a view to improving the country's productivity and competitiveness in global markets. The country achieved only 16.4 in the Research, Development & Innovation sector and ranked 96th. Moreover, Bangladesh ranked 97th with a score 43.1 in the ICT sector. These sectors help increase knowledge in national and regional levels and play an essential role in supporting the advancement of knowledge across all sectors. Knowledge Economy is the main driver of sustainable development, wealth creation, and job creation in various economic fields, across the industrial, agricultural, and service sectors. Bangladesh ranked 114th in this sector with a score of 31.5.The General Enabling Environment supports the 6 sectoral indices, as these sectors do not operate in isolation. Bangladesh ranked 115 with a score of 46.4.
This is very frustrating and there is no doubt that we have gaps in the seven sector mentioned by the GKI-2020. In the present global context, Bangladesh is falling behind in the necessary generation of knowledge, skill development, and investment in research and development.
Among the countries listed in the Global Knowledge Index, South Korea and Vietnam have a long history of war like ours. A big reason behind the progress of these countries is the huge investment in education and research. On a surprising note, Vietnam, only four years younger than Bangladesh and the country's top RMG competitor, ranked 66th in the 2020 index, 46 spots ahead of Bangladesh. Countries like Kenya spend 45 percent of their total budget on education. We have not yet been able to fix this rightful thinking. According to UNESCO (2018), on average, there are 15 students for every teacher in primary education and 13 students per teacher in secondary education across the OECD countries. In Bangladesh, it is 31 in primary education and 35 in secondary education. We need to recruit more qualified teachers and retain them with attractive remuneration to nurture and promote the creativity of our next generation.
The best way to practice knowledge is through the mother tongue. Without the practice of knowledge through the mother tongue, that practice does not deepen, does not last, does not become effective. We have not been able to do that. We have not been able to translate all the books of knowledge of the world. We have not been able to compile that book with all the knowledge of the world in our own language. We have not been able to convey that to everyone.
At present, Bangladesh has achieved success in terms of literacy rate, number of students enrollment in primary education, but the quality of education is lacking in our country.
We should emphasised the need for national-level efforts for building a knowledge-based society instead of remaining focused on material progress only. Attaining financial solvency, not knowledge, is the main focus in Bangladesh, which is a mediocre society in the real sense. We immediately need to take a more comprehensive initiative for a creative and knowledgeable next generation. This policy does not only improve the global knowledge index but also build human resources for national development.

 (Liton Chandro Sarkar is Deputy Inspector of Colleges, Bangladesh University of Professional; e-mail: liton.aioc@gmail.com)

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