Technical education can equip the young people with the right skills for the job market

Md. Jahangir Alam is the Director (Planning and Development) of the Directorate of Technical Education (DTE) under the Technical and Madrasah Education Division of the Ministry of Education. In an interview with the Skills 21 project, Mr Jahangir talks about the governments' upcoming projects, plans, and many more initiatives in modernising the TVET system.

Comment | Dhaka | 13 July 2021

How much employment-oriented is the technical education and training system that exists in Bangladesh?

The potential for technical education for employment is immense. Technical education is included in SSC, HSC and Diploma level. In addition, the institutes run 360 hours’ worth of short courses and Competency-Based Training and Assessment (CBTA). CBTA helps getting a competency-based job for potential workers. RPL is another job-focused approach to certify the skills and experiences of workers that do not have any formal learning experience or certification but only through an assessment.

The government also introduced and implemented a technical education framework - known as NTVQF, which helps make the TVET graduates employable.

About 2 million young people enter the job market in Bangladesh every year. How is the government planning to expand the TVET system to cater for these new market entrants?

The government is planning to establish TVET institutes at upazila (sub-district) levels to reach out to more students and expand the NTVQF through CBTA for immediate employment. We are also encouraging students who are in SSC and HSC VOC, diploma and short-courses to assess their skills level through CBTA courses and get a certificate to demonstrate their competency.

To reduce the demand and supply gap, what measures are in place to make stronger linkages between institutes and industry?

DTE emphasizes the linkages between the institutes and industries to reduce the skills mismatch. Institutional Management Advisory Boards (IMAB’s), careers guidance and job placement cells are some initiatives that DTE has taken to create better linkages. Till date, more than 581 MoUs have been signed between various industries and TVET institutes under DTE. The IMABs create a platform where industry experts provide valuable support to the institutes on issues like the latest machinery and new skills sets required by industries. Furthermore, dual training systems - introduced in the model TVET institutes - give students practical experience on modern production systems.

How does DTE plan to expand the competency-based training system?

To expand, we need to equip more and more laboratories and increase the number of quality trainers and assessors. That’s why we’re setting up two Centre for Skills Excellence (CSEs) with the technical support from Skills 21 project. We also plan to increase the number of registered training organizations who can implement NTVQF. The government is focused on building the capacity of TVET managers & trainers using national and international opportunities. In next 4/5 years, we hope to implement CBTA in all levels and streams of the technical education system.

How do you see technical education in Bangladesh in five years’ time?

We have a severe shortage of TVET teachers and trainers compared to the number of students. The government has already committed to recruiting 12,607 more teachers and staff in the existing government polytechnics and TSCs in the next fiscal year - currently we have 7,000 teachers. Apart from this, recruitment of 6,400 teachers and staff will be started in 100 newly established TSCs.

It has been decided that 30,000 educational institutions will introduce at least one course on technical education from the sixth grade onwards in the curricula by 2022. With the vision of establishing at least one quality technical education institution in each upazila, admission and academic activities in six grade onwards are going to start from next January 2021. The government already approved and started the establishment of one TSC in each of the remaining 329 upazilas under the ongoing TSC establishment project in 100 upazilas. A 200-bed dormitory will also be set up in each TSC to increase the enrolment of female students. All the districts will have at least one polytechnic institute - besides the existing 49 government polytechnics are being set up in the remaining 23 districts.

How has DTE responded to the disruption to skills delivery caused by the ongoing pandemic?

We have taken a number of rapid response initiatives to reduce disruption in training and education in TVET. With support from the Skills 21 team, DTE has developed a COVID-19 response plan for the TVET sector. With the direction from the Technical and Madrasah Education Division (TMED), DTE has been screening video classes on Shangshad TV for all SSC and HSC students since April 2020. This was followed by online classes in May 2020 using social media platform like Facebook, Youtube, Google and Zoom for HSC, Diploma, and short form courses. DTE-Skills 21 project supported TVET team to develop and upload the content, and to deliver the online training through the CSEs.

What other innovative changes is DTE preparing to future-proof the TVET sector?

We (DTE) are working towards a ‘blended’ teaching and learning system for the future. Online classes are playing a crucial role for TVET and we now have 1300-plus content on the online platform. DTE is also developing studios to prepare regular video content for these practical classes in eight divisional polytechnics.

The government is trying to ensure the quality of technical education and increase its need and acceptance to the youth in Bangladesh. For this, several steps have been taken for quality enhancement and development of technical education. Based on the six level NTVQF, formulation of Bangladesh Qualification Framework (BQF) with 1-10 level including higher education is ongoing with the support from Skills 21 project. With the support from ADB six new technical teacher-training institutes will be set up in the location of the existing polytechnics in those six divisions. A model polytechnic will be set up in Bangladesh to support the public and private diploma in engineering course providers following the Nanyang Polytechnic Singapore with the support from World Bank.