It is all about education again. The President not long ago directed the University Grants Commission to take measures to ensure the quality of research in universities. One cannot disagree with him that in order to keep pace with global standards, which are now much competitive and demand nothing but the best from everyone, our universities, both public and private, should go through tough qualitative reforms in the education system. The quality of research ensures how competent a university is in imparting higher education. Unfortunately, a constant increase in budgetary allocation for research could not improve the quality of research. That is most unfortunate.
Education without research is impractical. A graduate engaged in developing his professional career will surely fail to connect his education with the particular profession he chooses. Here lies the liability of the universities, because universities are the guide whose responsibility is not only to provide students with lessons but also ready them for their future professions. While universities are bound to spend a substantial amount of money on research, considering it a key part of higher education, in the practical sense not many are doing the same. A reluctance to spend on research has over time led to a decline in the standard of university education in the country. Consequently, most universities in Bangladesh have failed to find places among the top universities across the world. How can higher education be imagined without research?
Education is the key to any civilization where overall progress and social harmony are the objectives. And research is an integral component of education. If western civilization is taken as a point of reference, universities and research centers in Europe and the United States will impress anyone who cares about education. On education and research Denmark spends 7.8 per cent of its GDP, Norway 6.8 per cent, Sweden 6.6 per cent, Finland 5.9 per cent, France 5.6 per cent, the United States and the United Kingdom 5.5 per cent each; and among the newly developed countries, South Korea spends 5.0 per cent, Brazil 5.1 per cent, Hong Kong 4.5 per cent, China 4.3 per cent and Malaysia and Thailand 4.1 per cent each. Bangladesh spends a mere 2.2 per cent. If a future, modern Bangladesh is envisioned to be in the leading stream of civilization, education and research must be accorded the topmost priority, with a maximum of resources being allocated to this sector.
If we mean to catch up with the rest of the world, there can be no alternative to research in education. We hope the UGC and all other stakeholders will take this reality into cognizance as they formulate a national vision for the future.
By Editor-in-Chief - Enayetullah Khan