Professor Mohammad Kaykobad of Computer Science and Engineering of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology took time off to discuss relegation of science education with Manzur H Maswood
The number of students studying subjects like physics, mathematics, chemistry and biology sharply decreased in Bangladesh.
In 2016, according to the University Grants Commission’s records 15.56 per cent of the students of public universities took physics, mathematics, chemistry and biology as their main subjects of study down from 21.65 per cent in 2012.
In 2016, show the records, 14 per cent of the students took engineering and technical studies as their chosen disciplines of study down from 15.25 per cent in 2012.
The declining interest in studying pure science and technological subjects was bound affect the nation, said educationists.
The reasons behind the decline in interest to study science and technology has been described as alarming by Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology professor of Computer Science and Engineering Mohammad
He thinks this nation’s economic growth, with its reliance on apparel workers, migrant labourers and other unskilled manpower, would not be sustainable though Bangladesh is on the track of becoming a low-middle income country.
Economic development to be sustainable must be driven by science and technology-driven industries, he said.
Kaykobad said that his apprehension was based on the students getting disinterested in studying science at school, college and university.
‘It’s very alarming,’ said Kaykobad.
‘Bangladesh with a huge population and limited resources cannot expect to achieve sustained economic development in the 21st century lacking skilled manpower to run science and technology-driven economy’, he said.
When the students lose the interest to study science with the policy makers remaining unaware about it, economic development cannot be sustainable, said Kaykobad.
Not long ago, he recalled, meritorious school students were invariably keen to be in the science group.
Meritorious students now choose business studies, said Kaykobad, comparing the huge difference in preferences between his own school days and the current trend.
Again not long ago, students of Korea and Malaysia took admission at Dhaka University to study science.
Now their students no more come to study in our universities rather many of students of Bangladesh are eager to go to these countries for higher studies, he said.
As Korea and Malaysia developed their education system with stress on science and technology their economy too became very strong, he said.
Kaykobad said that this country lacked the programme to popularize science education among school and college students.
He identified lack of good labs, easily understandable science curriculum and good school and college teachers as problem areas.
He said good teachers could revive school and college students’ interest in studying science.
Schools and colleges are not getting good teachers as they offer poor pay.
The universities too lack good labs and standard teachers, because the government makes inadequate investment for science education, Kaykobad said.
He said a small number of students who study physics, chemistry, mathematics and biology have no guaranteed jobs.
‘They face uncertainties in getting jobs because of shortage of technology-driven industries,’ he said.
This strange reality, he said, compels them to look for civil service jobs.
‘It’s a waste of merit and waste of investment’, Kaykobad said.
Private universities offer no opportunities to study physics, mathematics, chemistry or biology, and they offer subjects like computer science or BBA having demand in the job market, he said.
Even, he says, India earns about $140 billion from science and technology-based industries, but comparing with India’s population, Bangladesh should have earned at least $20
‘We have to turn our huge population into human resource by investing in science and technology education as it would be more profitable and sustainable in the long run,’ Kaykobad said.
‘Our policy makers should set a clear goal of popularizing science education and set the country on the path of science and technology-driven economy,’ he said.