Young Bangla of the Centre for Research and Information, held its 46th Let’s Talk event on May 31st, 2023, at Rabindra University, Bangladesh. Let’s Talk serves as a policy discussion and idea-sharing platform between young minds and policymakers in Bangladesh. The 46th Let’s Talk, organized by Young Bangla, focused on the topic of ‘Education and Culture,’ with the participation of over 350 students from the Shirajganj district.
The panelists for this interactive session included Dr. Dipu Moni MP, Minister of Education; Anwarul Abedin Khan MP, Member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Agriculture; Professor Dr. Md. Shah Azam, Vice Chancellor of Rabindra University, Bangladesh; and A.T.D. Angel, General Secretary of Choupash Natyanchal and recipient of the Joy Bangla Youth Award 2017.
The youth from the Shirajganj district posed questions to the panelists on various topics, including the importance of cultural practices, the correlation between education and culture, the contemporary education system of Bangladesh, the gap between industry and academia, and the youth’s contribution to culture, among others.
Regarding the increase in cultural practices among students, Dr. Dipu Moni MP, the Minister of Education, emphasized the importance of cultural enhancement to acquire true knowledge, as culture and education are intertwined. She shared that the education system of Bangladesh is adopting new practices to introduce students to cultural activities within the classroom through interactive learning at the primary and secondary levels.
Dr. Dipu Moni MP stated, “We have incorporated interactive learning at the primary and secondary levels, where children now receive quality education through cultural expressions such as performing plays, reciting poetry, experiential learning, and active learning, among others. Students will learn to work both individually and in groups. This will develop their soft skills, such as communication, leadership, critical thinking, problem-solving, and more, from a young age.”
Students expressed their concerns about the gap between industry and academia, and the Minister of Education responded by stating that despite the number of educated students, there is a shortage of available qualified jobs. She suggested that only the youth can solve this problem by creating more job opportunities through entrepreneurship. Additionally, she proposed the addition of mandatory courses in Language, ICT, Soft Skills, and Entrepreneurship to every department at the tertiary level. Furthermore, new course modules and teacher training programs are being developed.
Participants raised concerns about the lack of infrastructure for cultural practices and the establishment of new universities. Dr. Dipu Moni MP commented, “It is crucial for every student to have a proper campus life during their educational journey. It not only provides them with an ideal environment to study but also offers them a space to explore life and engage in cultural activities. Some of the newly established universities are enrolling students before having a proper campus. We are looking into this matter and expect that they do not continue this practice.”
Students expressed concerns about some teachers promoting conservatism, bigotry, and fanaticism. Anwarul Abedin Khan MP, Member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Agriculture, responded, “Teachers should be more careful about their teaching practices and approaches. The administration can scrutinize the recruitment process to minimize problems like these in the classroom.”
Professor Dr. Md. Shah Azam, Vice Chancellor of Rabindra University, Bangladesh, acknowledged that students often feel dissatisfied with the lack of space for cultural practices and programs, which many institutions fail to provide due to oversight in their infrastructural design. He requested that new universities in the process of establishment conduct demand mapping to identify students’ needs for such cultural enhancements and take appropriate action.
When asked how youths can increase their cultural practice and awareness during student life, A.T.D. Angel, the youth representative, advised, “Join cultural organizations that interest you during student life. If you cannot find what you are seeking, create your own cultural organization and provide others with the missing platform. Additionally, to strengthen our cultural bond, build connections within your own community through sharing and supporting one another.”