To promote job-oriented education in Bangladesh, the government has decided to recruit for some 12,600 posts across technical colleges and polytechnics over three fiscals.
All the necessary procedures needed for the issuance of a government order paving the way for the creation of 12,607 posts — 1,061 cadre posts and 11,546 non-cadre posts — in the technical education sector were completed and sent to PMO. UNB has learnt that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has recently given her consent to the proposal.
The move aims at addressing the acute manpower shortage in 113 government institutes — 49 polytechnics and 64 technical colleges — under the Technical and Madrasa Education Division, the officials said.
Of the 1,061 permanent cadre positions, there are 20 vice principal posts (Grade-5 in the National Pay-scale, 2015), 169 chief instructors (technical, Grade-6), 57 chief instructors (non-technical, Grade-6), 510 instructors (technical, Grade-9) and 305 instructors (non-technical, Grade-9.
“The recruitment for the over 12,000 posts will be made in three financial years, starting this fiscal,” said Dr Md Omar Faruque, additional secretary of the Technical and Madrasa Education Division.
"The government is creating the posts to address the acute manpower crisis in the technical schools and colleges which are currently being run by one-third staff, he said. "The teaching standards and enrollment rates are expected to rise, following the recruitment."
The move comes as part of the government’s priority to promote technical and vocational education to create skilled manpower for the current job markets at home and abroad, Dr Omar Faruque said.
Experts believe that the initiative to promote job-oriented education will have a positive impact on overseas employment of Bangladeshi workers and inflow of remittance as there is high demand for skilled workers abroad.
Earlier, the Public Administration Ministry had approved a proposal for the creation of 13,072 posts. Later, the Finance Division agreed to create 12,607 posts in the revenue sector. The Finance Division has also fixed the pay scale for the posts.
Expressing concern over the rising illicit trade in Bangladesh in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic,economists have exhorted the government to take adequate steps to tackle the menace.
Global crime syndicates, according to the economists, are taking advantage of ineffective regulatory frameworks, supply shortages, changing consumer preferences and price gaps in certain sectors to expand their "illicit footprint".
As the pandemic continues to wipe out jobs, illicit trade will continue to prosper. With less money to spend, more people will look for cheaper and illegal goods. So, better law enforcement is the need of the hour, the economists say.
According to them, governments and businesses across the globe would lose billions in revenue due to this increasing illicit trade, which will eventually put human lives in danger.
In fact, as per World Economic Forum (WEF) estimates, over US$2.2 trillion, or 3 percent of the global GDP (gross domestic product), will be lost to illicit trade in 2020.
Industries already impacted by this illegal trade globally include pharmaceuticals, tobacco, alcoholic drinks, PPE kits, sanitisers, luxury goods, and beauty and personal care products. Other flows of illicit trade have also been boosted, such as human trafficking and the illicit drugs trade.
Since the beginning of the pandemic in January 2020, sources say, sales of online counterfeit goods have jumped nearly 40 percent in comparison to 2019 in the US.
Talking to UNB, executive director of Policy Research Institute (PRI), Dr Ahsan H Mansur, said that unscrupulous people would always look for such a chance. “Illicit trade has gone up during the pandemic period. So, sources of corruption must be eliminated to stop illicit trade at all levels. Otherwise it will never stop"
The noted economist said many people have already amassed huge wealth, taking advantage of the situation. "Money laundering will further increase if the source of corruption is not eliminated,” he added.
Rising joblessness, Mansur said, could also give rise to human trafficking.
Dr Khondaker Golam Moazzem, the Research Director of Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), echoed similar sentiments.
“We can’t say that illicit trade has spread across all sectors during the pandemic. So, the government, especially the commerce ministry and the central bank, should strictly increase its monitoring system,” he said.
“Unscrupulous people will try to make counterfeit products more to attract poor customers because the income of general people have reduced during the pandemic period. So customers will try to purchase products at a lower price overlooking quality,” the economist added.
When contacted, Sarwoer Alam, executive magistrate of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), told UNB, “We are continuing our drives against such unscrupulous elements. We seized a huge consignment of counterfeit cosmetics several days ago. Our detectives are very active."
He also urged jobseekers to be "very careful" while dealing with people or agencies promising employment.
Rapid urbanisation and industrialisation are taking place in Jashore's Chaugachha upazila — but, all at the expense of fertile farming lands.
For the estimated 3.5 lakh residents of the Chaugachha, it's now a test of their resilience as they are confronted with a choice — to sell their land or continue farming.
While many have embraced the development, with urbanisation and industrialisation providing them with better living conditions and civic infrastructure like roads as well as jobs, thanks to new factories, others claim it comes at a heavy price — the farm lands.
Chaugachha, which has 11 wards, one municipality and 160 villages, is bounded by Maheshpur, Kotchandpur and Kaliganj upazilas in the north, Jashore Sadar and Kaliganj upazilas in the east, Sarsha and Jhikargachha upazilas and eastern Indian state of West Bengal in the south and Maheshpur in the west.
According to the latest census of 2011, the total population of the upazila is a little over 2.31 lakh. However, unofficial estimates suggest that the population has now swelled to around 3.5 lakh, a whopping 1 lakh increase in almost a decade.
But with the increase in population, there has been a decrease in farm land. This is despite the government making it clear that crop land can't be destroyed for urbanisation and industrialisation.
According to the Upazila Agriculture and Statistics Office, the total land area in the upazila is 26,919 hectares. But Chaugachha's net crop land has reduced to nearly 600 hectares over the past 10 years — from 23,150 hectares in 2010 to 22,565 hectares in 2020.
New houses, factories are increasing by the day along the five main roads of the upazila — Chaugachha-Jashore, Jhikargachha, Kotchandpur, Maheshpur and Purapara roads. Some 20 brickfields now occupy crop lands in the upazila, say locals.
Many people have also questioned the rationale of 20 brick kilns in the upazila, pointing fingers at authorities for letting the businessmen set up shops without adhering to rules.
However, when contacted, Rais Uddin, upazila agriculture officer, said the upazila's environment is very suitable for setting up businesses. "But at the same time, I agree that no one should destroy cropland for building establishments," he said.
Bangladesh is "outraged" to witness another "blatant demonstration of falsehood and fabrication of facts" by Myanmar in the ongoing UN General Assembly (UNGA) and shared the situation on the ground before the international community.
"Bangladesh strongly rejects baseless accusations and falsification and misrepresentation of facts that Myanmar made in the UNGA," a senior official in Dhaka told UNB conveying what Bangladesh exactly responded to Myanmar's propaganda.
Bangladesh, through the UN, has urged the Myanmar government to abandon its policy of lies and propaganda and demonstrate genuine political will to take back their own nationals with safety, security and dignity, said the official.
Myanmar at the UNGA claimed that Bangladesh is harbouring terrorists in Cox's Bazar Rohingya camps but it rejected such "baseless" allegations.
Bangladesh, under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, maintains a zero-tolerance policy to terrorism, terrorists financing and other drivers of terrorism, said another official.
"We don't allow our territory to be used by any terrorist. Myanmar needs to look at its own mirror," the official said, mentioning that this is what Bangladesh's reply to Myanmar during the general debate at the UNGA.
Bangladesh also pointed out "concocted and misleading" statement of Myanmar on the development in Rakhine State,particularly in the repatriation process.
Not A Bilateral Issue
Myanmar's Minister Kyaw Tint Swe, in his speech at the UNGA, on Tuesday said bilateral cooperation is the only way to effectively resolve the repatriation issue between Bangladesh and Myanmar.
Bangladesh strongly disagreed on such a notion reminding Myanmar that the Rohingya issue is not a bilateral one but it is Myanmar's internal problem.
Bangladesh highlighted Myanmar's track record of inhumane treatment of ethnic minorities, including Rohingyas, saying it is nothing new for Myanmar.
Bangladesh said it is Myanmar's State policy of deliberate exclusion and persecution on their own people that instigated insurgency and turned Myanmar into the breeding ground of organized crimes.
Bangladesh took the floor to reply Myanmar's "propaganda" and said a deadly conflict is going on in Rakhine State ignoring the UN call for ceasefire simply to implement Myanmar's "genocidal campaign" against its own people, said the official.
Bangladesh provided temporary shelter to over 1.1 million forcibly displaced Myanmar Nationals.
More than three years have elapsed but regrettably, not a single Rohingya could be repatriated.
"The problem was created by Myanmar and its solution must be found in Myanmar. I request the international community to play a more effective role for a solution to the crisis," said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in her 75th UNGA speech.
During the general debate, Bangladesh mentioned that the conditions in Rakhine State are so bad that not a single Rohingya wanted to return to Myanmar voluntarily.
Bangladesh called upon Myanmar to open up Rakhine to international organisations, UN and media to observe the situation on the ground.
Officials said Myanmar's "unsubstantiated claims and undue accusations" against Bangladesh are part of their efforts to avoid their obligations for Rohingya repatriation.
Bangladesh made it clear in the general debate that Myanmar has no intention to implement the repatriation deal signed with Bangladesh.
What About 350 Rohingyas?
The Myanmar side acknowledged at the UN that bilateral repatriation had not yet started but claimed that more than 350 Rohingyas from camps in Cox’s Bazar district had returned to Myanmar’s Rakhine State.
Bangladesh raised questions over Myanmar's such claim and wanted to know the whereabouts of those returnees.
"Who are those 350 people? Where are they now? Are they living at their homes in safety and security?" Bangladesh wanted to know from Myanmar if they returned to Myanmar at all.
Visible Action Sought
Bangladesh has sought genuine efforts from the Myanmar government and take back their nationals.
"Myanmar should take visible action not just seeking the attention of the international community," said an official.
Bangladesh conveyed the UN that Myanmar must address the real causes and it is not Bangladesh's responsibility to keep bearing Myanmar's burden again and again. “Myanmar needs to have genuine intent and political will to address the problem," said the official.
Bangladesh conveyed it to the UN during general debate that Rohingyas do not want to return to Myanmar because they do not trust the Myanmar government.
Two repatriation attempts were failed in November 2018 and August 2019.
Bangladesh highlighted the accountability issue and referred to the recent developments at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
Bangladesh also mentioned that the whole world watched the horrors and brutality by the Myanmar security forces on Rohingyas.
"We opened the border and saved lives. We acted in good faith," an official quoted a Bangladesh diplomat as saying in the general debate.
Myanmar said they share the concern over allegations of human rights violations in Rakhine and take them seriously.
Aung San Suu Kyi, the State Counsellor of Myanmar told a public hearing at the ICJ in December 2019 that if war crimes or human rights violations were committed, they will be investigated and prosecuted by Myanmar’s criminal justice system.
But there has been no serious efforts by Myanmar on that particular front, the Bangladesh side said.
Bangladesh said still Rohingyas are coming to Bangladesh amid violence in Rakhine State and Myanmar keeps distorting facts to justify its genocidal acts.
Holding perpetrators of the atrocities committed against the Rohingya people in Rakhine state to account would contribute to giving the Rohingyas the confidence to return home, diplomats stationed in Dhaka said.
Bangladesh and Myanmar signed the repatriation deal on November 23, 2017.
On January 16, 2018, Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a document on “Physical Arrangement”, which was supposed to facilitate the return of Rohingyas to their homeland.
For Imran Hossain, April-May is usually a time of hard labour and celebration. But 2020 is a year of distress for this young flower grower as well as several other flower cultivators of Jashore's Godkhali.
It was actually a double whammy for flower cultivators — first their businesses were hit by Covid-19 lockdown and then Cyclone Amphan flattened their produce, and with it all their hopes.
An estimate suggests that flower cultivators and traders in the region have counted losses to the tune of Tk 300 crore in the past five months.
"I spent over Tk 10 lakh in cultivating Gerbera on 2.5 bighas of land and China R ose on two bighas last year. But I could not sell my produce due to the lockdown restrictions. Then Amphan destroyed all my produce. I have no money to start my business afresh," says Imran.
Although he has been in the floriculture business for over five years now, Imran says that "the amount of loss I suffered this season is unimaginable".
According to Bangladesh Flower Society sources, hundreds of flower growers from Panisara visit the Gadkhali market every day. Small and big wholesalers from different parts of the country also buy flowers from there. But this year, the lockdown and the cyclone took the fragrance out of the flowers.
"Many flower cultivators in this region are in a similar situation. Many of us have been forced to destroy our produce due to closure of mandis and low demand for the flowers. Only government support can now help us recover from this deep financial crisis," he asserts.
According to sources, flowers worth Tk 300 crore are produced in this region every year. But this year, Gadkhali has come to a standstill, leaving many flower farmers devastated. To overcome the crisis, many farmers have taken to farming paddy and other crops on their land.
Sajeda Begum, who took to the family business in 2004 after her husband Imamul Hossain fell ill, says the lockdown and the cyclone have left her family devastated. "It's now a question of survival," she adds.
President of Bangladesh Flower Society Abdur Rahim says that 80 per cent of the country's demand for flowers is met from Jashore.
"Due to Covid, farmers could not sell flowers in the past five months and this year, flowers worth Tk 450 crore have been wasted across the country. Of this, only Jashore region has suffered a loss of Tk 300 crore," he claims. "Flower cultivators and traders in the region are in dire straits."
"There are about 10,000 flower growers in the Jashore region in this crisis. Agricultural incentives of Tk 500 crore are needed to make up for the irreparable damage caused to the sector by coronavirus and Amphan," Rahim says.
When contacted, Deputy Commissioner Tamizul Islam Khan said, "The government has taken various initiatives to ensure that no farmer quits the sector due to losses. The list of victims has already been prepared and sent to the ministry concerned."