Since the beginning of apparel export from Bangladesh in 1978, the industry has rapidly grown and become the country’s largest export earning sector. Now, the textile and RMG industry is the backbone of the economy of Bangladesh with consistent growth. Despite the pandemic calamity, the industry has witnessed a 30% growth in the year 2021 and it has registered USD 35.57 billion in the year.
Though the industry has achieved a significant gain in the last few decades, many find that it yet does not pose the status it could achieve. Bangladesh is lagging far behind in terms of value addition, resource-efficient production, and good marketing strategies than exporting countries like China and Vietnam. Experts find that there is a scarcity of human resources required to outperform these countries. There is a saying “In Bangladesh, we produce least valuable products with most valuable technologies”. This popular saying demonstrates that the industry is still struggling with a lack of skilled human resources who could make the proper utilization of the expensive machinery we have. As a result, the industry has become highly dependent on foreign professionals.
Now the question is, isn’t the textile education system of Bangladesh capable of developing qualified professionals to serve the industry? Let’s put our eye on the textile education of the country.
The cornerstone of textile education in the Bangladeshi territory was the establishment of the British Weaving School in 1921 in Dhaka’s Narinda under British colonial rule in the subcontinent. Later in 1950, it became East Pakistan Textile Institute which provided a diploma degree. After the liberation, it was upgraded to the College of Textile Engineering and Technology with the Bachelor degree program under the University of Dhaka. Finally, it turned into an autonomous university under the ‘Bangladesh Textile University Act, 2010’ and was renamed Bangladesh University of Textiles (BUTEX) in 2010.
So, it was the story of BUTEX, the university fully designed to serve the textile industry of Bangladesh. With the growth of the industry, the need for professionals also grew over time. To meet the demand, many institutions, colleges, and universities have been established in the country which is working to make qualified professionals for the textile industry of Bangladesh. Institutions like the National Institute of Textile Engineering and Research (NITER), BGMEA University of Fashion & Technology (BUFT), Bangabandhu Textile Engineering College, Rangpur Textile Institute, etc. have been established in the last few decades.
Public universities like Dhaka University of Engineering and Technology (DUET), Khulna University of Engineering and Technology (KUET), Mawlana Bhashani Science and Technology University (MBSTU), Jashore University of Science and Technology (JUST) have also comprised textile engineering department.
Even many private universities like Ahsanullah University of Science and Technology (AUST), Atish Dipankar University of Science and Technology, Bangladesh University of Business and Technology, Daffodil International University, Primeasia University are now teaching textile engineering on their campuses.
So, we can see that the number of institutions for textile education has proliferated in the last few decades with an increasing demand for textile professionals. Thousands of students are graduating from these institutions each year. But still, the industry is struggling for qualified professionals to secure an outperformed and sustainable growth.
This points that something is missing in the textile education system. Compared to the initial stage of the textile education system that was taught at the British Weaving School or East Pakistan Textile Institute, the overall education has evolved significantly in terms of the number of students, types of technologies taught, and the number of institutions. But, the quality of education that can produce industry-required professionals is still somehow tacit in the education system.
There is still hope. Recently we observe that talented students are admitted to the textile institutes as the industry offers good career growth. Also, the new generation of academicians is much more enthusiastic, creative, and research-oriented. Research and innovation are inspired in educational institutions. Platforms like Textile Today Innovation Hub are facilitating cooperation between industry and academia to solve industry problems. Many research projects funded by the University Grant Commission are ongoing in the universities where students and teachers are working together for innovation.
This scenario tells us that the textile education system is on the eve of transformation, from a conventional to an industry-oriented education system. And this system needs adequate numbers of qualified academicians, sufficient research funds, and an intense industry-academia collaboration.