Introduction: Education is the process of facilitating knowledge and it is called backbone of any society and in Bangladesh, a developing country, education especially industry-oriented education is more essential to improve its position from inside and outside, nationally and internationally. However, Bangladesh is an agriculture-based country but textile industry emerged here as a blessing which contributing a big portion in GDP and textile education came into view as a crucial need. To produce qualified and updated textile product, textile education is inevitable as every day the textile technology and the methods are changing.
A brief history of textile education in Bangladesh:
Textile education initiated in Bangladesh more than hundred years ago during the British colonial rule by 1911 and it is being developed time to time as the industry demanded it for the sustainable development of the sector. There were 29 satellite type vocational schools in the territory of Bangladesh from 1911 to 1947. In 1921 a weaving school was established in Narinda, Dhaka to meet textile technical education by offering artisan level courses. It was named East Bengal Textile Institute and started offering diploma courses in Textile Technology. Later, it was named East Pakistan Textile Institute in 1950. In 1978, the institute launched the 4 years bachelor degree program in Textile Technology in affiliation with the University of Dhaka and was renamed as College of Textile Technology, which is now turned into first textile university of the country, ‘Bangladesh University of Textiles’. Considering the importance of textile education and research, the government of Bangladesh took initiatives to upgrade the College of Textile Engineering & Technology to a university. For this purpose, “Bangladesh Textile University Act, 2010″ (Act no. 49, 2010) was passed by the Bangladesh National Assembly and the Honorable President gave consent to the act on 5 October 2010.
Establishment of professional training center for textile professionals, the Textile Industry Development Centre (TIDC), under a public sector organization Bangladesh Textile Mills Corporation (BTMC) in 1981 with the technical and financial assistance of UNIDO, is another big attainment in textile education. Now TIDC is known as National Institute of Textile Engineering and Research (NITER) which is a public-private partnership institute. By this time, the Department of Textiles (DOT) that came into being in 1977 took fresh initiative for reintroducing vocational and diploma education. It was sometime around 1986 when the national NGOs have started imparting textile vocational education and training, and private university education in Textile & RMG begun from 1998. Now there are almost 8 public Textile Engineering Universities and Colleges and more than 20 private Textile Engineering Universities and Colleges in the country that are offering various courses related to textile, and there are many institutes that provides Diploma and Vocational course in Textile.
Textile education: a crucial need for Bangladesh
There are mainly three kinds of education group in our society such as Social Education, Spiritual Education and Vocational Education. The Textile Education comes under the branch of Vocational Education, which concentrates on both academic and practical skills that involve the textile industry. There are great benefits to achieve from an industry-focused learning like textile education, on the other hand, Bangladesh is earning its biggest part of foreign currency from textiles and textile education is related and interwoven with that. Therefore, textile education is very important for our country.
For national development: According to Alam (2007), human capital theory has powerful influence on the analysis of labor market. Alam notes that investment in education and training produces benefit both to the individual and to society as a whole. So the return on investment for textile education will be a skilled workforce that will enable global competitiveness and economic growth, while the return of the individual will be a better career path, increased earning and a better quality of life. Hence, textile education is crucial for rapid economic growth, and essential if we wish to increase the productivity of our workforce by providing people with the skills they need to anticipate fully in the economy and in society (Fagerlind & Saha, 1989). All countries, especially developing countries, need technical education like this.
For steady economic growth: Economy of Bangladesh is growing well and to keep up this trend stable and focused investments and efforts in different segments of textile education is very important. To make the government dream true to increase annual export to US$50 billion dollar by 2021, become a middle-income country by 2021 and a developed one by 2041, the quality and quantity expansion of textile education is must. Already textile education is playing an important role to enhance our economic growth.
For providing skilled manpower: The demand of skilled manpower is growing fast since the technology for the Textile and RMG sector is changing rapidly and importance of productivity improvement becoming more significant. In many cases technology-based knowledge is not growing as it should be and most of the worker is uneducated. Our garment sector employs some 20,000 foreign nationals in various positions and the sector alone spends 5 billion dollars to hire skilled people from overseas to work. For the industry, we need trained and educated manpower to replace the foreign experts. Textile education through different colleges, universities, diploma and vocational institutions as well as training centers is helping to provide skilled manpower for the textile industry.
To reduce unemployment problem: Bangladesh, like other developing countries, suffers from unemployment problem. Unemployment rate in Bangladesh was approximately 47 percent in 2015, according to a report of Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and day by day, the problem is increasing. To reduce this problem, textile education like textile engineering, diploma and vocational courses for students and different training for professionals and workers can play a major role as there is a great demand of it.
To promote textile industry: Bangladesh RMG is now the second largest export earner in the world and it has been possible for our cheap labor. But cheap labor is not enough for growing this industry and making it sustainable. To increase productivity of our workforces is very essential, as the productivity of our workforces is not so satisfactory. The productivity of our workforce is 77%, which is lower than our major competitors Vietnam, India and Pakistan. With proper education and training our textile sector can easily increase its productivity and decrease its cost. And qualitative textile education and training can provide these skills and concepts to the workforces who can lead the sector to the next stage.
Siddique, Arifur Rahman (2012). Structure of Textile Education in Bangladesh. March 2012, Bangladesh Textile Today.
Alam, G.M. (2003).The Role of Technical and Vocational Education in the National Development of Bangladesh. Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Fagerlind, I., & Saha, L.J. (1989). Education and national development: A comparative perspective. Oxford, UK: Pergamon.