THE need to set up and run effectively more and more centres for technical education or skill-oriented education is being increasingly felt. Thus, Finance and Planning Minister M. Saifur Rahman, underlined the significance of building up human resources to face the challenges of the 21st century at a college function in Sylhet last Friday. The minister's statement seems to be somewhat backed up by actions taken by the government recently. The number of polytechnics has increased and the establishment of more such skill training institutions are being planned. Science and technology-oriented universities and other centres of higher education that are capable of creating human resources are also at the planning stages. All such steps do create a hope that the government of the day is aware of its very great responsibility to give a spur to the sort of education and training-based programmes which can contribute to the country's economic growth.
The relationship between availability of human resources and their application in various economic activities should be obvious to policy planners. But the questions that remain to be answered are: to what extent are facilities being created to turn a far greater number of the youth into true human resources? What steps are being taken to retain the human resources created in the country? For, it should be obvious that the number of polytechnics, science and technology universities and other institutions for such learning and development of know-how, in the actual implementation phase or at the planning stage, is few compared to the need. Thus, the 'quantity' factor is important here because the government is expected to mobilise and utilise far greater resources than it so far has done to notably increase the pool of able persons in the country in the economic sense. Not one polytechnic in one district ; the need is at least several polytechnics in each of them. Not one science and technology institution in one division but several such institutions to be built and well run in every division. Then, specialised educational institutes such as for the training of leather industry workers, fashion designing of garments industries, etc., are in need of proliferation across the country. Private sector may take an interest in the creation and operation of such institutions. However, privately-run such institutions may not be found affordable by many students. Therefore, the need for setting up such institutions in the public sector merits a priority. Publicly-operated institutions of the types, as noted above, should maintain satisfactory standards of instruction and training along with affordable fees that are likely to be accessed by a good number of students.
The government must not hesitate to subsidise its operations in such ventures because it is common also in the developed countries to give public grants in the realm of education. Government's direct participation in economic or business activities is not desirable but it is expected to be the catalyst of such activities prudently using taxpayers money to promote appropriate education to build human resources. The grants provided for the purpose are more than compensated from the acceleration in economic activities leading to higher economic growth with all its accompanying benefits.
It is also time for the government to rein in the freestyle leaving of human resources from the country. Such resources are created at considerable costs to the public exchequer in many cases. Unskilled or semi-skilled ones going out with jobs pose no harm but only good for the country. But the unconscientious permanent departure of highly trained or skilled professionals is another thing. The latter raises questions about their unfilled ranks here and their playing little or no role in the economy through sending of remittances and other actions. The government should, therefore, address such issues with care and enforcement of proper policies.