Empowering Youth for Smart Bangladesh


Published on February 24, 2024
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Bangladesh has recently undertaken a bold endeavour to construct a more intelligent nation, capitalising on the capabilities of digital technology in the process. The government’s dedication to converting the nation into a technologically advanced force is praiseworthy, with efforts focused on updating infrastructure, improving governance and promoting economic expansion. Nevertheless, while we navigate this trajectory towards a digital future, we must give utmost importance to the inclusion and empowerment of our young generation, who are the driving force behind Bangladesh’s advancement.

The government’s emphasis on constructing a technologically advanced Bangladesh is not just a catchphrase, but a crucial necessity for long-term progress in the 21st century. Given the substantial proportion of our population consisting of young individuals, it is crucial to fully use their capabilities and include them in our overall plan. Engaging youth entails more than merely guaranteeing their presence; it involves actively including them in the process of formulating policy, devising solutions and fostering creativity.

Digital literacy and education are essential components in building a Smart Bangladesh. As we move towards an economy that relies on knowledge, it is essential to provide our young people with the digital skills they need. An all-encompassing strategy is necessary, starting with schools and extending to vocational training programmes and higher education institutions. Through the allocation of resources towards digital education, we can equip our young generation with the necessary skills and knowledge to take advantage of the various prospects available in the digital economy, such as software development, data analytics and digital marketing.

Furthermore, it is imperative to address the existing disparity in access to digital resources within our society. Urban places often possess superior digital infrastructure and opportunity, but rural towns frequently fall behind. The government has the responsibility to provide fair and equal availability of digital resources, such as internet access, training facilities and support networks, especially in regions that lack adequate services. The Digital Bangladesh initiative has made substantial progress in this area, but further focused interventions are needed to reach excluded youth.

Aside from education and infrastructure, it is important to cultivate an environment that promotes innovation and entrepreneurship. Bangladesh is abundant with highly skilled and ambitious young individuals who are keen to establish their presence in the digital realm. Nevertheless, the objectives of these individuals are often hindered by bureaucratic red-tapism, restricted financing opportunities and a dearth of mentorship. The government should provide an atmosphere conducive to promoting the assumption of risks, acknowledging and incentivising originality and assisting emerging entrepreneurs through the establishment of incubators, accelerators and legislation that are favourable to start-ups.

Moreover, when we use digital technology, it is imperative to confront the obstacles to digital security and privacy. Given the widespread use of online platforms and digital transactions, it is crucial to prioritise the protection of personal data and the maintenance of cybersecurity. Implementing youth awareness programmes about cyber hygiene and good digital citizenship is crucial to reducing dangers and fostering trust in digital platforms. Furthermore, the government must establish comprehensive laws and regulatory systems to safeguard the privacy rights of individuals and to ensure that those who misuse digital technology are held responsible.

Improving vocational education infrastructure is essential for Bangladesh’s technical progress and economic prosperity. It offers practical skills that match market demands, guaranteeing a consistent flow of skilled people for crucial sectors. Government investment in infrastructure, in conjunction with collaborations between educational institutions and enterprises, equips young individuals for achievement in the digital economy. Engaging young people in vocational education provides them with valuable skills for the job market and fosters a sense of responsibility towards the advancement of the nation. Youth with expertise contribute to innovation, productivity and economic growth, supporting the government’s goal of a wealthy, technologically sophisticated Bangladesh.

Social inclusion and empowerment are essential for developing a Smart Bangladesh, alongside economic and technical progress. Emphasising the involvement of disadvantaged groups such as women, those with disabilities, and ethnic minorities in the digital economy promotes social cohesion and unleashes unexplored opportunities for advancement and economic growth. Moreover, allocating resources to digital healthcare and education may greatly enhance public health and human development. Telemedicine and e-learning help overcome geographical obstacles, particularly in rural regions, helping many people and enhancing our institutions' resilience during crises.

To summarise, constructing a Smart Bangladesh necessitates a collaborative endeavour to enable and include our young population as proactive catalysts for transformation. To fully use the benefits of our demographic dividend and drive Bangladesh towards a successful and sustainable future, we need to invest in education, encourage innovation and entrepreneurship, promote digital inclusion and empower society. To achieve this goal and guarantee inclusivity in the digital revolution, the government, civic society, business sector and foreign partners must establish a strong collaborative effort. As we negotiate the intricacies of the 21st century, let us wholeheartedly use the revolutionary potential of digital technology to construct a Bangladesh that is fair, robust and wealthy for future generations.

Dr. Pranab Kumar Panday: Professor in the Department of Public Administration at the University of Rajshahi