Published:  01:11 AM, 29 June 2020

Quality education and sustainable development: An analysis

Education can bring the elementary shift in the values, actions, and responsibilities of an individual. Of course, the sustainable future cannot be achieved in months but with well designed policies and framework, it can be moved on to the right path.

Every aspect of development is linked to education, knowledge and its application. Well delivered education promises employment, better earnings, health, and strong economic background. Education is one of the most important ways to attain the goal of sustainable global development.

A strong education system widens the prospects of opportunities, improves health and supports the functional aspect of communities. Sustainable development is feasible if the masses are educated. People need skills to support the idea of a sustainable economy mainly working in the sectors i.e. economic, environmental, and social, and these skills can only be settled in an individual with quality education.

Strategies to attain the goal of quality education:

(1) The process can start with ensuring the enrolment and attendance at the schools.

(2) Significant progress is possible when countries prioritize the concept of 'learning for all'. This progress is just the beginning of a global movement, with every student in every country learning about the basic life skills and approaches for sustainable development from well trained teachers equipped with resources and well designed curriculum.

(3) To help resolve the awful crises of education in the developing countries, concrete and strict policies should be recommended by the policymakers. Every stakeholder (Government, teachers, parents, and even students) in the education sector needs to work towards the implementation of these policies. Also, the performance of those policies needs to be assessed and monitored timely.

(4) The educational framework for action needs to be introduced strictly and to review functions to catalyze and monitor progress.

(5) There is an urgent need of educational reforms and persistence as well.

(6) With a well designed set of commitments and targets coupled with effective education programs can instil the importance of achieving the equitable, high quality education for all.

Operational views of good quality education: Quality education facilitates the acquisition of knowledge, skills and attitudes that have outstanding value and also helps address important human goals.

Evidence is now clear-cut on the links between good education and a wide range of economic and social development benefits. Better school outcomes as reflected in student grades/scores are related to higher income in later life. Empirical work has also demonstrated that high quality schooling improves national economic potential.

Basic cognitive skills are separately important in determining earnings, apart from the effect of schooling attained. It is also well established that the distribution of personal incomes in society is strongly related to the amount of education people have had. In general terms, more schooling means higher lifetime incomes.

Quality education is also perceived to have an impact on a country's economic growth. The relationship between measured labour force quality and economic growth is said to exert an even stronger influence than the impact of human capital and school quality on individual productivity and incomes.

Economic growth determines how much improvement can occur in the overall standard of living of a society. More specifically, a more educated society may translate into higher rates of innovation, higher overall productivity through firms' ability to introduce new and better production methods, and faster introduction of new technologies.

Significance of Sustainable Development: In 2005, the World Summit on Social Development identified the three cores areas of sustainable development, called The Three Pillars of Sustainability.

The pillars are economic development, environmental development, and social development, also informally known as profit, planet, and people. These three cores vary in basis, but, are similar in collective goal and place each other into consideration. Sustainability is a concept that has been acknowledged by all countries around the world.

Modern technological innovations follow strong guidelines that suit sustainability because of economic benefits, social, and environmental benefits for a whole society. In the past, sustainability had been directed on purely environmental concerns that needed to be acknowledged and accounted for.

Now, with the involvement of social, economic and environmental interests, it is easier to view sustainability in the grander scheme of stabilizing our planet as a whole. The economic pillar has the most innovative potential to combine sustainable practices, technology, and money-making tools. Technology is advancing society more rapidly than ever, while many other parts of the world are unable to adapt to the momentum of change.

Sustainable development is a long-term solution to how we plan our indefinite progress in the future without causing damage to the environment so as to guarantee a safe habitat for the next generations, who will continue to develop their economies, societies, and care for the environment with a similar ideal in mind. It satisfies our needs without sabotaging the opportunities of others.

The concept covers a broad scope of matters such as environmental, social, and economic development which continues to prove its importance in our lives as it affects all aspects of them. Sustainable development is "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs" -World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987.

Owing to our rapidly growing population, in the future more resources will be needed in order to accommodate for it. Having highlighted the importance of sustainable development, it is also important to understand that it does need a lot of concentrated effort and, like many things in life; it does have many challenges ahead of itself. It is also important to note that sustainable development is equally valid in developing and developed countries.

Relationship between quality education and sustainable development: Sustainable development would require a lot of concentrated and coordinated effort. If appropriate supply-side policies, such as education and vocational/ICT based programmes, were to be implemented, illiteracy rates would drop and people would be made more aware about the environment surrounding them which would contribute greatly to a rise in environmental awareness.

Good quality education, an essential tool for achieving a more sustainable world through sustainable development promotes the development of the knowledge, skills, understanding, values and actions required to create a sustainable world, which ensures environmental protection and conservation, promotes social equity and encourages economic sustainability.

It is often said that over 500,000 foreigners are working in Bangladesh mostly in the RMG sector and annually remitting BDT 850 billion. On the other contrary, about 10 million Bangladeshis are working abroad mostly as unskilled or semi-skilled labours due to lacking of quality/job market oriented education.

If our people working abroad had relevant technical qualifications, our inbound remittance could have gone up possibly 10 times by now. Our unskilled labour working in the Middle East earning BDT 15,000 per month and a skilled and job market oriented well educated person from another country working in Bangladesh as an "expert" probably earning BDT 400,000.

According to World Bank, 10% of the World's population makes less than $1.90 in U.S. dollars compared to the 1990 statistic of nearly 36%; however, the 10% still accounts for nearly 736 million people who are living under extreme poverty.

Half the world's population, 3.4 billion, still struggles to meet basic needs. The lower-middle income countries live on less than $3.20 a day and the upper-middle income countries live on less than $5.50 a day.

It is a matter of hope that Bangladesh has already made an outstanding progress in reducing poverty, supported by sustained economic growth. It reduced poverty from 44.2 percent in 1991 to 12.9 percent in 2016/17. In addition, literacy rates, life expectancy and per capita food production have increased significantly.

There are a number of key themes in sustainable development and while the dominant focus is on environmental concerns, it also addresses themes such as poverty alleviation, citizenship, peace, ethics, responsibility in local and global contexts, democracy and governance, justice, human rights, gender equality, corporate responsibility, natural resource management, biological diversity and as a whole, ensuring quality education for all.

Rapid growth enabled Bangladesh to reach World Bank`s 'lower-middle income` country status in 2015 from the 'low income` category. The aim of sustainable development is to enable people to make decisions and carry out actions to improve our quality of life without compromising the planet. It also aims to integrate the values inherent in sustainable development into all aspects and levels of expected learning outcomes.

The writer is a Research Officer, District Education Office (Secondary)

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