Every year, universities in Bangladesh produce thousands of graduates, but the main question is whether they are grads simply with certificates, or graduates who are good people.
The processes of learning, adjusting and assimilation of fundamental ethical principles and civic ideals are known as building character (this encompasses a range of things such as civic duty, accountability, diligence, discipline, resiliency, transparency and judgment among other factors).
It is the widespread cultivation of social ideologies and personality traits that eventually leads to inclusive and sustainable growth.
Even though educational institutions are primarily responsible for the nation's character development, family, peer groups, society and the media all significantly contribute to building one's character.
An educational system serves two purposes: first, it provides aspirants with knowledge in a particular area through effective pedagogical techniques and a reading culture; second, it instils ethical principles that ingrain established values that help students gain more awareness of themselves as well as their surroundings.
Even though all education systems in the world function primarily by taking the former approach, how effectively a nation's educational system functions overall is determined by how well it does in the latter. Knowledge without morals is a tool for oppression and exploitation.
A dearth of concentration on the character development of students in schools and colleges creates symbolic literate people, who not only fail to contribute to progress but often prove to be a national liability.
An enlightened education system fosters social behaviours that benefit everyone. It develops students' personalities, gives them the cognitive, cultural, social and physical abilities they need for a rewarding profession, and prepares them to handle life's complex dynamics.
Unfortunately, on both counts, our educational system lags far behind.
The current education system in place is essentially incompatible with the dynamics and expectations of the time. The national education system, founded on colonial legacies, antiquated curricula, fabricated historical narratives, and elite-centric approaches, cannot give students the cutting-edge intellectual foundation needed in the modern world.
It is evident from the fact that, despite the world's potential advances in quantum mechanics, artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality and the Internet of Things (IoT), we are still constrained by traditional ideas of Newtonian physics and internet connectivity problems. Our educational system encourages a herd mentality based on exaggerated historical records, fanciful theories, and traditional lifestyles. And it is complicated by colonial history and myopic rhetoric.
Most Bangladeshi educational institutions view character development as being just marginally relevant. Even though some educational institutions teach ethics, the lessons are more theoretical than practical. Civic indifference, incapacity, tardiness, and shattered kinship are testaments to learning deficiencies.
Furthermore, education without character is a top contributor to the troubling tendencies of intolerance, racism, xenophobia, blind adherence to political, ethnic, and religious groups, political engineering, widespread corruption, sectarianism and terrorism.
If it were the other way around, national stakeholders and leaders with high educational backgrounds would not have guided the nation to this pitiful point. Learning about the character is paramount in the country's ongoing moral conundrum.
Our old educational system will not be able to meet the demands and challenges of the modern world – a sad fact, but we must not lose our perspective. The national curriculum, pedagogical processes, and literary civilization should all be modified in a directive to impart morals and character-building principles, resulting in a more sound society.
At this point, the government and educational institutions must determine if they want educated individuals with knowledge and passion for their country, or certified corrupted sycophants who act on selfish agendas at any cost and progressively degrade the nation at the same time.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of The Business Standard.