Collaboration between industries and educational institutions

| Updated: October 18, 2017 03:26:38

Collaboration between industries and educational institutions
That the overall standard of education including that of the tertiary leaves much to be desired is a unanimous verdict. One of the reasons for the lacking is dissociation of academic curricula from reality or the absence of extensive engagement with practical programmes. The culture of inspiring students to think on their own about academic problems and come up with practical solution to them has not simply developed. 
Original thinking is a kind of habit and imagination or intellect can be fired at a very early age. The chess prodigies are the best example of this. And this early development is gender neutral. Parents Laszio and Klara of the famous Olga sisters -- Judit, Susan and Sofia -- of Hungary put forward a thesis that 'geniuses are made, not born'. Specialised education can make this happen, they believed and was able to prove the point by educating their three daughters at home.
In a classroom situation such educational care is not possible even if a teacher is highly qualified. Given the below average standard of teachers in most of the country's educational institutions, the job of firing imagination of students remains illusive. The few who get over the limitations have either exceptional energy or inspiration from some particular quarters. Unless this situation can be changed gradually in favour of practical workout, academic education will not be able to make the breakthrough expected of it. 
Here the dilemma is over the resource allocation. When Prof. Mohammad A Momen of the International Business Administration (IBA), Dhaka University advocates intensive cooperation and collaboration between industries and institutions of higher education for mutual benefits as well as to the benefit of the country, he touches the right cord. His choice of the subject was particularly significant because of the occasion where he was speaking. It was the occasion of rewarding the successful teams from among 150 in total, which participated in the national financial modelling competition held at the North South University (NSU). 
Clearly, the number of students who have demonstrated originality in thinking or creativity with implication for the humanity from this part of the world is few. After Satyen Sen, two other persons to have done groundbreaking scientific research and experiment are geneticist Maqsudul Alam and physicist Zahid Hasan. Creative geniuses in literary field this land has produced are quite a few. There were some eminent teachers at Dhaka University but apart from Dr GC Dev and Prof Nurul Islam not many made their marks on the world stage. 
In a fast changing world, the skewed emphasis on finance and by extension making more money has indeed shifted the focus from innovation to entrepreneurship. The art of managing finance takes over many of the intellectual exercises. Economic theories and their implementation for social wellbeing have taken a backseat. Instead, the objective is to come up with prescription for businesses to do better and make more profit. 
Well, nothing wrong with it as long as it does not lose sight of the productive base -industrial venture, to be precise. When business or corporate houses expand their empires by importing foreign goods and commodities to the neglect of local products, it does no good to the country. Now that universities are arranging competitions for students to develop models, business or marketing strategy, it opens before original minds an opportunity to prove their talents. Happily, teams from different universities of the countries have to their credit the enviable record of beating their more illustrious counterparts from among others the United States of America, Britain, France, China and India represented by their reputed universities or institutions including Harvard University and Mssachusetts Institute of Technology.  
The number of such world beaters is rising. This points to the fact that there is no dearth of talents. What the country is lacking is the right kind of environment and facilities for on-the-field studies, research and experiments. Even the leading universities here do not have state-of-the-art laboratories. This is the case because of the meagre allocation of fund for the purposes. Sure enough, the government fund is inadequate. It is because of this, private companies and business houses need to come forward in order to extend their patronage for such works. In developed countries, particularly in the USA, it is the private industries that generously pour money into academic research and studies in order to reap benefits from the output. 
True, compared with the giant industries and companies in the USA, their counterparts here are punitive. But still they have the financial muscle to help advance the country's innovation to a new level. When programmes are taken up, it is assumed that the researchers or team of students will emerge successful in their venture. They and their guides are likely to be sanguine enough about the viability of the project. 
The fund crunch and lack of facilities at home have driven many inventive minds to go abroad and prove their talents. Now some business houses and industrialists have come forward to finance some projects involving moderate amounts of funds. Let the habit grow further in order to facilitate bigger and more daunting projects. Also, in such tasks risk has to be taken. Scientific research in particular has been a continuing process. One takes over from where another has left the job unfinished. Thus the wheel of human civilisation moves on, making progress a reality. 

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