Q&A with Mr. Sufi Faruq, Pramukh, Gurukul, on how they are transforming Bangladeshi education to achieve its demographic dividend

Q. Tell us about Gurukul – what does it do and why is it different?

A. The traditional technical education system has seen limited success in most developing countries, including Bangladesh, when one takes into account the number of participants. Much of that education is non-productive in nature and is not related to practical fields. Our youth receives the degree but are not job-ready.

That creates a gap in our country realizing its demographic dividend. This is the gap that Gurukul, a registered technical education institution set up by local and non-resident entrepreneurs, is trying to address. We are working to create a generation of educated, skilled, active, cultured, humanitarian and well-formed thinkers, and not just to help students acquire degrees.

Incidentally, we also have had amongst the best placement records so far!

In simplest terms, Gurukul focuses on imparting skill development to Bangladeshi youth in order to make them job-ready by the age of 20 or 21. Apart from skill training and developing teacher quality, we also advise the youth about opportunities in vocational and technical education.

Picture1At the Gurukul campus in Kushtia

Q. How do you break-up the focus areas of Gurukul in terms of what you are imparting to students?

A. So we put 30% of our efforts to deliver academic education as per the syllabus, 20% of our efforts to help each student to acquire self-learning capabilities, and 50% of our efforts for creating human qualities and skills. That is how we would break up our focus areas.

In terms of academic departments, we have courses in engineering, medicine, marketing, entrepreneurship, graphics, music, video photography, and much more. Our courses range from 3-month to 4-year duration, across our campuses in Kushtia, Dhaka and Rajbari.

Picture1Cleanliness-drive at the Medical section, Gurukul campus

Q. Tell us a bit more about your focus to achieve the demographic dividend in Bangladesh’s context?

A. See, the Bangladeshi economy will require a continuous supply of productive and skilled workforce in order to sustain and expand the industries and contribute to overall economic growth. This is a prime requirement for the reduction of poverty, and the hope of a better future for our people. We have a lot of young people. That is good in terms of population demography. But they need the tools if they have to succeed and realize that dividend. Our focus is to arm them with those tools to succeed.

We want to develop a more productive workforce for Bangladesh, who are not only skilled but are also cultured, possess humane qualities and have a well-formed way of thinking.

We provide them with the opportunities to grow, to know their limitations, and to find their strengths!

At the end, we have to recognize the world is going through major economic shifts in this era of globalization. This means new challenges for our younger generation. Our curriculum focuses on those areas which would help prepare the students for these challenges and emerge as productive and enlightened professionals.

Picture1With members of Youth Bangla Cultural Forum

Q. You say your approach is different. Please could you elaborate a bit more on that?

A. As I said, Gurukul is relentlessly working to create a generation of educated, skilled, active, cultured, humanitarian and well-formed thinkers. It is different from the others because we do not only help the students to acquire academic degrees. Rather the focus is distributed amongst the academic syllabus, self-learning capabilities, and human qualities and skills. Our students also participate in various non-academic activities like debate, music, dance, drama, science projects, scouting and so on.

These help develop other facets of their personality and eventually develops them as individuals!

The teachers are trained to support the students and help them obtain commendable achievements in tournaments throughout the country.  The entire campus is drug-free and the institution carries out regular anti-drug awareness campaigns to keep these social evils at bay. Our students are encouraged to celebrate the national days. The students are always in uniforms and well-groomed, with the teachers monitoring their overall wellbeing. The cultural activities also help form a close bond between the teachers and students, leading to a healthy atmosphere in the campus.

Gurukul hosts different religious events in its campus to give the students a feel of a harmonious society; this helps our students to grow as a tolerant human beings and protects them from extremism and radicalization.

Picture1At the Gurukul campus in Kushtia

Q. What is Gurukul’s broader vision for the Bangladeshi education sector?

A. At Gurukul, we intend to improve the overall quality and the image of the private technical education institutions, and to strengthen this segment of the education sector. Gurukul also seeks to foster collaboration between other private institutions throughout the country and to improve the sector together. This will not just help them to form better standards of the institutions, but also improve their relevance in the employment market. Gurukul thereby acts as a facilitator between the members of the Bangladeshi Technical Education Board, the private sector, the government and its development partners.

An aspiration is to be known as a specimen institution in the country – a case-study in itself!

Our students are also given knowledge about the main pillars of Bangladesh’s Constitution. Gurukul believes if the young people are given proper knowledge of the basics about their country and Constitution, then they will perform better as citizens.

Picture1Organising a seminar on Countering Radicalisation and Extremism: Role of students and teachers

Q. Lastly, tell us about your placements?

A. Gurukul has had amongst the best placement records so far. It established collaboration with various organizations that regularly employ our students. We also employ our own students as teachers or in other roles. Finally, it can be said that Gurukul is a one of a kind technical institution in Bangladesh, and is working hard to make a difference in this sector and to the future of our youth!

Read more about Gurukul here

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