Bangladesh learning a lot from China in poverty alleviation: Dipu Moni

Education minister Dipu Moni addresses a webinar as the chief guest

Education minister Dipu Moni on Wednesday said Bangladesh has been learning a lot from its biggest development partner, China, in poverty alleviation.

“Both Bangladesh and China are among the most populous countries in the world and poverty alleviation is very important for both states,” she said while addressing a webinar as the chief guest.

At the same time, Dipu Moni said, other countries are learning from Bangladesh a lot on how it has progressed tremendously under the leadership of prime minister Sheikh Hasina.

Referring to the deep-rooted ties between the two nations, the minister said people normally talk about the 46 years of diplomatic relationship between Bangladesh and China. “But, I believe, the friendship between the two countries goes at least 2,000 years back.

She appreciated Chinese outstanding contribution towards Bangladesh’s socio-economic and education sectors, and urged the Asian giant to strengthen it in the days to come.

Underlining the observations of some speakers, Dipu Moni said that for creating more skilled and time-befitting human resources Bangladesh is putting emphasis on technical and vocational education and training.

The webinar titled ‘Poverty Eradication: Experiences from Bangladesh and China’ was held on the occasion of declaration of a 25-member and two-year-long executive committee of the Association of Bangladesh-China Alumni (ABCA).

The education minister welcomed the newly-announced executive committee of the ABCA with ambassador Munshi Faiz Ahmad as president of the association and professor Shahabul Haque as general secretary.

Chinese ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming appreciated the strong leadership of Sheikh Hasina for rapid alleviation of poverty from the country and excellent development and credited China for the development of Bangladesh mentioning that China is now the “top destination” for Bangladeshi students in higher education abroad.

Currently nearly 12,000 Bangladeshi students are studying in China.

Jiming said many Bangladeshi professionals in different arenas including health, education and engineering have achieved their higher degrees from China and are now contributing a significant role in their home country.

He urged Bangladesh to adopt some well-designed plans with specific measures for poverty alleviation within a specific timeframe as did China above four decades ago.

Meanwhile, the keynote speaker at the webinar, Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, chairman of Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF), Bangladesh, said the poverty level of both Bangladesh and China was almost the same in the 1970s.

“But China is now a poverty-free country. Long-term and well-thought-out plans as well as hard labour of the Chinese people and its leaders have contributed to making this miracle possible.”

The renowned economist, however, noted that there are some basic differences between Bangladesh and China in terms of geographical and other factors.

“Bangladesh is a low-lying country with 54 rivers crossing through the country that have originated in the Himalayan mountains and downing from the upstream India and as a result the country frequently suffers from floods and other natural disasters including cyclones.”

Addressing Bangladesh as a “highly climate vulnerable” country, he added that flood, cyclone, river erosions, salinity and other natural disasters have a very adverse impact on Bangladesh.

On the other hand, divisive politics also create bars on the way to take integrated measures and national consensus to eradicate poverty, he noted.

He advised the government to properly categorise the poor people like ultra-poor, urban poor and vulnerable poor and rehabilitated them properly with livelihoods and shelters.

In sharing the Chinese model of eradicating poverty, professor Li Xiaoyun at China Agricultural University (CAU) and honorary Dean of College of International Development and Global Agriculture said that China has been taking various steps since 1949 to eliminate poverty like “took lands from landlords and distributed it to peasants after the 1950 Agrarian Law”.

About the rapid developmental change in China, he added that from 1949 to 1978, the average life expectancy increased from 35 years old to 68 years old in the country.

“From 1949 to 1978, the illiteracy rate decreased from 80 per cent to 18.5 per cent,” he said while presenting his power-point presentation at the webinar.

Bangladesh’s state minister for planning, Shamsul Alam, urged the ABCA to play a role like a bridge to bolster bilateral relations between Bangladesh and China.

Appreciating Chinese continuous support to Bangladesh in its development, he added that the 8th five-year plan of the Bangladesh government has been designed with priority to alleviate poverty.

The webinar was addressed, among others, by Zhuang Lifeng, founder president of Overseas Chinese Association in Bangladesh, Binayak Sen, director general of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS); Chai Xi, former Chinese ambassador in Bangladesh and professor Mohammad Mainul Islam, vice president of ABCA.