According to the census report published on Wednesday, the country’s current population is 165,158,616 (16 crore 51 lakh 58 thousand 616).

Ten percent of the total population are in the 15-19 age group, nine per cent are in 20-24 group and 8.71 per cent in 25-29 group. Usually, people who are in the 15-29 age group are considered part of the youth population.

9.28 per cent of the population are in the 60-100 age group.

According to the census report, 27.82 per cent of the country’s population is currently youth. This large youth population will become the architects of Bangladesh’s future.

When asked how the government intends to utilise this vast youth population, state minister for planning Shamsul Alam told Prothom Alo, the government is increasing the budget allocation for the youth, emphasising on education, establishing universities, especially technical universities, in different districts. He hopes that these steps will ensure the quality education of the youth.

However, a research done by the directorate of secondary and higher education’s monitoring and evaluation wing shows that a huge number of students studying in schools are lagging behind in English and math.

The students are especially weak in English. 61 per cent of students studying in 6th standard were found to be weak in English while 43 per cent were weak or average in math.

There are also questions about the standard of higher education in the country. The highest number of undergraduate and graduate students of the country study at colleges under the National University. A survey of the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) showed that 66 per cent or almost two-thirds of the graduates from National University remain unemployed.

BIDS conducted this research from last year’s February to June. 21 per cent of students found a job after obtaining an Honour’s or Master’s education and seven per cent were still pursuing a Master’s degree or are taking some vocational training. Three per cent had become entrepreneurs.

According to BIDS, the ratio of unemployment is higher among the educated population of the country. 47 per cent of the educated population is unemployed.

Every year, two million people are joining the country’s work force. But in comparison, the number of new jobs is insufficient. That’s why a large number of them remain unemployed.

Dhaka University’s Population Science department’s professor Mohammad Moinul Islam told Prothom Alo, it is true that the country’s economy is progressing, but at the same time, the youth are not getting enough employment opportunities, that’s also true.

To avail the demographic dividend, Bangladesh has to ensure that the youth receive quality education. They have to be well trained and at the same time their good health has to be ensured. If the government fails to nurture the youth through quality education and turn them into skilled human resources, then Bangladesh won’t get to avail the demographic dividend.

*This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten for the English edition by Ashfaq-Ul-Alam Niloy

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