Laying special emphasis on the necessity of development of science and modern technology, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday urged the Muslim Ummah to invest more in the field of science and technology education for their children to bring back the lost heritage.
“We need to invest more for the study of our children,” she said while addressing the 35th Convocation of the Islamic University of Technology (IUT) on its campus in Gazipur as the chief guest.
Mentioning that Muslims have the possession of a significant amount of wealth, Sheikh Hasina said, “We have to use this resource to develop science and modern technology to bring back our lost heritage. I believe that we can do it.”
“Whenever I visit to any OIC member country, I make this request,” she added.
The prime minister said that at the golden age of the Islam, contribution of Muslim scholars in the fields of world civilisation, science, history, literature, philosophy, chemistry, mathematics, medicine, astronomy, geography, and in many other branches of knowledge has built a glorious history of heritage.
Muslim Scholars of that era dominated the world in culture, knowledge acquisition, scientific discoveries, and contemporary literature, she said.
“We need to analyse the reasons behind this lagging behind of the vibrant dominance of the Muslim Ummah,” she added.
The prime minister noted that internal conflict, lack of mutual respect and harmony between the Muslim countries, lack in knowledge and science and many other issues have factored in the collective fall of the Muslim Ummah.
“To regain this lost glory, I think we the Muslim Ummah will have to work united, forgetting differences,” she said, adding that the Muslim countries will particularly have to invest more in science and the education of its own the students as well as to develop science and modern technology.
In this modern era, a sum total of three Nobel prizes have been awarded to Muslim recipients which is sadly the true reflection of the contribution of the Muslim Ummah in the fields of research and development, she said.
Sheikh Hasina said that “Muslim nations need stronger endeavours in the fields of science and technology so that they can contribute more.”
The Muslim community should not fall behind in tackling the challenges presented by the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) especially in the sectors of Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Internet of Things, Quantum Computing and others, she added.
With secretary general of OIC and chancellor of Islamic University of Technology (IUT) Hissein Brahim Taha in the chair, IUT vice chancellor professor Mohammad Rafiqul Islam delivered welcome address.
Foreign minister AK Abdul Momen and education minister Dipu Moni also spoke at the programme.
Students of academic years 2021 and 2022 have been conferred degree of Bachelor, Masters, PhD and diploma at the convocation.
Two types of gold medals - IUT gold medal and OIC gold medal - have been given to students for their outstanding results.
At the outset, a video documentary on IUT was screened at the function.
The prime minister also inaugurated the newly built female hall of IUT, which was also financed by the prime minister.
The IUT is an educational and research institution in Bangladesh, run and funded by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
The main objective of IUT is to contribute in developing the human resources of the member states of the OIC, particularly in the fields of engineering, technology and technical education.
IUT receives direct endowment from OIC member countries and offers scholarships to its students in the form of free tuition, boarding, lodging and medicare.
The prime minister said Bangladesh has been in constant support of all agendas and activities of OIC.
“We’re the proud host of IUT, a subsidiary organ of OIC and we’ve been rendering any and all sorts of assistance for the smooth functioning of IUT,” she said, adding that “I want to assure that we vow to keep on supporting IUT in future as well.”
Sheikh Hasina hoped that today’s graduates will continue to grow their skills by working closely with technologists, innovators and scientific communities around the world in the days to come.
Talking about the development of the country, the prime minister said that they are going to unveil a new fiscal budget on 1 June and it will be a size of over Tk 7 trillion (700,000 crore).
The existing progress has been made possible as a stable democratic environment is prevailing in the country, she said, adding that Awami League won the 2008 election and formed the government, resulting a stable democratic environment prevails in Bangladesh today.
Sheikh Hasina said, “Many storms have come, there is no doubt. Many obstacles have been tried to be created. Still, I would say that when the country is stable, when there is continuity of economic development in the country, the country can prosper.”
“And that requires a specific plan. Each of our plans is targeted, time bound,” she continued.
Highlighting a comparison of the development activities between the incumbent AL government and the then BNP government, the prime minister said the budget was only of Tk 610 billion (61,000 crore) in 2006 during BNP regime while the fiscal budget, given by the AL government, has increased to Tk 6 trillion (600,000 crore in the last financial year).
She said that their efforts have culminated in reducing the poverty rate of 41.5 per cent in 2006 (BNP era) to 18.6 per cent in 2022 while the extreme poverty rate from 25.9 per cent to 6.7 per cent in the same timeframe. “InshAllah, there will be no extreme poor in the country.” She added that the size of the GDP in 2006 (BNP era) was only US$ 60 billion, whereas at present it has elevated to US$ 465 billion.
Meanwhile, the per capita income of US$ 543 in 2006 has increased to US$ 2,824 in 2022 during the regime of present AL government, she continued.
She went on saying that the average life expectancy of the population has increased to 73 years from 57 year (BNP era), and in the past 14 and a half years, the infant mortality rate has decreased to 21 per 1000, and the pregnancy-related mortality has reduced to 123 per 100,000.
The head of the government also said that her government wants to build a knowledge-based Smart Bangladesh. “In this Smart Bangladesh, there will be a smart government, a smart economy, a smart population, a smart society, and a smart manpower.”
She said that they will teach the country’s population to be proficient in using digital technology so that they can adeptly contribute to the fourth industrial revolution.