Education and National Development: Selected Essays from the Harvard Conferences in 2008, 2009

Edited by Syed Saad Andaleeb, Halimur R. Khan and Manzoor Ahmed

University Press Limited, Dhaka, 2011

This book presents a select set of articles that address key concerns in the education sector in Bangladesh. The chapters were chosen from papers presented at two conferences, “Bangladesh in the 21st Century” and “Ideas and Innovations for the Development of Bangladesh: The Next Decade,” held at Harvard University on June 13-14, 2008 and October 9-19, 2009, organized by BDI (Bangladesh Development Initiative), DDBF (Democracy and Development in Bangladesh Forum), and The Ash Institute for Democratic Governance & Innovation, John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

The book begins with a broad overview of the current education scene—from primary to tertiary education—and the wide range of issues they confront. The need to cultivate a culture of research in the higher education institutions (HEIs) that is contextually important and relevant is emphasized next. Two specific aspects of women’s (and, girls’) education in Bangladesh suggest, in the next chapter, the importance of educating women. The high drop-out rates from secondary schools, especially for girls, is also examined, concluding that in addition to financial and cultural reasons, a key factor causing dropout is the lack of curricular relevance to the lives and activities of girls. The need to modernize science education and make it more meaningful as a subject; the role of madrassah education that has grown phenomenally; and how gender stereotypes about choosing college education and hence career options ought to be addressed to bring about greater equity for women in the labor market are also thoughtfully addressed. The final chapter of the book summarizes the panel discussion that took place in the education plenary in October 2009 and suggests various strategies that the education sector ought to adopt to meet the needs of a 21stcentury workforce.

Dr. Syed Saad Andaleeb has a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA. Currently he is Distinguished Professor and Program Chair of Marketing at the Sam & Irene Black School of Business, Penn State Erie, USA. He is also the editor of the Journal of Bangladesh Studies and President of Bangladesh Development Initiative ( He was the recipient of the prestigious Senior Fulbright Fellowship. Twice as a Fulbright Senior Specialist, he has also been working with BRAC University’s Institute of Educational Development to advance its research capacity.

Dr. Halimur R. Khan, a Harvard University graduate, is an Associate Professor of Russian. He teaches and conducts research on Russian language, literature, Russian area studies, as well as educational and national leadership.  Khan also consults on international education policy. Currently, he is a core faculty member and the Director of Research at the Strategic Languages Division at the US Air Force Academy under the Defense Department of the United States.

Dr. Manzoor Ahmed has done his post-doctoral work at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He is the Founder-Director of, and presently Senior Adviser at, Institute of Educational Development, BRAC University, Bangladesh. He has served as Adviser/Consultant to UNICEF, Bangladesh Ministry of Education, Canadian International Development Agency, UK Department of Foreign and International Development, Swiss Development Corporation, Bangladesh Campaign for Popular Education, etc. He has also been the convener, Education Watch Bangladesh, 2003-2006.