PM calls for not assigning 4IR tools to hurt humanity

 Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today called for making sure that the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) tools are not assigned to hurt or undermine humanity.

“We have to ensure that the 4IR tools are not assigned to hurt or undermine our humanity,” she said.

The premier made this call while responding to a question in a talk at the event “New Economy and Society in Smart Bangladesh” organised by the World Economic Forum (WEF) at its office in Geneva, Switzerland.

Prime Minister’s Speech Writer Md Nazrul Islam told the reporters after the programme that she also laid emphasis on making sure that the 4IR does not create further divides within the society.
“We want to make sure that 4IR doesn’t create further divides within our society. We must build effective public-private partnership at the international level for this purpose,” she added.

In this connection, Sheikh Hasina said that her government has started preparing the youth of the country for the 4IR and the future of work. “I’m confident that our boys and girls will not just follow 4IR trends, but will actually lead it,” she said.

She felt encouraged to see the kind of innovative works of the country’s students are doing in robotics. “We’ve also seen great enthusiasm among them at the Innovation Fairs we have been organising across the country,” she said.

The Prime Minister said that Bangladesh would certainly welcome an independent 4IR Centre in partnership with WEF.

The government is already working on having the right kind of legal, policy and institutional framework for 4IR in Bangladesh, she said, adding, “We’ve developed individual national strategies on artificial intelligence, internet of things, nanotechnology etc.”

To this end, she said, the government is setting up specialised institutes for frontier technologies, nanotechnology and other issues in different parts of the country.

“We’ve also launched Smart Leadership Academy to develop future political leaders for smart governance,” she added.

Bangladesh, therefore, is keen in the UN’s work on developing a Global Digital Compact, said Sheikh Hasina, adding: “We hope that this Global Compact will have clear guidelines for the international community on responsible and productive use of digital and frontier technologies.”

She laid emphasis on putting up safeguards against cyber-attacks, disinformation and other vices.

“We have to collectively put up safeguards against cyber-attacks, disinformation and other vices,” she said.

Talking about Bangladesh’s education system, the Prime Minister said that the COVID-19 pandemic has opened the government’s eyes for the immense possibilities of blended education.

“We’ve availed full advantage of the nationwide digital backbone at the time of the pandemic. We transferred the education system online, with the educational institutions carrying out their work in a more or less uninterrupted manner,” she said.

She said the government has turned Parliament TV Channel into an Education Channel with arrangements for broadcasting daily lecture sessions in order to reach out to students all over the country.

“This could partly compensate for the disruption in regular schooling,” she added.

Sheikh Hasina mentioned that the government has also uploaded all textbooks online and made them available free of cost. It launched an app titled “Muktopathh” to upload teaching contents and model class lectures.

“We arranged to have teachers’ orientation to introduce them to online teaching methods,” she said.

In this connection, she said that the government has advised teachers and administrators to make appropriate changes to their evaluation systems.

“I hope that these initiatives could mitigate learning losses to some extent,” she said.

The premier said the government has now redesigned country’s school curriculum to give emphasis on critical thinking and creativity among the students.

“We’re encouraging them to think and do things on their own instead of storing information by rote. We hope to nurture our future generations with social and analytical skills to prepare them to compete on a global stage,” she said.

She also mentioned that the government is also giving importance to pre-schooling as well as post-graduate research and development.

Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh has made some specific commitments at the UN Secretary General’s Transforming Education Summit held in New York last year.

“Our government will continue to deliver on those forward-looking commitments towards achieving quality, inclusive and transformative education,” she added.

The Prime Minister said that During Bangladesh’s last Presidency of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), it has taken a decision to shift climate vulnerability narrative into one of resilience and prosperity.

In order to achieve this, she said, we shall primarily follow four seminal documents:

Firstly, the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) submitted with UNFCCC with specific, time-bound commitments to reduce green-house gas emissions.

“We’ve made both conditional and unconditional commitments to this effect. We believe that we shall be able to meet the conditional commitments upon receipt of adequate international financing, technologies and capacity building support,” she said.

Secondly, she said that Bangladesh shared with UNFCC its National Adaptation Plan (NAP) last year. “Under the Plan, we hope to scale up our good practices with climate adaptation based on both nature-based and technological solutions.”

Sheikh Hasina said that the government has estimated that Bangladesh shall need US$ 230 billion by 2050 to implement NAP for its long-term climate resilience.

Thirdly, the government has also developed a “Mujib Climate Prosperity Plan (MCPP)” which aims at pursuing a low-carbon economic growth pathway through green transformation in energy, transport, agriculture and other critical sectors, she said, adding, “We’ve aligned MCPP with our Vision-2041 to become a ‘Smart Bangladesh’. We’re pleased that a number of other climate vulnerable countries are also developing their own Climate Prosperity Plans following our template.”

Finally, she said that the government has also taken a long-term perspective and developed the Bangladesh Delta Plan (BDP) 2100 to build a climate-resilient and prosperous delta for our future generations. “This has been our gift to our future generations.”

The Prime Minister said that the government has already started implementing a number of projects under the supervision of a Delta Governing Council with me in the Chair.

“We are currently in discussions with the World Bank and other international financial institutions on some high-impact mega-projects like restoring the five rivers around our capital Dhaka,” she added.

She also said that Bangladesh does need to mobilise large amount of international private sector financing to implement some of these ambitious plans. “I would urge WEF to carry out its advocacy in our favour. I can assure the international private sector through you that investing in Bangladesh will have its desired impact as we’ve proved time and again.”

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