Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday expressed Bangladesh’s desire to contribute to socio-economic development and technological advancement for the betterment of the world community.
Acknowledging the international community’s “kind support” for his country’s development over the decades, he said, “Despite our limited capacity, we want to contribute to the socio-economic development and technological advancement of the world community.” ”
The Prime Minister was addressing the award ceremony of UNESCO-Bangladesh Bangabandhu International Award “Creative Economy” at the UN headquarters, BSS reported.
“We believe that investing in a creative economy will result in the implementation of the combined goal of socio-economic development and technological advancement,” he said at the event.
The Prime Minister announced the winners and handed over the prizes and certificates to the recipients.
Prime Minister’s younger sister Sheikh Rehana was present on the stage.
Praising the winner, he said, “I congratulate MoTIV Creations Limited (Uganda) for receiving the first International Award for the 2021 UNESCO-Bangladesh Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Creative Economy.
MoTIV has been selected from 69 nominations submitted for the Creative Economics Award and will receive $ 50,000 USD in recognition of its innovative work in promoting young entrepreneurs in the creative economy.
Sheikh Hasina said she believed that the establishment of the UNESCO-Bangladesh Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman International Award for Creative Economy was the most appropriate tribute to Bangabandhu’s contribution to world humanity and peace.
He hopes that this international award will strengthen UNESCO’s (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) efforts in the creative economy, contributing further to its global priorities, namely gender equality and youth priorities as a group.
UNESCO Director General Audrey Azule, who arrived at the headquarters, welcomed Sheikh Hasina with a bouquet of flowers and gave a welcome address.
The Prime Minister said the UNESCO-Bangladesh Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman International Award must create a knowledge-sharing system by capturing, celebrating and communicating the best practices of creative entrepreneur development.
The Prime Minister expressed his sincere gratitude and appreciation to the staff of UNESCO for their support in establishing the award in the name of Father of the Nation of Bangladesh, which coincides with the year of International Creative Economy for Sustainable Development declared by the United Nations.
He added, “Bangladesh is privileged and honored to join UNESCO’s efforts in these areas of our priority.”
Sheikh Hasina expressed her gratitude to UNESCO for including Bangabandhu’s March 7th speech on October 30, 2017 in the Memory of the World Register as an authentic heritage.
The Prime Minister said at the global gathering that due to the visionary leadership and legacy of Bangabandhu, Bangladesh today is very different from the early days of independence.
He further said that this year Bangladesh is celebrating the golden jubilee of its independence which coincides with the ‘Mujib Year’, the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and UNESCO is officially associated with the celebration.
He also saw exhibitions of videos and photographs recorded on the winners’ creative economic activities.
At the beginning of the ceremony, a brief description of the award was given and a video documentary on the award was also shown.
Describing Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as a strong advocate of multilateralism, Sheikh Hasina said she (Bangabandhu) considered the United Nations as “the focal point of the people’s future hopes and aspirations”.
“Bangabandhu had the same sentiments and qualities towards UNESCO as a specialized agency of the United Nations. As her eldest daughter, I have watched her closely and can confidently blame Bangabandhu as a true advocate for UNESCO, ”he added.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s steps to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and to invest in peace are equally central to all areas of UNESCO’s mandate, he opined.
Moreover, it includes its policy decisions and establishment of institutions in the field of education, culture, science and technology and leadership in establishing democracy as the cornerstone of governance in a newly-independent country are directly linked to UNESCO´s core objectives, she said.
Sheikh Hasina mentioned that Bangabandhu was awarded the Julio-Curie Medal for Peace in 1973.
The Prime Minister quoted from Bangabandhu’s speech while receiving the award – “World peace is the principle (objective) of my life. I am with the oppressed, the abused, the exploited, (and) the peace-loving, freedom-loving people, no matter where they are. We need peace in the world. Peace should be sustained. We believe in peaceful co-existence.”
She said that Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman envisioned a ‘Golden Bangladesh’ economically self-reliant and free from hunger, poverty and illiteracy.
As he was moving towards the goal, the defeated and reactionary forces of the Liberation War brutally assassinated him along with 18 of his family members and close relatives, she added.
“It included my dear mother, three brothers with the youngest only 10 years old, and two daughters-in-law. Only my younger sister, Sheikh Rehana and I survived the carnage as we were away abroad at the time. We could not return home for six years and lived abroad as refugees,” she said in an emotion-charged voice.
After coming back home, she said, she devoted her life to fulfilling the vision of her father, the Father of the Nation, of a happy and prosperous “Golden Bangladesh”.
The Prime Minister said, immediately after the independence in 1971, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib made primary education compulsory and free for all. Bangabandhu believed that expenditure on education was the best investment and declared free schooling for girls up to grade eight, she added.
In a war-ravaged newly-independent country with many economic challenges, Bangabandhu nationalized over 36,000 primary schools and their more than one hundred 50 thousand teachers and employees across the country, she said, adding: “This simple example reveals his priority for education and a knowledge-based society.”
Following his footprints, the Prime Minister said, her government has given priority to education.
“We have established a primary school in almost every village. The number of pre-primary and primary schools in the country is now 1 hundred 33 thousand. Of those, 65,566 are government-run schools. Since 2010, free books, now numbering about 400 million copies, have been distributed among students up to secondary level. School lunches have been arranged for 2.9 million students in economically backward areas,” she said.
She added that more than 13.03 million primary students are supported by stipends. Stipend money goes to the mothers or legitimate guardians directly through their mobile phones.
Another 7 million students from secondary to higher education have been brought under various scholarships, she said, adding, “We have established the Prime Minister’s Education Assistance Trust for the management of the stipend and scholarships at secondary and college levels. “
The Prime Minister said they have also introduced Bangabandhu Science and Technology Fellowship for pursuing MS, PhD and postdoctoral studies and researches at renowned universities at home and abroad.
“So far, 580 scholars have been awarded with the fellowships spending about BDT 2 billion,” she informed.
“Moreover, we have established 20 new public technological and general universities in the country since 2009 raising the total number of public universities to 52,” she said.
Besides, as many as 105 private universities are offering higher education in the country and at present technical educational institutions are being opened in all 492 upazilas or sub-districts, she added.
“Enrolment in pre-primary and primary level increased to 99 percent. Female-male school enrolment ratio rose to 53:47 in 2017 from 35:65 in 2009. The increasing female education has significantly lowered the rate of child marriage,” she continued.
The Prime Minister said that the investment in education has started paying dividends as Bangladesh has made impressive progress in socio-economic fronts in the last one decade.
“During the period, per capita income tripled to US$ 2,554 and the poverty rate lowered to 20.3 percent from 31.5 percent.
The infant mortality rate has reduced to 23.67 per 1,000; maternal mortality rate to 173 per 100 thousand live births; and the average longevity of people rose to 73 years. Bangladesh also graduated as a developing country from LDCs this year,” she said.
Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen, Prime Minister’s Private Industry and Investment Adviser Salman Fazlur Rahman and Prime Minister’s Principal Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus, among others, were present.