Information Technology Engineers Examination in Bangladesh
Bangladesh has a population of more than 150 million. It is increasing by one percent annually. Based on the statistics of population, Bangladesh is the eighth largest country in the world.
"One of the most important treasures of this country is human resource," Mr. Hideo Hoya, chief advisor of Capacity Building on ITEE Management Project, said. According to Mr. Hoya, the purpose of this project is to have more world-class human resource in the field of IT/ITES (Information Technology Enabled Services). It is just like finding diamond in the rough.
For that purpose, the project is introducing ITEE (information Technology Engineers Examination) in Bangladesh, which was started in Japan. The first ITEE Trial Exam will be held on October 27 in Dhaka.
ITEE was first administered in 1969, and in 1970, it became a national examination in Japan. Around 16 million IT professionals have applied for this exam by 2010 and 1.9 million passed successfully. ITEE has been expanded to six other countries, namely the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Malaysia and Mongolia. These countries administer the ITEE exams on the same day twice a year. In addition, ITEE is mutually recognized as equivalent to their respective national IT skill assessment examination in each of 5 more counties and economies including India, Singapore, Korea, China and Taiwan.
The beginning of this project goes back to the activity started by Mr. Akihiro Shoji and his JOCV (Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers) colleagues. Mr. Shoji was a JOCV for teaching information technology in Barisal until 2010. He is now one of the JICA Experts for the project. Mr. Shoji and his colleagues organized test examination of ITEE for 269 IT professionals/students in Dhaka in 2010. They found that the result of the exam was superior or similar to that of other countries.
They found ITEE would be useful for developing IT industry in Bangladesh and the key of successful introduction would be coordination among academia, IT industry and Bangladesh government. They started to discuss about the introduction of ITEE with not only the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MoICT) but also with Dhaka University, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), and Bangladesh Association of Software Information Services (BASIS) who are the key players in IT sector development in Bangladesh. Simultaneously they were playing their own role individually. They successfully developed and coordinated their activities and idea to convince the authority for taking it as a JICA Technical Cooperation project in 2012.
IT industry of Bangladesh is now expanding. The market size is estimated as 350 million US dollars and it has increased 17% compared to that in 2008. Software and ITES market is about 250 million US dollars, which is 70% of the overall IT Industry in Bangladesh.
According to Mr. Hasim Ahmed, secretary of BASIS, there were only 17 companies as members when they started their association in 1997. "Now we have 658 companies and receive 5 to 10 new applications every month," he said.
Based on BASIS and other data, there are 800 to 1,000 software and ITES companies and more than 30,000 IT engineers now working in Bangladesh. For this developing industry, it is very important to have world class human resources. BASIS has already opened their own training center for the engineers. About 1,000 to 1,500 people participate in those trainings, but the facility and opportunities for training the professionals are not adequate. "Every year we have more than 6,000 new IT graduates, but not all of them are ready to work for the industry. We try to train them by ourselves, but at the same time, we have requested to universities to reflect our needs to their curriculum, " Mr. Hashim added.
The universities also feel the world-wide needs for skilled IT engineers. "Qualified IT engineers can find jobs anywhere in the world. Therefore, objective measurements of their skills are very important for their qualification," said professors Dr. Hasanuzzaman and Dr. Haider Ali of Dhaka University Department of Computer. Prof. Hasanuzzaman is one of the members of exam question making committee of ITPEC (Information Technology Professionals Examination Council). Prof. Haider Ali is one of the master trainers for administrating ITEE.
Both professors highlighted that their students are excellent, but the industry and government should invest more in human resource development. "I feel the necessity of improving IT management in this country. I think more strategic approach to effective usage of IT technology and IT human resources is needed in IT policy level. We also would like to introduce the aspect in the curriculum of the universities," Prof. Hasunuzzaman said.
The first trial exam of ITEE will be held on October 27, 2013 with around a few hundred applicants. Later for the second trial exam in April next year the number of participants and venues will be increased. The first official ITEE exam will be administered in October 2014.
Mr. Hoya, Chief Advisor of the project, pointed out that this project is not only for Bangladesh, but also for Japan, which requires more qualified professionals in its IT sector. Those who will pass the exam may get working visa in Japan much easily than others.
"I hope that ITEE will help to find out more world-class IT professionals in this country," Mr. N.I. Khan, secretary of MoICT, said. "It may be true that the excellent IT engineers go out from Bangladesh for working in the global companies, but I am not afraid of the brain drain. They go out of the country, and get new ideas and knowledge there. If they come back to Bangladesh, they can bring in their skills and knowledge to this country. For that, it is necessary to make Bangladesh such a country where they will want to be back. That is my mission." he said.
Introduction of ITEE can be a cornerstone for this development.
Mr. Hideo Hoya, chief advisor (2nd from the right), Mr. Akihiro Shoji (left) with project team members at Bangladesh Computer Council in Dhaka
Entrance of Bangladesh Computer Council
Mr. Uttam Kumar Paul, Vice-President of BASIS (center)
Professors Dr. Hasanuzzaman (left) and Dr. Haider Ali (right) of Dhaka University Department of Computer
Mr. N.I. Khan, Secretary of MoICT