Prime Minister Sheik Hasina of Bangladesh was in Tokyo on 29th May 2019 for a bilateral visit in Japan to increase cooperation in all fields including economic, political and technology.

Prime Minister Hasina recalled the assistance provided by Japan since Bangladesh's independence and expressed her deep shock and condolences at the Japanese citizens killed in the terror attack at the Holey Artisan eatery in Dhaka in 2016.

Japan is the biggest single bilateral development partner to Bangladesh. Bangladesh has received $11.3 billion from Japan in assistance since 1972.

During the visit both nations have signed a $2.5 billion official development assistance (ODA) following the meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Bangladesh counterpart on 29th May, 2019.

The relationship between Bangladesh and Japan will be strengthened further on its 50th anniversary in 2022.

Japan's aid agency JICA has reportedly said that Bangladesh has shown 'noticable' increase in its GDP growth, said JICA's chief Shinichi. The JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) will strengthen the educational programme with Bangladesh and are willing to work on the human resource development in Bangladesh.

The prime minister urged the JICA president to establish a training centre to develop skilled human resources in Bangladesh. Much as Japan has done, Bangladesh is also transforming into an industry-based economy from an agrarian one, said Hasina.

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman chose Japan as the model for the country's development, she said. "Asia has developed, developing and underdeveloped countries in it. It will dominate the world if we all work together," said the prime minister.

Meanwhile much has been achieved by Bangladesh. Bangladesh has topped the South Asian countries in gender equality for the second consecutive year. It ranked 72nd among 144 countries in the Global Gender Gap Report 2016 published by the World Economic Forum (WEF) on 28th May.

In last year's index, Bangladesh was 64th among 145 countries, leaving behind all the other countries in the South Asian region. It was 68th among 142 nations in 2014.

The new report placed India at 87th position while Sri Lanka at 100th, Nepal at 110th, the In last year's index, Bangladesh was 64th among 145 countries, leaving behind all the other countries in the South Asian region. It was 68th among 142 nations in 2014.

The new report placed India at 87th position while Sri Lanka at 100th, Nepal at 110th, the Maldives at 115th, Bhutan at 121th and Pakistan at 143th position.

Bangladesh also topped the list of countries in the world for number of years with a female head of state (for the last 50 years). "Female head of state" is used to describe an elected female head of state or head of government. The country is followed by India, Ireland, Iceland, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Norway, Finland, Liberia and the UK.

Bangladesh again holds the first position jointly with several other countries when it comes to enrolment in primary and secondary education, shows the report by the Geneva-based WEF.

Bangladesh is also the South Asian region's top performer, recording progress this year on the political empowerment gender gap but recorded a widening of the gap on women's labour force participation and estimated earned income.

It is followed by India, which reports progress this year on closing the gender gap with regard to wage equality and across all indicators of the educational attainment sub-index, fully closing its primary and secondary education enrolment gender gaps.

With an average remaining gender gap of 33 percent, the South Asia region is the second-lowest scoring region on this year's Global Gender Gap Index, ahead of the Middle East and North Africa and behind the Sub-Saharan Africa region.

No country in the region has fully closed its educational attainment gender gap, and only one country, Sri Lanka, has fully closed its health and survival gender gap. However, the region is also home to Nepal, one of the top five climbers over the past decade on the overall index and on educational attainment, says the report.

As per the report, Bangladesh has been positioned in the lower-middle income group. The report also shows that Bangladesh ranked 135th in Economic Participation and Opportunity index. It was 107 in 2006.

Bangladesh's global rank in literacy rate is 110, health and life expectancy 103, women in parliament 74, women in ministerial position 124 and wage equality 122.

Through the Global Gender Gap Report, the World Economic Forum quantifies the magnitude of gender disparities and tracks their progress over time, with a specific focus on the relative gaps between women and men across four key areas: health, education, economy and politics.

More than a decade of data has revealed that progress is still too slow for realising the full potential of one half of humanity within our lifetimes, the report observed.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina put emphasis on 3rd June modern technology-based education to build hunger- and poverty-free prosperous Bangladesh. "We've set our goal to make the country prosperous. To make that happen, I always think it's only education that can lead the country towards prosperity," she said.

Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina said an educated human force is needed to make the country free from poverty and hunger. "That's why we always give importance to education. This education must be modern and technology-based one," she said.

Prime Minister Hasina stressed building a nation which will be modern and equipped with technological knowledge. "An educated nation can take the country to its desired place."

Soon after the country's independence, she said, the Bangabandhu government had given top priority to education as well as made primary education compulsory and nationalised a large of number of primary schools.

The Prime Minister mentioned that her party has formulated the education policy in consultation with experts and holding seminars, symposiums and discussion meetings with all the stakeholders.

Besides, she said, steps have been taken to distribute free textbooks, provide the students with stipends and introduce school feeding programme. Multimedia classrooms have also been set up at their schools and colleges, Hasina added.

She the country's independence was achieved in exchange of blood of three million martyrs. "Bangabandhu liberated Bangladesh with a goal of establishing a hunger- and poverty-free country...his dream will be materialised when we'll be able to establish Sonar Bangla."

It is reported that JICA President Shinichi Kitaoka made the statement of achievements of Bangladesh during his courtesy meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on 30 May in Tokyo. Finally a MOU was signed between two agencies of Bangladesh and Japan on energy cooperation.

Barrister Harun ur Rashid, Former Bangladesh Ambassador to the UN, Geneva.

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