ICT for Improved

Learning & Education

Using ICT-led innovation to make education more enjoyable, accessible and available for anyone-anywhere-anytime, while enabling teachers to share and co-create content.

MULTIMEDIA CLASSROOM

Enhancing student-teacher interaction to co-create better learning materials and a more enjoyable environment in the classroom through the use of technology.

Stories: Multimedia Classroom

A buzz can be heard from a classroom, with 60 students organized in 10 groups as Mr. Abdus Salam is constantly in motion and moving around in the classroom…

8 Million +

Students

200,000 +

Teachers

90% Schools

in Online Dashboard

38,331+

Multimedia Classrooms

Need for creative solutions to make learning enjoyable

Rubi knew exactly which seat on the bench farthest back in the classroom to take in order to avoid her 6 th grade science teacher Salam’s attention. At the same time, Salam knew that he could cold-call Rubi any time and expect her to offer nothing in response but silence and maybe an embarrassed smile. It was a pity since Rubi was really interested in science and dreamt of one day becoming an astronaut like her hero, Neil Armstrong. However, she simply could not follow what Salam said while writing countless definitions on the blackboard and yearned for a way to understand the concepts by somehow visualizing how they manifested in real life.

This, unfortunately, was the situation in thousands of classrooms throughout Bangladesh with millions of Rubis all with the potential of becoming the next human on the moon (or even the first person to land on Mars!) withering away due to the insipid and largely one-directional, lecture-oriented way of teaching.

Continue Reading

a2i’s Multimedia Classrooms and 3-pronged intervention strategy

It would be unfair to attribute the status quo to the teachers alone. Salam, for example, tries his best to explain concepts using examples and even draws images on the blackboard whenever possible. However, in big classrooms with 50+ children such efforts by a single teacher fail to engage pupils. They are also let down by the predominantly black and white textbooks with few pictures or illustrations.

In response to these critical teaching-learning challenges, a2i adopted a 3-pronged approach by:

Establishing Multimedia Classrooms (MMCs) in secondary and primary schools
Building the capacity of teachers to create teacher-led ICT aided educational content on hard-to-grasp topics
Creating a peer-training platform to develop more teachers able to produce quality digital learning materials.

Scaling up the Multimedia Classrooms and crowd sourcing quality digital teaching materials

Since establishing full-fledged computer labs in schools was prohibitively expensive, Multimedia Classrooms consisting of just one laptop with internet connectivity and a multimedia projector were piloted in 7 schools. The MMCs allowed teachers to present complex ideas through audio-visual contents available online which enabled students to take greater interest and grasp ideas that they previously found difficult to understand. Given the overwhelmingly positive response from students and teachers alike, the concept was fine-tuned and scaled up. There are now over 23,331 multimedia classrooms in secondary schools, an additional 15,000+ at the primary level with more in the pipeline.

Some teachers even learned to develop their own customized digital learning contents. a2i helped them develop their capacity further and created a Teachers’ Portal so that they could train other teachers to do the same. The idea was to crowdsource quality digital educational content while establishing a peer-training platform that made the whole MMC ecosystem independent of curriculum and multimedia experts who could potentially become bottlenecks in an otherwise agile and effective pedagogy.

TEACHER'S PORTAL

Develop an online social space implemented by government and contributed by teachers where teachers upload, share, extract and comment on multimedia content, blogs and ideas.

Story: Teacher’s Portal

Shimul Rani Das, an assistant teacher of Oshkhali Aliya Model Primary School, woke up on a Friday morning and opened Teacher’s Portal…

3 Best

Teachers/Weeks

184,000 +

Teachers

108,000 +

Contents

18 Million+

Pageviews - 2016

Factors leading to Digital and Education Divide among Teachers

Masuma Akter, an assistant teacher at a primary school in the remote sub-district of Hatia in Noakhali district, was trying her best to use her knowledge gathered from primary training institute (the institutions training primary school teachers) and make her lessons as interesting and knowledgeable as possible. But she lacked a teacher colleague who could mentor her in the process.

In Bangladesh, the 900,000 plus teachers at more than 120,000 schools and colleges receive formal training at education pedagogy along with pre- and post-training resources. But given the expensiveness of the traditional face-to-face training method, the education administration and teachers do not have an option for refresher training. Again, there is no single platform where teachers can share resources and opinions for further professional development during and after training programs. As a result of these factors, a digital and education divide has been widening between teachers, especially the urban teachers and the rural teachers where the latter is regarded as more disconnected and therefore more disadvantaged.

Continue Reading

Teachers’ Portal as an Enabler in Peer-to-Peer Learning for Teachers

With the objective of devising a modern supplementary tool to traditional teacher training methods that is more far-reaching and time-efficient and able to make greater use of peer-to-peer learning and collaboration opportunities, a2i has designed and developed an online social platform for school and college teachers called the Teachers’ Portal (www.teachers.gov.bd). This portal allows the teachers registered here to do the following:

1. Voice out opinions, suggestions, and concerns regarding education pedagogy, use of ICT in education delivery, and issues related to education delivery system

2. Share multimedia content linked to particular chapters of textbooks used in schools and colleges and related to education delivery

3. Get national recognition based on quality of uploaded content

4. Generate ideas and solve problems of other teachers regarding the use of ICT in education delivery system

The government-approved, peer-to-peer and collaborative learning environment of the Teachers’ Portal allows teachers from schools and colleges living anywhere in Bangladesh equal opportunity to use the portal to converse with other teachers, share content, and search for relevant education content using an intelligent content management system.

Collaboration and contribution of teachers in content creation

Teachers like Masuma Akter can now develop more interesting and engaging lectures using relevant content from Bangladesh’s largest state-owned online educational content repository. To ensure the portal’s sustainability, the government has adopted different strategies like tagging teacher evaluation with content creation to encourage teachers to continuously develop rich and relevant content, directly engaging important government agencies in different roles, and bringing on board different NGOs and INGOs.

As of Jan 2017, more than 184,000 teachers from all over Bangladesh have registered in the portal and can access more than 108,000 content developed by other registered teachers. The target is to bring 350,000 teachers by 2018 and 900,000 teachers by 2021 under this portal in line with the Perspective Plan of Bangladesh (2010-2021).

MULTIMEDIA TALKING BOOKS

Ensuring access to every single visually impaired people in the nation to education contents and reading materials through the adoption of an international standard technology.

Stories: Daisy Multimedia Talking Book.

Visually impaired Vashkar Bhattachajee couldn’t read or write. He grew up learning books mostly narrated by his parents. He always had to depend on others to read for him since he couldn’t see or read himself.

A ray of light in the dark

“I have been teaching in this special school for visually impaired children at primary level for last 15 years, but never have I seen the kids so happy. When they hear this regular MP3 player play, they can actually feel the books coming to life. This happened in late 2015, when our school received these multimedia players containing multimedia talking books that could read out the text written in the curriculum book. Parents are thankful since they no longer have to spent hours reading the text to their children. Previously, we could give the students only second-hand braille printed books to study from. But, this time we received brand new books for all the children. Now, I know for sure that my students can compete with any able kid. My husband is a teacher at a secondary level school and he was saying that a similar kind of product will soon be coming to his school” said Asma Khatun, a teacher at the physically handicapped training center.

Continue Reading

An unseen problem

There are 2.5 lakhs visually challenged people in this country among which a large number of sight impaired students are now studying at various educational institutions. It’s very difficult for them to have access to information and attain advanced education since there are no suitable study materials for them in Bangladesh besides braille books.

However, the contribution of the braille books is incomparable but students depending completely on braille might face pronunciation problems as well. Moreover, it is very important to present the study materials to students in an attractive way that will not make learning monotonous and with visually impaired children the task gets more difficult.

Ensuring inclusive education

Service Innovation Fund of Access to Information (A2I) Programme has facilitated a project by Young Power in Social Action (YPSA) named ‘Multimedia Talking Book’ specially designed for visually impaired students. Any students with access to computers, tablets or android mobiles can use these books for acquiring knowledge. Visually challenged students can learn their lessons listening to it. Previously, it was difficult to provide the braille books at the beginning of the year but now National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB) partnered with a2i ensuring the revised multimedia talking books and braille books along with other textbooks within 1st January every year in the hands of visually challenged children. The partnership with NCTB and Department of Social Services in the Ministry of Social Welfare have enriched the initiative and taking Bangladesh one step ahead in attaining the sustainable development goal-4 which focuses on inclusive and equitable quality education for all. At the moment, Multimedia Talking Books can also be used in the regular schools to ensure inclusive education and can be developed into interactive e-book as well.

Awards and Recognition

Young Power in Social Action (YPSA) has won several national and international recognition for developing DAISY standard Multimedia Talking Book. In 2013, it received Manthan Award South Asia in E-Inclusion category.In the same year it was awarded the ‘Youth Solutions! Technology for Skills and Employment’ honor by World Bank and Microsoft Sri Lanka. It went on achieving Accessible Books Consortium Award for Accessible Publishing Initiative at the International Excellence Award 2015 held in London Book Fair (LBF).

MUKTOPAATH

Facilitate coordination and capacity development of institutional content developers and develop a national e-learning platform MuktoPaath to promote anywhere-anytime learning by anyone using validated content and relevant performance appraisal.

Stories: MuktoPaath: e-learning for Skills Development

Sufia, a women in her early thirties, decided to break the socio-economic shackles binding women like her and opted for an overseas employment opportunity…

Demand-side Challenges to Skills Development

Ms. Fatima Begum, age 24, was desperately looking to start a new business of poultry farming, but lacked the necessary skills and knowledge. She came to know from a local journalist that the Department of Youth Development (DYD) conducts business development training on different traits targeted to the unemployed youth. But, upon searching, she could not find any establishment in her locality where she could go and get trained. Again, her family does not approve of her going to a different district to receive institutional training, let alone for a month or so. DYD knows that a significant percentage of its clients are faced with similar kinds of constraints, but with its limited infrastructure and human resources, it cannot fulfill the ever increasing demand for wider area coverage and more diverse & modern traits.

Continue Reading

Supply-side Challenges to Skills Development

The 27 directorates under 23 ministries in the government when providing training from their facilities are faced with the same problems that DYD faces. Again, there is no working mechanism for sharing resources among the directorates which complicates things further. The capacity development practices worldwide have shifted to greater sophistication like more robust use of e- and m-learning tools. But, in Bangladesh, there is still dependence on the traditional face-to-face training method which is comparatively costlier and makes refresher training near to impossible. Even if there is strong intent within the bureaucracy to identify latent demand for skills, the practical obstacles like scarcity of human resources make it difficult.

e-Learning as the enabler for skills development

a2i has successfully leveraged its position within the Prime Minister’s Office and its partnerships with important stakeholders, like the Cabinet Division and the Ministry of Public Administration, in creating a national e-learning platform where primarily e-learning content for all possible training programs within the government can be uploaded by the training service providers, and can be viewed and exercised upon by anyone-anywhere-anytime. To ensure a continuous supply of validated e-learning content, a2i has undertaken a two-pronged strategy of coordination and capacity development. On the one hand, all the relevant stakeholders are being brought under one umbrella and a unified spirit of e-learning content creation is being transferred among them. On the other hand, capitalizing on the experience of teacher-led content development for Teachers’ Portal, a2i is facilitating the capacity development of the government offices on e-learning content development.

MuktoPaath impacting people’s livelihoods

Now, not only upcoming entrepreneurs like Fatima, but also civil servants, private sector enterprises and any individual can get access to e-learning content for government provided training programs either free or at a reasonable cost, and can receive honors upon successful completion of the courses. This innovative learning method can make meaningful contributions to attaining SDGs goal no 4 (Quality Education) and 8 (Decent Jobs and Economic growth) and eventually earning a middle income status in the world arena.

Skills

for Employment

Leveraging the “demographic dividend” by empowering youth through meaningful skills most demanded by the market.

SKILLS DEVELOPMENT THROUGH APPRENTICESHIP

Leveraging the “demographic dividend” by empowering youth through meaningful skills most demanded by the market.

Lighting up Houses

Liton Sarker found out the harsh reality of life one summer when suddenly he stopped going to school. Liton went about trying to earn something when most of his friends spent their time running around and playing.

6,000+

Apprentices

40+

Apprentice able Trades

60+

Upazilas Apprentice able Trades

1,670

Formal and Informal Industries

Empowering citizens’, particularly the underserved

Bangladesh has a total population of 159 million (BBS, 2015) and labor force of 79 million (World Bank, 2014). According to ILO, Labor force is growing at a rate of 2.2%, which means every year, 1.8 million new labor forces are coming into the labor market. Every year only 1.2 million youths are being trained by government operated skills development training agencies. The rest of the forces fall in NEET (Not in Education, Employment and Training). Education and training centres failed to provide skilled workers according to the demand of the local industries and international job markets. Presently there is a huge communication and coordination gap exists between employers and skills development agencies. To remove this gap dual apprenticeship enters into the scene.

Continue Reading

The apprenticeship approach involves using both private and public stakeholders to develop balanced training programmes. Employers equip apprentices with on-the-job practical skills and training institutions equip apprentices with more theoretical off-the-job training. In apprenticeship, the company is the main learning environment where manual skills, work processes and procedures as well as behavior patterns and attitudes are developed under real work conditions. The training institution, whether it is private or public, is the second learning environment, where apprentices acquire competencies that are most effectively taught out of the workplace.

In 2016, only 15,000 unemployed youths trained through Apprenticeship programme by different formal and informal industries which is only 0.83% of total labour force. To increase this negligible share and to uplift the image of Apprenticeship Programme in Bangladesh, the Access to Information (a2i) Programme is playing significant contribution to expand rapidly. a2i Programme, in partnership with ILO, has been completed a six month long pilot apprenticeship programme in 30 Upazilas of the country. Partnership has been established with a total number of 600 informal workplaces to ensure on-the-job training and decent employment. In this apprenticeship programme, 1200 unemployed youths trained in 36 markets driven trades and employed in decent jobs. These youths trained under the supervision of 600 Master Craft Persons’s (MPCs) /Ostaad’s who possess expertise on various occupational trades such as Electrical House Wiring, Welding, Glass and Mirror Fitting, Masonry Works, Carpentry, Wood Carving, Lacquer Polisher, Mobile Phone Servicing, Motor Cycle Servicing, Painting, Plumbing, Tailoring and Dress Making, Tiles, Steel Furniture Making etc. Since it was a successful pilot programme, a2i currently planning to scale up the programme in 50 Upazilas considering decent employment generation for 2,600 unemployed youths.

a2i has organized Social Media Sanglap on ‘Decent Employment through Apprenticeship’ at Prime Minister’s Office involving Secretaries of relevant Ministries, Director Generals of relevant Departments/Directorates and industry leaders. a2i has taken initiatives to start apprenticeship programme in the top industries of the country. Already UK Cabinet Office based organization Behavioral Insight Team (BIT), collaborating with a2i, has been engaged to create awareness and provide motivation on incentives provided by government and benefits for the industries having apprenticeship programme on board.

SKILLS DEVELOPMENT THROUGH STIPEND

Providing income generating skills for the higher secondary poor students alongside of stipend.

In Bangladesh, the dropout rate in higher secondary education is more than 30 percent, which is significantly higher than the dropout rate in the secondary education level. Female dropout is comparatively higher than male counterparts. The main reason for this dropout is poverty and poverty related factors. Many practical remedial measures have been taken to attract all the students, including female ones to continue their education and be the part of skilled manpower. To keep this objective or goal alive and in action, Higher Secondary Stipend Project (HSSP) under Ministry of Education stranded functioning, providing a stipend at the higher secondary and higher education level. Remedial measures have been taken so that the deprived students do not dropout of higher secondary education due to financial insolvency. Under this project, the government gives stipend and other financial facilities to 40% of female students and 10% of male students admitted in HSC level. So that the poor students have got the opportunity to continue their education.

Continue Reading

the Study shows that many higher secondary students drop out before and after completing HSC and they become unemployed due to lack of vocational skills and entrepreneurship training. According to the policy makers and experts, besides taking part in general education, a student can take a market oriented short term vocational and technical training with soft and hard skills inbuilt in the training programme. This programme will decrease the dropout rate since students can earn in his student life through self-employment or part time job after completion of the training. Even in the long run the stipend can be provided based on successful completion of vocational training.

The Access to Information (a2i) Programme of Prime Minister’s Office in collaboration with higher Secondary Stipend Project (HSSP) of the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education (DSHE) has taken an initiative to integrate skills development programme with the stipend of higher secondary students as the pilot. The objectives of this initiative are:

1. To provide entrepreneurial skills development for the higher secondary students alongside stipend;
2. To create earning scopes for the higher secondary students alongside their education;
3. To increase the enrollment of female students in higher secondary education;
4. To reduce drop out in higher secondary education;

The piloting of the programme has been completed in 10 Upazillas of the country. The Upazillas are Khaliajuri of Netrokona, Ishwardi of Pabna, Kamarkhand of Sirajganj, Tetulia of Panchagarh, Sadar of Lalmonirhat, Swarupkathi of Pirojpur, Kalapara of Patuakhali, Morelganj of Bagerhat and Batiaghata of Khulna District. A total number of 200 disadvantageous pro-poor students are getting self-employment and income generating skills. The significant trades are: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning, Electronics, Embroidery and Nokshi Kantha, Beautification, Motor Mechanic, Graphics Design and Multimedia, Tour Guide, Photography, Sweet Making, Mobile Servicing, Block Boutique and Screen Printing etc. After successful completion of the training, students are earning money by starting their own business or doing part time job alongside of their education and contributing to their family. Since the pilot programme was a successful one, now the Government is planning to expand the programme in all Upazillas of the country.

SKILLS FOR EMPLOYMENT PROGRAMME ON RMG

Fulfilling the demands of the largest export earner of the country through training local youths to craft the future of the industry,

One of the greatest steps towards realizing vision 2021 is a2i’s skills development programme for youth and ensuring decent jobs for them. One of the initiatives is based on Bangladesh’s thriving and vibrant Readymade Garments (RMG) sector. a2i, with the support of Skills for Employment Investment Programme (SEIP) of the Finance Division and Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), has started two two-month skills development programme. Each has 20 people per batch. This training is for creating mid-level managers. The other one is on operating a knitting or woven machine. SEIP is providing technical support for them.

For the first programme, anyone, with a bachelor’s certificate, between 20-35 years, is eligible for this training. The participants should also possess good communication & leadership skills. For the other one, participants need to be between 17 and 35 years and must have had schooling up to 8th grade. This particular project is designed for those on the brink of poverty.

Continue Reading

Before delving into why we need such programmes a glimpse of Bangladesh is necessary where those below 30 years make up 60% of the total labor force. Most of these youth are in a perpetual crunch for money. It is either that they do not have enough to get through school or they are not earning enough to get by with their family because they don’t have the necessary skills. Given the rising population, jobs are also becoming increasingly scarce and all the more so for those without a good skill set.

These projects have been initiated keeping that in mind. The target group of the projects includes people from ethnic minorities of the plains. In each batch, 60% participants come from those minorities. After just two months of training, people find jobs as guaranteed by the BGMEA. The figures are great too as the starting salary is Tk 25,000 in the first case and in the second scenario, minimum salary is Tk 8,000 per month. So, they will gain much after only two months of training.

One batch — 20 participants — has successfully completed the training and joined decent jobs in garment factories. As for the second case a2i’s result has been positive as well, as there has been four batches that completed the training and a five is underway with 30 participants in each. 120 people have secured a paying job.

To sum it up, people are now able to get a job and pay their bills. Not only do the new job holders benefit from this, but so do the employers who get properly trained employees.

true