YouTube in Bangladesh is in its budding stages in terms of quality, but its potential is easily visible. There are hundreds of channels, and some have over thousands of subscribers and millions of views. You will find videos on food, health and nutrition, and study tips along with the regular music and comedy.
However, there is far more that can be done on YouTube in Bangladesh, and these could be highly beneficial for large groups of people not only because it is accessible but because these could be educational, entertaining, and ultimately helpful.
PUBLIC HEALTH EDUCATION
The importance of public health education is undeniable, especially in a country like Bangladesh where the well-being of the population is far from ideal and resources available to tackle issues are insufficient and spread out unevenly. Bangladesh’s situation looks grim when one looks at the health indicators. From dangerous road conditions, contaminated and adulterated food, natural disasters to infectious diseases, a host of problems plague the country. These are only exacerbated by the immensely dense population, global climate change, and Bangladesh’s low expenditure on public health as a percentage of GDP.
Public health education via a medium such as YouTube may help mitigate many problems, one of the main reasons being its focus on prevention. This is crucial, because not only do cures not exist for many diseases but because everyone does not have access to healthcare. A channel like this might benefit people from all walks of life.
If you have grown up in the 2000s, there is a high chance that you have seen Thakurmar Jhuli on television or YouTube. It is mainly through videos that children get to learn about these Bengali folk stories.
In today’s time, a host of channels exist that discuss books, both old, such as Wisecrack’s “Thug Notes”, “Crash Course Literature”, TED-Ed’s literature videos, and a few School of Life videos, and new, such as the various booktubers on YouTube. These play a vital role in people’s lives, especially children, because they can introduce people to the works of writers who could have an important role in how they develop. However, videos discussing the works of Bengali or Bangladeshi writers are scarce. A brief look at the Ekushey Boi Mela and Dhaka Lit Fest shows that there is no dearth of literary work being published.
Therefore, the primary issue seems to be that many children, adolescents, and even adults do not know about the work being produced. This is where a channel on YouTube could help. Not only would it introduce people to the work of local artists, it could become important in discussing and criticising problematic work, both of established writers and those who are new, that would otherwise remain unexamined.
The first introduction people have to history is in classes, and more often than not, the classes seem uninteresting if not outright mind numbingly boring. This is unfortunate, not only because people develop a dislike for a subject they might have otherwise enjoyed, but because they end up underestimating the importance of history in their lives.
On YouTube, there are channels like Oversimplified and Crash Course History that takes its viewers through periods in history all the while being entertaining and informative. These often serve as an introduction for many people on topics they might have had no idea about. While there is historical fiction, comic books, movies, and even television series based on historical characters and events, there does not seem to be enough videos making use of the medium’s special features. For one, YouTube allows two-way communication, so people can not only ask questions but people with more knowledge can suggest books, podcasts, documentaries, etc. on the topic.
Moreover, the channel does not have to be limited to discussion. It can display archaeological sites and interviews with historians, teachers, and archaeologists who shed light on their work. Not only might this help the young population become more aware of their past and learn about their identity, it might encourage students who may not have had been able to have access to history classes realise that they might want to pursue a career in history. In the future, they could become involved in the restoration or preservation of important historical sites or the researching and writing of a work that might revolutionise how we see not just historical figures and events but also our modern world.
You might have seen “A Day in the Life” videos or videos on BuzzFeed where people with different professions ranging from lawyers to wedding planners discuss the trials and tribulations of their day-to-day work lives. While tutorial videos in Bangla exist, personal stories on what people go through, the details of which people might not find online, does not exist. Structured and planned videos by different professionals at various levels might give viewers insider information on how certain jobs really are.
This is relevant, because unlike other countries, Bangladesh seems to lack externship programmes or job-shadowing opportunities. It is in these arrangements that students can get first-hand experience of what a certain profession might be like without devoting the amount of time an internship requires as the former (externships and job shadowing) might last only a day or a week which is convenient for children in school.
Often students have little to no idea of what they might want to do in the future, or if they do, they sometimes have the wrong information or expectations about the field and get disillusioned when they do work in the job they aimed for. Such videos may therefore not only deter a student from pursuing a profession which might actually be unsuitable or not to their liking, but might allow them to learn and realise that they are interested in a profession or field that they might not have heard of before, or if they did, they might not have considered it. As a result, students can make decisions such as what subject they will study in university and what work they might do that improves their opportunities of getting a job they want later on.
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