‘Accelerating Progress and Equity in Education during the Pandemic in Bangladesh’
The virtual National Seminar, " Accelerating Progress and Equity in Education during the Pandemic in Bangladesh" was organised by the South Asian Institute of Policy and Governance (SIPG) at North South University (NSU) and KASpaces of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), Germany, on September 18 and 19.
"Honourable Prime Minister and her government will continue to make efforts so that the digital divide and gaps in education are minimised, and each Bangladeshi gets a fair opportunity to education", shared M A Mannan, MP, Hon'ble Minister, Ministry of Planning, at the closing ceremony of the two-day seminar. He graced the closing session of the event as the Chief Guest.
The purpose of the National Seminar was to share experiences and address the challenges of SDG 4, which is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. Dr Shamsul Alam, Hon'ble State Minister, Ministry of Planning, inaugurated the virtual seminar on September 18. The event featured four business sessions. On the first day, the themes of discussion were: "Blended Learning versus Traditional Classroom" and "Infrastructure and Teachers Development". On the second day, the discussions were on "Inequality in Education" and "New Actors in Education".
Alina Reiss, Deputy Director, Political Dialogue Asia Program, KAS, appreciated the initiatives by the Bangladeshi government such as three-phase response plan, utilisation of AI, personalised learning system and use of TV, radio, and mobile phones to facilitate remote learning during the pandemic. She also highlighted the importance of exchanging dialogues and research among different organisations to ensure quality education.
Special Guest of the session Azim Uddin Ahmed, Chairman, Board of Trustees, NSU, stated that the timely policy intervention of the government hrough "COVID 19 Response and Recovery Plan in Education Sector" in 2020 provided a framework of strategies and interventions to cope with the adverse impacts of Covid-19. He also added that North South University has been able to keep up the momentum of academic activities through online learning, and is the first among the public and private universities to successfully complete an online convocation in Bangladesh.
Professor Atiqul Islam, Vice- Chancellor, NSU, was the Chair of the Session. He said that the digital divide was minimised by providing financial and technical support to the students of NSU. He further added that the pandemic has led us to some innovations that will we will need in the upcoming days. He opined that when the university opens, people need to ensure the safety protocols, and participation of all students through both online and offline measures.
Dr M Mahfuzul Haque, Faculty, SIPG, NSU, reflected on the key takeaways of the two-day National Seminar. He mentioned that a "Blended Model of Pedagogy" is the future of education, and to reap full benefits of it, both students and teachers need to adapt with it. He further added that the deficit in ICT infrastructure, poverty, traditional mindset, and high price of data are a few of the major reasons behind the digital divide in Bangladesh.