Introduction:

Bangladesh is one of the fastest growing economies of the recent world. Performance of Bangladesh in various socio-economic indicators like GDP growth, Per Capita Income, Life Expectancy, Health and Education and so on is remarkable. Currently, Bangladesh government is giving priority in integrated and inclusive development. On the contrary, though Bangladesh is showing remarkable performance in various socio-economic indicators but its performance in ensuring quality education for all is not up to the mark and companionable with the competitive world. Therefore, to instigate integrated and inclusive development movement of Bangladesh and address the problems related to education, e-Education project was initiated in Bangladesh in 2009 to reduce gap of quality education between urban and countryside areas through providing ICT based distance learning innovation. It creates access for higher education for meritorious but poor students from remote areas of Bangladesh. We also provide some scholarships to successful students for smooth continuation study. Since its inception, it has already implemented various projects and programs for integrated quality education for all.

e-Education Project:

e-Education Bangladesh started its journey in January, 2009. It has developed a concept of ‘e-learning’ to provide financially poor students of rural areas with more access to quality education and better lessons via Information Communication Technology (ICT). e-Education initially selected the students of higher secondary level to provide study materials and lectures recorded in DVDs (Digital Video Disks). The study contents recorded in DVDs aimed to help the selected students with the preparation of their HSC (Higher Secondary Certificate) and university entrance exams. DVD-based lectures were guided and prepared by efficient and trained teachers who have become adroit in pertinent subjects such as Bengali, English, Accounting, Management etc.

Learning through audio-visuals (i.e. watching and listening) has a great influence on students in terms of effective learning. As a result, DVD-based lectures are gaining popularity in helping underprivileged students in rural areas. Ever since 2009, a large number of students are joining e-Education to pursue a consistent and higher quality of education. From 2009 to 2016, more than 12,000 students from different areas, especially from Chandpur and three other districts, directly or indirectly participated in e-Education and have benefited greatly.

e-Science Project:

In 2013, e-Education & World Bank started a new journey to address the problems related to quality learning of basic sciences (i.e. Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Mathematics) at the secondary level. Currently there are a lot of obstacles studying basic sciences in rural areas of Bangladesh due to the lack of skilled teachers, laboratory facilities, and properly-managed practical classes. e-Education has recorded lectures on basic sciences in DVDs in order to provide better science education and reduce the educational gap between rural and urban areas. Teachers were handpicked from a pool of renowned institutions to conduct lectures and practical classes in well-equipped laboratories. The ‘e-Science’ project was introduced in 45 secondary schools under 6 upazila for class ‘IX’ and ‘X’ with the support of the World Bank and Secondary Education Quality Access and Enhancement Project (SEQAEP) under the Ministry of Education.

Research says e-Education project has significant impact on students’ performance:

Offline audio-visual lectures are importance tool to ensure quality education for the countryside students of Bangladesh. Experimental evidence from rural Bangladesh, a research study was conducted from 2012 to 2015 by Yasuyuki Sawada, professor of the University of Tokyo, (currently, Chief Economist of ADB) on DVD-based Distance-learning Program for University Entrance Exams. Research results revealed some significant findings that:

  1. Students of the treatment group (with Audio-Visual lectures) scored 36% higher in their academic examinations than the students of the control group (without Audio-Visual lectures) over a 6-month period.
  2. 85% of the students preferred multimedia lessons (i.e. Audio-Visual lectures) for academic courses as opposed to the traditional method. The reasons behind the popularity of multimedia lessons (i.e. DVD-based lectures) are that it’s easy to use frequently, anytime and anywhere.

These results reflect the great potential to scale this method of effective learning through the use of ICT (Information Communication Technology) in each level of primary and secondary education. e-learning innovation can contribute to reduce the educational gap between rural and urban areas. It has the capacity and capability to ensure quality education for all.

Thus, we hope to spread quality education in each and every corner to accelerate integrated development of Bangladesh and create access for higher education for deserving students.

Bangladesh Bank CSR Project:

In 2016, BacBon Foundation (hereinafter referred as ‘the Foundation’) was awarded with a project by the Bangladesh Bank titled “Ensuring Quality Education for underprivileged students of Bangladesh through the use of Information Communication Technology (ICT)” under the Sustainable Finance Division. The project aims to ensure quality education for all students irrespective of their gender, ethnicity, socio-economic conditions, and geographical locations. In particular, the project aims to prepare multimedia contents (i.e. audio-visual lectures recorded in DVD) on basic disciplines like English, and Mathematics for the students of class eight, nine, and ten.

Activities of the project

  • Inception Workshop:

The Foundation’s (e-Education) proactive team, led by the Project Manager and the Content Development Researcher, organized the workshop. The Foundation organized the ‘Inception Workshop’ for the stated project at the Conference Hall Complex of the Department of Development Studies (5th Floor, Arts Building) at the University of Dhaka on 9th of January.

The workshop brought together English and Mathematics teachers, students, education experts from the University of Dhaka, curriculum experts, policy makers, and some other relevant stakeholders to brainstorm on the e-learning and multimedia lessons. The project team gathered valuable insights from the participants of the workshop on how to develop quality multimedia lessons.

  • Developing Multimedia Contents:

The Foundation staffs and the project staffs have worked together to develop quality multimedia lessons for the secondary level students. Based on the recommendation of experts from inception workshop, the project team has developed multimedia contents (i.e. DVD-based lectures) for students of class VIII to X.

Starting from February 2016, the team has worked with lecturers from BUET and University of Dhaka to develop multimedia lectures on basic disciplines like English and Mathematics. The project team has recorded total 56 audio-visual lectures for English (VIII & IX-X) and 46 Mathematics lectures (for class VIII & IX-X) using ThinkBoard Software.

  • Copying the lectures in DVDs:

BacBon Foundation has developed total 56 (audio-visual) Multimedia lectures for English and 46 ‘ThinkBoard’ software-based lectures for Mathematics. The Foundation has prepared the lectures for both online and offline versions. For offline implementation of the project, the team copied total 102 lectures in 37 DVDs. These DVDs have been delivered to 40 schools with an album for primary piloting.

  • Online platform for students:

To reach millions of students leveraging the blessing of internet and smartphones, BacBon Foundation has initiated an open online educational platform named BMOOC (Bangladesh Massive Open Online Courses). BMOOC is aimed to provide audio-visual lectures and other study materials via internet to assist the students to prepare better for their public examinations. The project team has taken the advantage of this open online educational platform to promote the audio-visual lectures prepared with the support of the Bangladesh Bank. The project team uploaded all the audio-visual lectures in the BMOOC site. Please visit http://bmooc.net to see the online platform.

  • Developing User Manual:

The project staffs developed a user manual for instructors to show how to use ThinkBoard Software as well as DVD. The ‘user manual’ helped local teachers to best utilize the multimedia contents in classroom teaching. (Please see the attached files for user manual)

  • Piloting in 40 secondary schools in 2 different districts:

Before moving to the final implementation of the audio-visual lectures in schools, the project team pre-tested the multimedia contents in 5 schools in rural areas to see the feedback of the teachers and students. Throughout the short pre-testing period, the feedback was positive. Later on, the Foundation finalized the contents and provided those to 40 schools in rural areas from two districts, Chandpur and Shariatpur mainly.

  • ‘Capacity building programs’ for 80 teachers and 10 Education Officers in 2 districts:

For the ‘Capacity building’ program, BacBon team developed a user manual which had been provided to each school. The capacity building programs had been arranged for teachers to introduce them multimedia contents and how to use them properly. The project team conducted the ‘capacity building programs’ at the end of August to support effective implementation of the e-learning programs in schools.

  • Implementing offline e-learning program:

To provide DVD based Contents and user manuals to 40 schools, BacBon team prepared a set of 37 DVDs with an album for each school for offline implementation. For online learning, the Mathematics lectures were made compact in size so that students from anywhere can get easy access from their smartphones even by using 2G internet service. Though the English lectures might require bigger data size, but students can get easy access using Youtube.

Outcome of the Project:

The project was implemented in selected 40 secondary schools from 2 different districts during July to December 2016. In June-July 2016, the ‘Baseline survey’ was conducted on 150 students randomly chosen from 4 high schools. The ‘baseline survey’ has been conducted at the beginning of the project to collect data about some randomly chosen respondents (i.e. students) so that these data can later be compared with the data from the ‘follow-up survey’ at the end of the project. In December 2016, the research team conducted the ‘follow-up survey’ on the same 150 respondents who were randomly chosen during the earlier ‘baseline survey’.

The follow-up survey focused on the improvements in the academic performance of the students through their attendance in multimedia classes, their class participation, and their academic result in 2nd Semester final exam.

It was found from the follow-up survey that around 83 percent of the respondents attended almost all the classes after the implementation of the project during the last 6 months. The class teachers of English and Mathematics in the respective schools also suggest that it was unprecedented where more than 80 percent of the students were consistently present in the classrooms during the whole semester.