An effective e-learning platform for the rural students

Bangladesh is a relatively small agriculture-dominated country of 147,570 km2 with a huge population of about 160 million and active workforce of 73.9 million (67% of people of workable population is between 15 and 59 years with adult literacy rate of 61%).

The country enjoys demographic dividend as the youth constitutes one-third of the total population and thus represents a development priority agenda for the Government of Bangladesh. Although unemployment in the country is low (4.30% in 2014), the rate of underemployment is quite high (28.7%). Substantial underemployment exists in rural areas, home to around 80% of the total population, as well as in urban areas; and it is higher for females than for males.

Education is the basic need for the socio-economic transformation and the advancement of a country. It is the prime ingredient of human resource development. Bangladesh has come a long way in achieving education for all, now it’s time to achieve ‘quality education for all’. Schools worldwide are achieving better education results through the effective use of ICT to complement, to support and, at times, to change the teaching and learning process. The use of technology in the field of education is becoming indispensable worldwide.

Knowledge has become the currency for future. The ‘Anytime, Anywhere and by Anyone ‘nature of e-learning makes it an attractive tool for dissemination of skills and knowledge of the developed countries to the developing countries. It could also be useful for the portion of the population in a developing country, which cannot enroll in the formal educational programs.

In case of Bangladesh, the teaching resources are also very limited. Compared to the number of students, the number of teachers is really very small. In this situation, E-learning could be a very effective way to deliver quality learning-materials to all the learners. When illiteracy is one of the major issues in Bangladesh and the goal of ‘Education for All’ is being vigorously pursued, employment of E-Learning could be a good solution for attracting the learners for ensuring attendance in the primary schools. While attracting the learners is necessary mainly for the primary level; for secondary and tertiary level, E-Learning is sometimes more than necessary to ensure the quality of education.

The effectiveness of using e-learning tools in the classroom has been studied and proved time and time again. Information technology is capable of capturing a student’s attention through visual representation of concepts taught, sounds, moving pictures as well as interactive activities.

Educational institutions today understand this and are already making use of this functional medium in various aspects of their day-to-day activities. From classroom teaching, assigning homework, assessing students and delivering results, technology, and more importantly the internet, is being embedded into the very core of the educational system. In Bangladesh, however, the use of internet among students is limited to social networking and entertainment. The reason being, lack of appropriate content from the field of education and absence of research-based activities and assignments from schools. Inquisitive students often feel lost in the humongous sea of information available on the internet. If they could find something that was close to their school syllabus, they could find it useful and relevant to them.

In the age of rapid technological advancement, some vital skills of technologies our students should acquire from school to cope with the next industrial revolution.

To implement such curriculum in addition to the existing curriculum with the availability of e-learning facilities a holistic strategical approach is required. There are some massive challenges is waiting to implement such skill base curriculum. The teaching learning process, environment, resource, teacher, assessment and overall curriculum must be reshaped. More precisely we need to focus on three most prioritized courses of action which are formative assessment along with interactive teaching learning method, self-motivated and well-trained teachers, and visionary educational leaders to ensure quality education.

There is a need to develop class-based and subject-based quality learning materials (including self-learning & subsidiary materials) for both teachers and students.

Due to inadequate knowledge how to use ICT devices on education, most of the teachers are often less motivated to use them. ICT capacity development of teachers, trainers, curriculum developers, and education managers needs to be improved through the training of the teachers and awareness.

Students, teachers and guardians are not aware of educational portals and digital content. Students and parents should be guided in the appropriate use of technology.

Compared to urban areas in semi urban and rural areas teaching strategies, physical structures of education institutions and internet connections are not adequate. Proper utilization of e-learning facilities and internet connection is required in the rural areas to reduce educational quality discrepancy between rural educational institutions with urban educational system.

Considering these aforementioned issues Alo Bhubon Trust initiated its project on education named “PolliPathshala” to promote e-learning facilities within the rural areas school and to diminish educational quality discrimination between rural and urban educational system. The founder chairman of Alo Bhubon Trust Prof. Dr. Golam Abu Zakaria has a long history of working in the education sectors of rural areas such as development of primary and secondary school since 1999.

In continuation of these activities, Alo Bhubon Trust has taken the initiative to conduct various educational activities through online courses titled “PalliPathshala” with the aim of imparting vocational education to the students and training of teachers on online education activities. These include: 1. NCTB Syllabus based teaching 2. English speaking course 3. ICT and freelancing course 4. Technical education 5. Motivational courses like on Health and environmental awareness education etc.

The ultimate objectives of “PolliPathshala” is the establishment of entrepreneurship using the resource in the underprivileged remote areas through identify and developing skilled manpower, to compete in the real globalized world.