Case #1: Three initiatvies in Bangladesh:
By Nusrat Jahan

English in Action: BBC Media Action in Bangladesh

Adoption of ICT to enhance educational effectiveness is at the initial stage in Bangladesh. However almost all the projects are based around the teachers - how ICT can be used effectively to develop the capacity of teachers to enhance a students’ learning and classroom experience.
5th Graders at Alok Primary School in Dhaka watch a Bengali version of a Khan Academy Video (Image Source: Agami)

Among these projects, English in Action – a project by BBC media action – is probably the only well-documented initiative. The Primary Teaching Learning Program component of the project aims to bring overall pedagogic changes in Primary teachers’ practices especially in relation to language teaching and learning resulting into enhanced English Language Proficiency of both students and teachers in Bangladesh.[1] It takes a school-based approach with a commitment to ensure “continuous local capacity building.” Face-to-face Teacher Training and Support to improve teachers’ pedagogic skills through practice and reflection is one of the major component of PTLP. The project uses a variety of tools to enhance effectiveness of English learning with a variety of tools, audio-visual instruction material is one of them.

The project has developed audio contents based on the national curriculum and recommended/assigned textbooks. Each teacher gets an mp3 player loaded with classroom materials and accompanied by speakers. There are 2 audio chapters each of approximately 4–6 minutes for each unit of the textbook. These are accompanied by a range of large posters, flashcards, figurines and alphabet and number charts which the teacher uses alongside the audio. The audio code-switches between Bangla and English to ensure that the children understand the context within which the English dialogues are set. Each teacher also receives a guide to using the materials and the mp3 player containing files of classroom language for the teacher to practice and video of good classroom practice which can be discussed in the cluster meetings. The teachers are encouraged to film each other’s classes from time to time using a small Flip video camera to build in reflective and critical practice. The teachers also receive range of other study materials such as posters, flash cards, figurines etc. In this initial pilot phase (2008–2011) the project worked with 450 primary school English teachers across all 6 divisions of Bangladesh.

An evaluation study conducted in 2011 found some statistically significant positive change in the following areas: Compared to baseline, the students speak more often, a sign of increased interaction. While speaking, both the teachers and students used English more often than before. [2] But the study also found the usage of a limited range of words, phrases and sentences.
7th Graders at Dhaora High School in Bangladesh watch a Khan Academy video. (Image Source: Agami)

Comments: While the result of the pilot study shows some encouraging results, it is not clear what the contribution of new technology (e.g. Mp3 audio content) is an improvement. Audio material is one of the many support materials and programs provided by the project, including teachers’ training. The project is also expensive, initial cost of developing targeted study materials, training programs and training facilitators is considerably high.

Bangladesh government commitment to integrate ICT in primary and secondary education:
The current government of Bangladesh has taken a comprehensive strategy to integrate ICT in the education system including primary, secondary, non-formal and higher education. The main thrust is on developing the capacity of teachers to make use of ICT in providing better education. Another focus area is to include ICT education in all stages. Bangladesh government is gradually implementing the following initiatives:
1. Teachers training on ICT areas including basic computing, use of multimedia, internet and projection software, enabling them to produce digital content for the students.
2. Developing training facilities of teachers on how to use new technologies to improve teaching materials and methods.
3. Continuous professional development of teachers by developing online course content and using dissemination platforms such as television, radio and the internet.
4. Improving the ICT facilities in classroom by providing laptop and multimedia to assist teachers to supplement their teaching through the use of audio-visual materials.

In partnership with Microsoft, the Ministry of Education already developed modules for teachers’ training and trained 13,000 teachers on how to use different software, internet and multimedia platforms. The government has also trained 400 trainers on developing content and modules and started training the teachers on the same. The government is in the process of distributing computer and multimedia facilities to the primary schools so that the teachers can use those to make learning experience enjoyable and to explain abstract and hard topics.

Comment: The initiative of Bangladesh government has just begun. It is very early to make any comment or assess the effectiveness of these projects. However, when it comes to impact evaluation, the government agencies always do not do a good job. The civil societies, NGOs, private sector and multi-lateral organizations involved in the process must take action to properly document the early results. Because it is absolutely necessary to adapt the program based on early impact.

[2] The Classroom Practices of Primary and Secondary School Teachers Participating in English in Action, English in Action (2011)

Youtube Video Source: UNDP

An interview with Dilruba Choudhury, Project Director Aagami foundation:

An expatriate Bangladeshi group based in USA started this foundation with an aim to create quality educational opportunities for under-privileged children in Bangladesh. With some fund from Khan Academy, they translated more than 1,000 Khan Videos in Bangla. In early 2012 they started a pilot project in four schools (three schools funded by Agami for under-privileged children and another school with similar profile) to test the effectiveness of these videos among students in 5th and 7th grade. They selected 50 math videos in commensurate with the curricula, developed some relevant exercise materials and distributed some PDAs (Personal Digital Assistance) loaded with those videos. Within one year, they started to see some positive outcomes, according to Dilruba Chowdhury, Project Director in Agami. They are in the process of formal documentation. But they need to wait until the end of academic year, which is December, to get some concrete result. Ms. Chowdhury recently visited the schools and talked with the children and teachers.
Some of the positive findings, according to her:

1. All the 5th grade children expressed their confidence and said that they are going to get 100 out of 100 in the forthcoming national examination.

2. The teachers are also confident that the students will do very good, at least comparable to the results of mainstream schools.

3. Teachers also mentioned that now they feel comfortable to assign homework to the children.

Some of the objections:

1. The Bengali used in the videos is too formal.

2. The videos do not have full coverage of the curricula.

Comment: It is too early to comment about the effectiveness of these online materials in increasing quality education. Next year, Agami is planning to roll out the pilot project to four more classes. It is notable here that these videos are used as a complementary study materials, not supplementing the teachers, class attendance and other traditional study methods.

​Read Case #2: Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan and EDC T4 in India