Online schooling, a most concerning issue in the present situation of Bangladesh, started its journey when the government announced the closure of educational institutions on March 16 due to Covid-19 pandemic. At the very beginning, most of the private and a few public universities decided to conduct online classes to make up the educational gap for ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
This sudden turn to online class was not accepted by a large number of students. The situation becomes tougher when the closure continues for long as students find themselves in a state of uncertainty and create a new tradition of learning.
The overall picture of the education system in Bangladesh has already been changed following the continuous emerging of pandemic threat. The students have no choice but to choose for the online class. The teachers are being instructed how to deal with this new method.
The world’s famous universities had their online programmes for foreign students for a century. They had also been successful and doing it effectively still now. But the real scenario changes when it (online schooling) comes in front of a developing country like Bangladesh. The implementation level and the achievements are not satisfactory except for some rare cases here. The condition is almost the same for every country throughout the world, and therefore Bangladesh is trying its level best to continue education through online as well as to achieve the best from limitations.
Bangladesh is holding 20 million graduates. After this pandemic, they will have to enter the competitive job field for supporting their family. Besides, entrepreneurship among graduates is very rare in Bangladesh. So, the pressure goes to them naturally who are doing their online programmes having a lot of limitations for only to complete their courses in due time.
Another most concerning issues of online education in Bangladesh, through which we are going on, are the limitations we face, is the concept regarding online education among the guardians.
Unavailability of materials for the online class is one of the limitations that a student faces first. Most of the graduates of our country are rural-based where the availability of proper materials remains below the mark. For online education students are suggested to use Zoom meeting link, Facebook live, YouTube video link and so on. All the media require a high-speed network to operate properly. But the speed in the rural area is very low for operating these apps properly. Students have to face loading problem in class time which hampers their understanding. Sometimes this problem discourages our graduates to participate in the online class. Without getting proper instructions from the lectures, they are completing their courses during this pandemic situation. So, students are being deprived of quality education.
The high cost of data fuels this problem a bit more for all the students. The national budget 2020-2021 this year has added a new degree to this problem. The cost of mobile call and internet bill has been increased from 10 per cent to15 per cent which results in the overall increase to 33.25 per cent which was only 27.25 per cent before. This instant increase in cost regarding data has created a new headache. During Covid-19 most of the students and their family are facing the problem of their basic needs. To fulfill their extra cost regarding online education they are being a little bit more bored than before.
During Covid-19 most of the university students have gone their village home for safety. But they are being asked to continue their online class in this pandemic situation. There are guardians who directly oppose taking an online class. The scenario becomes more complicated for female students when they are asked to represent themselves in social media through the video call.
In Bangladeshi perspective, most of the female students are highly concerned about social safety. In video class, they are seen keeping themselves away from video. They generally conduct through audio or representing themselves by an image of a tree or nature or symbolic pictures only.
All the concerning issues are making education difficult. The question regarding quality education is a demand for our young generation. We are lagging behind day by day for the cause of quality education of our graduates. We have research limitations, the proper scope for fieldwork and tremendous brain drain.
But the concerned authorities are voiceless regarding the present situation. If proper care is not given now in this field, how our next generation will face is a big challenge now? The government should ensure uninterrupted network connection. Facebook live or YouTube live should be preferred considering the frequent load-shedding and poor network along with zoom application. Open book exams rather than assignment would be fruitful. Viva-voce marks should be increased based on class lecture.
Besides, the university authorities could introduce the Learning Management System (LMS) or Content Management System (CMS) as most of the world universities conduct through it. Besides, reading courses, make-up courses, remedial courses in English and Math can be offered. Free learning courses including Coursera, Harvard Business Publishing, MOOCS, etc. can be added optionally. All these limitations and experiences regarding the new method will lead Bangladesh to enter digitally in future.
The writer is a lecturer, department of English, Royal University of Dhaka. E-mail: [email protected]