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multimedia classrooms

Govt backtracks from open tender for 26,000 laptops

Harun Ur Rashid, Dhaka

The government has stepped back from open procurement of 26,000 laptops and other materials for multimedia classrooms in primary schools. This has raised questions in different quarters.

Sources said the primary and mass education ministry in March called for an open tender for the purchase of 26,000 laptops, multimedia projectors and sound systems for multimedia classrooms under the Primary Education Development Project (PEDP)-4.

The estimated cost was Tk. 338 crore.

Though some companies participated in the bid, the ministry concerned later decided to purchase the materials from Telephone Shilpa Sangstha (TSS) through the direct procurement method (DPM).

However, there are specific public procurement rules (PPR) regarding the DPM, which can only be applied if the company concerned can manufacture and assemble the materials on its own. But Bangladesh has no such arrangement for manufacturing and assembling laptops, multimedia projectors and sound systems.

So, TSS does not have the capacity to manufacture and assemble such materials.

Even the finance ministry often emphasises the importance of the open tender method for ensuring transparency in

procurement process.The companies that had taken part in the pre-bidding wrote applications to the primary and mass education ministry, requesting it to cancel the attempt to buy laptops under the open tender method to ensure transparency in procurement in PEDP-4.

On August 25, Unique Business System Limited, one of the companies, wrote a letter to the state minister for primary and mass education, urging him to look into the matter for the sake of ensuring transparency and supplying quality materials for educational institutions.

According to the Directorate of Primary Education (DPE), technology-based multimedia classrooms are being run in one model primary school in each upazila.

The government has taken initiatives to run such classrooms in over 60,000 classrooms in government primary schools across the country.

For the purpose of providing multimedia equipment to these schools, the authorities concerned called  an international open tender on March 7. Later, a pre-bidding meeting was held on March 24 without the participation of the representatives of the development agencies.

Later, the open tender process was annulled and decision was taken to purchase the accessories through direct procurement method from TSS.

One of the senior officers of DPE, preferring anonymity, told The Independent recently: “Initially, the government had decided to follow the open tender method to ensure transparency. Bypassing it, attempts are being made to purchase the materials from TSS.”

It has been learnt that TSS supplied around 24,000 ICT materials, including laptops of the Doel brand, for the ICT Phase-1 project under the secondary and higher secondary project in 2013. But most of them failed to function soon after they were supplied to the educational institutions.

Akram-al Hossain, secretary of the primary and mass education ministry, told The Independent: “We have cancelled the open tender purchase of the laptops because we want to buy the materials from the government-run TSS.”

“We asked the post and telecommunications ministry whether it would be able to supply such materials. They replied us in the positive,” he said.

“We will send a summary of the letter to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) within a day or two. We’ll implement whatever decision comes from there. Besides, the Prime  Minister has a directive in this regard to purchase materials from state-run organiations,” he added.

The secretary said they would get approval from the PMO within a week and the move for the next steps for starting the purchase.

Asked about purchasing the multimedia materials from TSS, Hossain said: “Before the purchase of such materials, one of our teams would assess the capacity of TSS. Later the decision would be taken.” This is the first time the primary and mass education ministry is going to purchase multimedia materials through the direct procurement method.

Previously, the ministry bought 50,000 laptops and other materials through the open tender process in PEDP-3.

The current government is giving highest priority to multimedia classrooms as a modern teaching-learning method.

Sources said the multimedia classrooms were being run in 58,500 primary schools, out of 65,593 schools, across the country.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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