According to a recently signed “Statement of Intent”, operational for six months starting on November 1, UNDP Bangladesh and the Volunteers Association for Bangladesh (VAB) will cooperate on an e-learning pilot project which aims to enhance access to education of 191 SSC (2021 and 2022) candidates with assistance from 22 teachers in 9 schools located in Satkhira, Kurigram, Nilphamary, Pabna, and Jashore. e-Learning by students of rural schools is a “first” for Bangladesh. The cooperative project is expected to achieve progressively greater technology diffusion in rural areas which will contribute to supplying digital skills as Bangladesh enters the 4IR era.
The Volunteers Association for Bangladesh (VAB), is an international NGO registered both in Bangladesh and the U.S.A. It has been devoted solely to rural education since 2000, and is deeply concerned about the “education/learning deficit” in rural schools due to the damages done by the pandemic to traditional on-site schooling. UNDP with a global presence in nearly 170 countries works with partners in numerous countries to promote sustainable development, eradication of poverty, advancement of women, good governance, and the rule of law. The partnership between UNDP and VAB is a natural “win-win” relationship between the two organizations.
As part of this joint initiative, UNDP will provide the necessary Learning Management System (LMS), which has some unique features: it includes curricular content required for the pilot project, limits the use to Internet material limited only to curricular content, and at the same time, provides a Monitoring and Evaluation System about the use of the app. VAB will manage the day-to-day implementation of the pilot project and the distribution of digital tablets. The project is also to produce a learning report to assess its activities and outcomes based on results, observations, and the data generated by the LMS. Both UNDP and VAB teams will have discussions jointly and coordinate the overall implementation of this pilot project and development of the learning product.
Bangladesh Science Popularization Committee and Freedom Foundation work for promotion of interests in science by holding science fairs nationally. VAB promotes participation in these fairs.
VAB works with Bangladesh Open Source Network (BDOSN), a nongovernment organization, to offer training in selected schools on Computer Programming and Robotics. So far school teams from five schools have received training and have also participated in the competition organized by BDOSN.
Bishwa Shahitto Kendro (BSK) promotes book reading among students. VAB encourages the schools to join the program. Most of the VAB schools are connected with the program.
The Math Olympiad Committee in Bangladesh holds Math Olympiad competitions countrywide annually, under the auspices of the International Math Olympiad Committee. The competitions are held at the Primary, Junior High, High School and Senior High School levels. VAB encourages schools to participate in the Junior High and the High School competitions. For the schools that show interest, VAB encourages and mentors students of the VAB schools to take part in these competitions. VAB organizes a brief training for a group of twenty students by volunteers from the Math Olympiad Committee. The students are provided with materials to practice by themselves, with supervision and support from the Math teacher of the school. VAB partners with the schools to send out promising students to compete at the district, regional and national levels.
The Math Olympiad Program of VAB does not cover all students in a school. The expectation is that the exposure of the team sent by a school and hopefully the team’s accomplishments would spur interest in Math among all students, providing an impetus to understand Math starting from the fundamentals. An additional expectation is to spark the interest of students with relative proficiency in Math to join the Olympiad next year.