Transitioning to E- Learning: Higher Education in the Global South

Jun 16, 2020

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Dhaka University Central Students Union (DUCSU) Law and Politics Review (DUCSU LPR) organized a webinar titled “Transition to E- Learning: Higher Education in the Global South” on June 15, 2020. Barrister Mohibul Hassan Chowdhury, MP, Honorable Deputy Minister of Ministry of Education of the Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh was present as the Chair of the webinar. Dr. Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak, Professor of Economics of Yale University, Dr. Justin Reich, Director of MIT Teaching Systems Lab and Dr. A.S.M. Maksud Kamal, President of Dhaka University Teacher’s Association joined the webinar as the panelists. From the elected leadership of DUCSU, AGS Saddam Hussain was present. The event was hosted by Shahrima Tanjina Arni, International Affairs Secretary, DUCSU and Md. Azhar Uddin Bhuiyan, Editor-in-Chief, DUCSU Law and Politics Review.

In the webinar, Mohibul Hasan Chowdhury, MP said that, “We have started classes in Sangsad TV for primary and secondary education. One of the philosophies of our Honorable Prime Minister is that our poverty and economic situation should not be an obstacle to education. However, there are inequalities in public higher education as they run in different types of management system. But we can use multimedia or multiple medium systems in order to connect the students in educational grounds, even if we could involve 15-20% students. To facilitate that the government is discussing with the World Bank to provide students with loan for smart devices.” He also appealed the educational institutions to take necessary steps for the students so that they don’t get detached from their studies.

Dr. Ahmed Mushfiq Mubarak said, “We need to give students access, especially the students of lower socio-economic status to this E-Learning platforms. Class lectures should be open for all by using technologies rather than limited only in the classroom. These can be possible by pairing with public or private universities or television channels. If I talk about University of Dhaka, there are students of different socioeconomic statuses involved in the educational system. In this situation, the students of upper economic status can participate in their classes by using laptops and rest of them can attend physically. In this case, teachers can use video- graphic technologies to reach the students who are at home.”

While discussing about some layers of E-Learning like old technologies, video conferencing and courses taken by only SMS in the educational sectors, Dr. Justin Reich said, “Societies now have to decide how much we have to spend in there, where is little opportunities. Even in the USA, there are a lot of differences in the educational system in different areas. But if we want to involve the faculties with online education system, we need to hire staffs who can operate technologies and help the faculty members to take online classes. Again this experience will not be the same for everyone as some students will enjoy the access while some will struggle as they are not with their peer groups. Also it will be different for different subjects, especially subjects which need physical appearance of the students and teachers can face challenges.”

The President of Dhaka University Teacher’s Association, Dr. A.S.M. Maksud Kamal explained about the current situation of the educational system of University of Dhaka and addressed, “University of Dhaka must have its own online portal where the lectures will be uploaded so that the students could watch and understand their subjects in their leisure times. Now we are using Zoom, Google Classroom in the public universities. These applications can be used frequently as students aren’t connected with their educational grounds for about two and a half months. In a survey, 35% of the students mentioned about their financial problems though they are highly interested to connect with their teachers if they get any support. In the USA, they are using high quality technologies as their corporate agencies complete many courses online. But we don’t have that ground. But there are some opportunities to overcome our digital barriers. As our internet expenditure is two to three times less cost than India, we can use this very easily. Also we should communicate with Robi, Grameenphone so that they could reduce 50% of internet cost for our students and the rest will be paid by university authority.”

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Sakin Tavir is a third year student at the Department of Criminology, University of Dhaka. His research interest lies in the criminal justice system of Bangladesh.