BYTES OF PROGRESS

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In 2008, the Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina promised to lead the nation towards prosperity with Vision 2021. As such, the National ICT Policy-2009 was developed with a view to achieve middle-income status of the nation by 2021 and developed status by 2041. Committed to the vision of a ‘Digital Bangladesh’, the government has not only achieved the target it had set for the nation, it has now pledged to extend the vision to 2050, and continue to leverage IT and IteS (Information Technology Enabled Services).

With the aim to bring every home under the digital network, the core commitment of Digital Bangladesh is to use digital tools to alleviate poverty and reduce corruption. Illustrating how effective the government’s efforts have been in implementing its vision, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) reports that between 2013 to 2017, the number of internet users almost tripled. As of early 2021, The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) recorded a total of 11 crore and 73 lakh internet subscribers, of which only 9.8 million use broadband connections while the rest are mobile internet users. Moreover, according to Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS), in 2018 alone the nation earned $1 billion by exporting ICT products and services, and that there are over 1,500 software and IT-related companies have registered in Bangladesh. Moreover, freelancers are now incentivized by the government to do more outsourced IT works. Government of Bangladesh currently provides 10% interest on the remittance that is earned by freelancers on IT and ITES.
The Government of Bangladesh has been playing a strong role in the development of ICT. Having reached the overarching target of Digital Bangladesh, the next step is to keep moving towards further development. The four pillars of Digital Bangladesh are Digital Government, Human Resource Development, IT Industry Promotion and Connecting Citizens. As such, the government has started to implement the National Information and Communication Technology policy to build skilled human resources. In order to strengthen the IT sector, the nation’s first high-tech park is also under works, and ICT Corporate City Development has been established to train ICT graduates. The addition of e-tools such as SMS payment, payment gateway integration, and online transaction processing, to the government services has revolutionized the way the general public recieves government services. As such, the government has already enabled access to countless digital services such as online income tax return, online public exam result, telemedicine, etc. However, as a country can truly be a digital country when all the activities of the nation can be conducted through the internet, there is more work to be done.
Below are a few examples of the government projects that are currently being implemented:

 

The Information and Communication Technology Division has come up with a project plan that began on March 2020 and will end by February 2023 to upgrade 5000 schools with digital labs across the country

 

Sheikh Russel Digital Labs
Bangladesh has always faced an issue with quality education in rural areas. Students outside urban and sub-urban often do not feel motivated enough to carry on higher education. On the other hand, quality education has rarely been ensured in government schools and madrasas. Although the nation’s illiteracy rate is narrowing down rapidly, we still have a problem with unemployability. To address this issue, the Information and Communication Technology Division has come up with a project plan that began on March 2020 and will end by February 2023 to upgrade 5000 schools with digital labs across the country. Each of the schools are being given 17 computers/laptops, WIFI routers as gadgets. Moreover, 36,020 teachers are getting information and communication technology training from the government to run the digital labs properly and address the queries of the students. The project also includes plans to develop content on Communicative English, Maths, and Science following the British standard curriculum. Mobile application versions of a government-initiated software called VashaGuru that teaches students English communication are also being launched under the Sheikh Russel Digital Lab project. By launching the mobile version of the application, students will not have to rely on the school computers to learn the English language, enabling the learning to go beyond the devices at school to their mobile phones at home.

 

 

Currently, Bangladesh is excelling in the robotics field. To get optimal traction on this, 300 higher secondary schools in 300 different constitutional areas of Bangladesh are to be included under the So (School of future) model among 5000 schools where students will recieve robotics learning and other advanced opportunities. The purpose behind building the schools of the future is to equip the students of our country with the latest technological support available. A strong team will be dedicated to the project, and the post-development phase of the project will be closely monitored and evaluated. Participation of the students and teachers is to be ensured through the team.

IT Enabled Service for Digitization of Paper-Based Records with the RJSC
Just like every other organisation, The Office of The Registrar, Joint Stock Companies & Firms (RJSC), Ministry of Commerce, had traditionally filed hard copy paperwork for all the business registrations they recieved. Although they are alphabetically sorted and stored in the office of RJSC, at this point there are too many paper-based records, making it tough for RJSC to track different companies and relevant information as per immediate needs. Moreover, there’s a chance of losing precious data if the information continues to just be stored on paper. Furthermore, immediate search regarding a business is nearly impossible if all the data is not digitally backed up.
As a result it has become very crucial to digitize all of this data in order to make the operations faster and easier. Hence, keeping with the vision of Digital Bangladesh, the Government of Bangladesh has initiated the project of digitalizing the data of all paper-based records for RJSC. Moreover, to ensure that all new records filed are also digitized, the application and document submission procedure has also been shifted online. There was a time when the process of registering a joint-stock company or firm was dependent on physical visits to the Office of RJSC. Starting from getting the application to filing a submission to getting the final approval – the whole procedure used to be very time-consuming and tedious. Now however, aided by a recently developed website, the application process can be completed online, thus saving a lot of time both from the operational end and the service end for the applicants. This has increased the efficiency of administrative operations to a noticeable margin.

 

The Government of Bangladesh has developed 640 ICT Learning Centers (ILC) across Bangladesh. The core purpose of this project is to help develop ICT skills among the youth of Bangladesh.

 

Development of Madrasah Education and Management
Madrasah education curriculum has come a long way over the years. Along with the curriculum, madrasah students are now also encouraged to take part in different extracurricular activities. Because of the relentless efforts of the Ministry of Education, the activities of the students in madrasas are now beyond basic curriculum-based education. Students are nowadays more focused on different skill development activities.
Madrasah education has seen an upgrade in terms of education quality and overall management of the system. Ministry of Education has recently developed a software management system for micro-level management of madrasas. Internal process automation has helped the Madrasah Education Division with payroll management, recruitment records, human resource management, and much more. The development of the Madrasah Education Management and Information System (MEMIS) has automated the training procedures, institute management, and project management. Because of the use of technology, the system has come under a digital eco-system that is now well organized and can be monitored and developed centrally by the Madrasah Education Division.

ICT Learning Center (ILC)
The Government of Bangladesh has developed 640 ICT Learning Centers (ILC) across Bangladesh. The core purpose of this project is to help develop ICT skills among the youth of Bangladesh. Practical learning opportunities are provided at these facilities for college students. The learning materials are set according to the NCTB e-Learning materials so that the students can relate to textbook learnings well.
Furthermore, the government has also sanctioned the development of a monitoring dashboard that helps track the activity and progress of the learners and the trainers. It is now possible to send real-time feedback and updates to the ILCs, enabling the learner’s journey to be micro-monitored. The personnel of ILCs can directly report an issue or ask for help immediately via the ILC help desk – a web-based mobile application developed to make the communication procedure more dynamic with the stakeholders.

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