How a research platform is rethinking education against the backdrop of the global pandemic
'Haate Niye Alokbortika' is a- education research and discussion initiative which developed the Education Practices manual during Covid-19 intending the learning from those practices to be implemented in post pandemic Bangladesh. The six-part discussion on education invites concerned faculty and policy makers from all walks of life, including Bengali, English and Madrasa, on the same platform to discuss current and future activities, experiences and practices, to highlight what is being done, and to learn about the practices and challenges of the pandemic period from frontline educators, teachers, and education policy makers as a stepping stone to the next level. Haate Niye was supported by several educational platforms: Kishor Alo as strategic partner, Light of Hope Centre as technical partner, Shopno Niye magazine as youth engagement partner and Bangladesh Youth Leadership Centre as knowledge partner.
Meet the initiators
From an early age, Munia Islam Mozumder was actively involved in debate, discourse and advocacy. Rising to leadership positions in the debate clubs at her alma maters Viqarunnissa School, and Jahangirnagar University, she has also flown her country’s colours abroad as a youth ambassador.
Munia quickly realized that although she was a student of medicine, her true calling lay in teaching. She started her career with a two year stint at a government primary school as a Teach for Bangladesh fellow. Going on to pursue a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Brac University, she became one of the country’s first kumon instructors, finding innovative and engaging teaching methods to help children overcome their fear of math. She also completed training on a linguistic approach to English teaching in Vietnam. In 2020, she joined DanChurchAid as Education Coordinator to implement their Education in Emergency programme in the Rohingya refugee camp. With the outbreak of Covid-19 she found herself uniquely positioned and precisely equipped to implement educational protocols during a pandemic.
Tasnim Afroze Tora spend her childhood loading the shelves at home with prizes for all her stellar science fair projects. Fresh out of business school at North South University, she began a two-year fellowship with Teach for Bangladesh which gave her hands on experience of how the education system worked at the pre-primary and primary levels; particularly the needs and drawbacks of marginalized communities. She also went on to pursue a post-graduate degree in Educational Leadership and Whole School Improvement from the BRAC Institute of Education, and represented Bangladesh at a number of prestigious global summits facilitated by Teach for All.
Providing training to future generations of Teach for Bangladesh fellows, she also works as an instructor and center in-charge at BRAC Kumon Limited, and is in the process of developing a 'Safe Space' to promote women's and child protection, sexual and reproductive health and rights awareness, women's and child abuse, anti-child marriage, and women's and children's empowerment.
It hardly needs to be said that the outbreak of Covid-19 has wreaked havoc on the education sector, resulting in a spike in dropout rates, uncertainties about the employability of teachers, and adaptation to the new normal of education is a conundrum that has puzzled parents, teachers, researchers, and policy makers alike.
What are the thoughts or plans of the government or policy makers with regards to the current system? What does the data say? What measures are being taken to keep students involved and engaged? What about children with special needs? How will technology be integrated into the mix? All these questions are discussed objectively and structurally in the six episodes of "Hate Niye Alokbortika".
Each episode is arranged with several thoughts in mind. In the pilot episode, the distance education activities of Bangladesh, public-private programs, initiatives, practices and effects are discussed. This episode featured Additional Secretary, Bangladesh Education Ministry, Mominur Rashid Amin; Head- Future of Learning, A2i, Afzal Hossain Sarwar, Md. Kamal Hossain, Education Adviser- Save The Children,, and Waliullah Bhuiyan, CEO of Light of Hope. Covid 19 will affect the education of many children who may never be able to go to school again.
The second episode dealt with the plan for re-inclusion of storm-hit children and ensuring the availability of technical education at the marginal level. The panelists included Iqbal Hossain, Education Specialist- UNICEF, Tony Michael Gomes, Director- World Vision Bangladesh, K.M Enamul Hoque, Deputy Director- CAMPE.
The education system of Bangladesh has three streams: Bengali medium, English medium, English version and Madrasa system. There is also a separate education board in our country called Technical Education Board. The third episode was arranged with representatives of all these educational mediums and was accompanied by UNESCO as it is the only UN agency committed to leading the overall aspect of education in all stages of education from pre-primary to higher education worldwide. The panelists were Mohammad Aminur Rahman Khan, Vice Principal of Rajuk Uttara Model College, M Shahidul Islam, Program Officer- UNESCO, Md. Abdul Mukit, Assistant Director- Madrassa Directorate of Bangladesh, Shatila Reza, Head of Primary- The Aga Khan School.
What were the educational activities of children with special needs like in Corona or how did the cultural schools say? Shah Shamim Ahmed, Chairman and Associate Professor, Educational Evaluation & Research, IER- Dhaka University, Ashok Kumar Chakma, Director- Monoghor Residential School, Rangamati, Afroza Sultana, Vice Principal- Proyash Institute of Special Education and Tamanna Shetu, Director- Baatighor Shangskritik Biddaloy, spoke about conducting specialized educational activities, ensuring safety and ensuring inclusion during the pandemic in the fourth episode.
Dr. Mohammad Monowar Hossain, Professor, Department of Zoology, JU, Dr. Farhana Helal Mahtab, Professor, Department of Law, Associate Dean, School of Humanities and Social Science, DIU, Dr. Imtiaz Ahmed, Professor, IR- DU, Director, Center for Genocide Studies, DU, GM Rakibul Islam, Lecturer, Noakhali Institute of Science and Technology analyzed the nature of university level teaching and research practices, learning methods and adaptations in Bangladesh during Covid-19 in the fifth episode.
The concluding discussion was absolutely directional. The negotiators talked about outlining the future of education in Bangladesh by eliminating the inclusion and division of technology in the education system. Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni highlighted the steps taken by the government to keep the light of education bright in Bangladesh during the pandemic, the appropriate steps and availability of technology in the overall education program, planning and implementation of the vision of future education system. BRAC education program director Shafiqul Islam analyzed the nature of future education in Bangladesh in the light of his long experience in the field of education. Physician and media personality, Abdun Noor Tushar led the discussion on the importance of debate in intellectual development, based on his decades of work in the field. From a physician's point of view he talked about plans and subsequent curriculum development for education and mental development skills during Covid-19. Ijaz Ahmed, founder and president of the Bangladesh Youth Leadership Center, said that youth can be involved in education and economics through new adaptations and skills development.