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Smart teachers for Smart Bangladesh

Date: 7 February, 2023

Source : Dhaka Tribune

Reading Time: 5 Minutes

7 February, 2023 ·
Source : Dhaka Tribune
· Reading Time: 5 Minutes

Smart teachers for Smart Bangladesh

Smart teachers for Smart Bangladesh

To build a Smart Bangladesh by 2041, the first need is smart citizens. Realizing our demographic dividend, the government has introduced a competency-based curriculum aiming to prepare the learners for the future. In other words, make them “smart” and become problem solvers — in their personal, social, and global contexts.

However, the successful implementation of the new curriculum is highly dependent on the teachers’ capacity, adaptability, and mindset to transform their daily practices — with more experiential, project-based, and formative assessment-based approaches.

Bangladesh has approximately 1 million teachers at all school levels — a number more than the population of many countries. Reaching out to all these teachers, in person, is nearly impossible considering the overhead cost, time, and human resources required. Earlier evidence shows that the lack of teachers’ preparedness, capacity, and in-school resources has led to teachers struggling to renew their classroom practices.

The emergence of 4IR technologies and the disruptions caused by Covid-19 have had a silver lining — we have realized the potential of ICT and the merits of blended or hybrid modalities in the education system across all verticals.

Considering the inefficiency of cascaded training, the Ministry of Education introduced blended approaches in teacher training and launched the “New Curriculum Framework 2021 Online Training” in the MuktoPaath e-learning platform — as part of a year-long curriculum dissemination program.

Furthermore, all relevant directorates have issued mandates for teachers at the secondary, madrasah, technical, and primary levels to complete the course as a prerequisite for in-person training taking place from the beginning of 2023.

Over the past four months, an incredible total of 350,000 teachers have completed the multi-hour-long orientation phase and more than 480,000 completed the 13 subject-based phases offered to teachers initially of grades six and seven.

However, it has been disappointing to see that there were many negative reports about the limited duration and efficiency of the training. Of course, it is well acknowledged that online courses have limitations in terms of peer engagement and interactions.

But in this context, the training has provided self-paced learning and lifelong access to training content for the teachers — the courses will remain accessible even after the deadlines. Added to the later in-person sessions, teachers would understand the revised curriculum better and develop their capabilities to incorporate transformative approaches in their classrooms.

The National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB) with technical assistance from Unicef and the government’s a2i (Aspire to Innovate) program produced the audio-visual course content in the form of story-telling and conversations between teachers to engage them better. In fact, there are supplementary references and in-built quizzes to assess their performances as well as certifications upon completion.

The training dissemination can also be monitored at scale using the real-time dashboard which allows officials from the directorates to follow up with responsible field officials in case the training has not been completed within the due time.

Officials reported, quite contrary to our perceptions, in Chittagong Hill Tracts, Sylhet, and the haor areas, that more teachers have completed the courses compared to the urban areas. This is solid proof that the power of technology can lift the physical barriers and increase access when it comes to capacity building of our teachers.

Ms Selina, an assistant teacher from Comilla, said: “My teaching experience has evolved remarkably over the past few years, from giving after-school tutoring to being involved in the efforts of reforming our education system. I’m thankful to the authorities for the opportunity to partake in training. I assure my continued support for the improvement of my own and neighbouring institutions, students and the betterment of my peers.”

We must remember that this unprecedented task — of training teachers nationwide within this amount of time — has never been done before at such a scale, proving Bangladesh’s efforts in enhancing its education and making its core functions readily available for all.

This is just the beginning, and there remain areas we must work on, and research scopes to conduct a proper comparative analysis and truly understand how effective the training has been.

However, overall, there is reason for hope — hope that the preparation of smart teachers in developing smart citizens will take us closer to our ultimate goal of building Smart Bangladesh by 2041.

Mehdi Hassan is e-learning Associate, a2i. Zunaira Khan is a Young Professional, a2i.

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