A Gateway to Better Teachers
Technology is changing the teaching methods around Bangladesh. A digital world surrounds us. We spend much of our time googling for answers. The days of face-to-face teacher-student lecture and rote are nearly over. These analogue methods also consume much time and money. It would take five or six years to train 1 million teachers for 120,000 primary and secondary schools in Bangladesh. The Teacher’s Portal (www.teachers.gov.bd) will, however, bring a change to all that.
This portal, one of the many a2i initiatives, is basically a user-friendly internet gateway to resources for teachers, as the name suggests... This was for the first time that teachers could share resources and opinions amongst themselves and thereby enriching each other with dynamic exchange of ideas. This portal even allows one teacher to use the digital content developed by another and thus creating the scope for unprecedented levels of synergy. Teachers can now create contentand share them on this platform with over 1,50,000 teachers who can then learn from this or give feedback for further improvement. Nothing close to this could have been even comprehensible even a few years ago.
Sikandar Ali Khan, an English teacher of Government Laboratory High School uses video clips for his lectures because he thinks, pupils remember better when have an image to with what they hear. Three out of every five technical trainers also believe that video tutorials make life easier.a2i has founded over 33,000 multimedia classrooms (MMCs) in secondary and primary schools to utilize the outputs of the Teacher’s Portal. Difficult and complex topics were thus turned into very interesting lessons with the digital content available on the portal. A specialised team of 45 best teachers along with experts from the textbook board and Teachers Training College, a2i and the education ministry jointly developed over 1,000 customizable model contents. An offline version of these contents has also been prepared and distributed because most remote schools do not have high speed internet facility.
Just to add a little incentive to get teachers to participate on this portal, it declares the best content developer every week and names three teachers around the country based on quality and online rating by peers. Nine out of ten best content developers are from rural areas which is rather encouraging since it has succeeded in bringing out the creativity of rural teachers. Four out of five teachers think this weekly recognition is very effective. They get inspired by the recognition. But it also motivates new members to join. Nearly half the members of the portal are female. Our female teachers often face many social restrictions on their mobility. But thanks to the portal, now they can take online training sitting at home. The portal also publishes an e-magazine Batayon Mag dwelling upon interesting issues.
Education is the most powerful weapon to change a country and this portal help us in that direction. We aim to get 350,000 teachers on this portal end of next year and 900,000 teachers by 2021.
* Sadman Shaid Saad is working as a freelance writer in a2i program