05 April 2011, Dhaka. “What the textbooks cannot explain properly, the videos can. The videos matching with the textbook contents clarify questions that are raised while reading the books. Various scientific phenomenons are visually displayed and the animations make learning a lot easier for me and my classmates.” These were the words of a young and confident Kothamoni, a seventh grade female student from Rashid Daohata High School, on the positive impact of the use of interactive videos for Computer-Aided Learning at her school.
On April 3, 2011, BRAC launched two interactive educational CDs for General Science and General Math for high school education in Bangladesh. These were the very first CDs that have been launched under the Computer-Aided Learning (CAL) programme of BRAC. Along with Kothamoni, the CAL programme is aimed at making learning interactive, fun and easy for students across Bangladesh. Funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the CAL programme is growing progressively in various districts and sub-districts across the nation.
The Computer-Aided Learning Programme (CAL), one of BRAC’s post primary education initiatives, is an endeavor to make the textbook contents easier, interactive and stimulating. BRAC had first introduced CAL in 2007. The Post Primary Basic and Continuing Education (PACE) unit of BRAC’s Education Programme (BEP) had started this programme using computer as a tool for teaching. In 2007-08 PACE piloted this programme in seven schools of Mirzapur, Tangail equipping these schools with computers and multimedia. Recently, the programme has been expanded to fifteen schools in five districts (Comilla, Gazipur, Bogra, Hobiganj and Gopalganj).
The main objective of CAL is to move away from the teacher-centered classroom environment to a more interactive and engaging one. It also ensures conceptual clarity and better application of learning materials and aims to increase the teachers’ understanding of the lessons. CAL is an attempt to create self learning provision for both teachers and students and to familiarise the rural students and teachers with the modern computer technology. CAL provides multimedia classroom with power backup and offers training to the teachers and students on usage of Information and Communications Technology (ICT). It provides e-content that can be used in the classrooms, and also the e-content at BRAC initiated community libraries (Gonokendro).
Speakers at the event commented that CAL would help our education system get rid of the memorisation culture, which is in direct conflict with creative learning. They also remarked that by making science and technology easier to grasp through its easy and interactive teaching techniques, CAL will help Bangladesh meet the challenges of the 21st century better. It is also expected to reduce the school dropout rate, given that it will attract students to the easy and enjoyable form of learning.
The CDs were launched at the end of the event by Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, the Founder and Chairperson of BRAC. Sir Abed said that the launching of the first interactive, educational CDs was a long-awaited venture and it is going to be a key element in Bangladesh’s education system. However, he said that it is an initial step; the ultimate goal would be to convert the entire curriculum of Bangladesh to CDs and websites that can be accessed by teachers and students all over the country at their convenience. Only then, Sir Abed said, can the country reach its goal of becoming a digital Bangladesh. Finally, Sir Abed added that BRAC is helping the government to achieve the desired goals of education in Bangladesh; it is not working as a counterpart. The Executive Director of BRAC, Dr. Mahabub Hossain, added that BRAC would hold no proprietary rights of the CDs launched so that more and more copies of the CDs can be made and spread nationwide.
The Mathematics CD launched contains 31 lessons on 22 math concepts of the national textbooks of grades VI to X, while the Science CD contained all lessons of the national textbook of grade VI. Another interactive CD for high school English under the CAL programme will be launched very soon. These CDs will be available at all Aarong outlets, BRAC Education area level offices, and BRAC Training & Resource Centres.