NU authorities submitted the letter to the UGC on Monday
National University (NU) has placed a demand of Tk600 crore from the government to develop its IT (information technology) infrastructure to reduce digital inequality and ensure quality-based online education during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
“We have submitted a letter in this regard to the University Grants Commission (UGC),” NU Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Harun-ur-Rashid told Dhaka Tribune.
NU authorities submitted the letter to the UGC on Monday.
Earlier, the UGC had asked VCs of all government universities to inform of their requirements to overcome the present shortcomings, by Wednesday this week.
“If we want to ensure quality-based education and the engagement of all students and teachers online, then we need to develop our IT infrastructure and ensure training of the teachers. Digital classrooms are also necessary,” said Prof Dr Harun-ur-Rashid.
“Although, we cannot ensure 100% attendance, attentiveness and dedication of students like in traditional classrooms, it is essential to provide the necessary equipment to teachers, students and institutions to enable them to utilize the digital platform properly,” he added.
Mentioning that ICT has been playing a key role in the education sector, the NU VC also added: “Such an ICT-based system can help reduce the ‘digital divide’ and pave the way for further economic growth in our country.”
VC Prof Harun-ur-Rashid said: “Therefore, being the largest education provider in the country with over 2,300 affiliated colleges, National University should establish an ICT-based Teaching-Learning platform for its affiliated institutions.”
In line with the vision, NU authorities demanded three basic infrastructural platforms – Cloud Computing Infrastructure Development and Teaching-learning platform, Data Connectivity, and Training.
Firstly, the cloud computing infrastructure will cover all affiliated colleges (over 2,300) and include G Suite for education (Gmail, Google meet, chat, etc) for more than 2.9 million students and 60,000 teachers, and Moodle-based learning management system (LMS).
Secondly, for data connectivity, the university said a minimum 20Mbps point-to-point data connectivity between each college and NU Data Centre with integrated network monitoring software will be required. At the same time, networking equipment for NU and affiliated colleges together with LAN integration with 10Mbps internet connectivity and Network Management System (NMS) will also be required.
Thirdly, G Suite for education and LMS for training all institutions and its teachers, and materials (video tutorial development, training material development, etc) for training students.
Tk600 crore to reduce ‘digital inequality’
As per the proposal, NU authorities have demanded Tk425 crore for cloud computing infrastructure development and teaching-learning platform, Tk150 crore for data connectivity among affiliated colleges for three years and Tk25 crore for training purposes.
“Without urgent financial support for IT infrastructure system development, we cannot run the online education programs properly,” VC Prof Harun-ur-Rashid added.
Earlier, UGC Chairman Prof Kazi Shahidullah told Dhaka Tribune that UGC will consider the demands and issues of universities with help from the Education Ministry.
UGC member Prof Dil Afroza Begum said: “We have sought information from them so that we can analyse and come up with an estimated cost of developing such digital platforms for continuing education in such pandemic situations.”
Meanwhile, Association of Private Universities of Bangladesh (APUB) has also called for an incentive package from the government to pay its employees after suffering losses from the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are yet to receive any response from the government, '' APUB Chairman Sheikh Kabir Hossain told the Dhaka Tribune.