We must embrace online education
The way education is disseminated has changed drastically this past year. No longer are physical classrooms considered an absolute necessity for a university course to be conducted -- now it can all be online.
Of course, the technology for this was already there long before the pandemic hit us, but Covid-19 accelerated this change, and now, there is no going back to the pre-pandemic normal. We must embrace online education, because it is here to stay.
There are, however, deep problems. Bangladesh still has a long way to go when it comes to internet access, and households without an internet connection cannot be expected to benefit from online education.
It must be acknowledged that there is a digital divide in this nation. For example, in spite of the omnipresence of mobile phones even in rural areas of the country, vast swathes of the population do not own or know how to use smartphones. Many do not have internet connections at home. There is also a lack of basic computer literacy.
These are the areas the government should work on in the days to come. Digital education should be a large part of the Digital Bangladesh vision. Even though Digital Bangladesh was announced back in 2008, it was in 2020 that we became clearer on its implications. Indeed, we no longer have a choice but to go digital. Even if a vaccine roll-out happens soon and social distancing becomes a thing of the past, the new normal in education, ie, virtual classrooms and online coursework, may largely remain. Let us make sure we keep up with the pace of change, and with the requirement of the times.