Tuesday, June 25, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

The imperative of a hybrid education system

Once again, forces beyond our control demand the permanence of online learning

Update : 30 Apr 2024, 09:34 AM

The Covid-19 pandemic has shown the significance of establishing a robust infrastructure to support online education. Educational systems in developing nations were significantly impacted by the destructive effects of Covid-19, while developed countries were able to mitigate the damage due with a streamlined implementation of online-based teaching and learning throughout all educational levels. The ongoing heat waves have once again presented us with a predicament over whether educational institutions should conduct their teaching online in order to protect students from the adverse effects of the heat waves.

Due to the continuous heatwaves, some universities have chosen to exclusively conduct their teaching through online platforms, while others have made the decision to offer a combination of in-person and online classes. The government had planned to close educational establishments at the primary, secondary, and higher secondary levels for a week. However, in fear of the potential negative impact on students, the ministry officials were compelled to discontinue online teaching at those levels due to inadequate infrastructure, lack of availability of android phones and laptops, uninterrupted electricity and internet access, and the guardians' inability to afford the expenses of the internet. 

These are harsh realities within a country like Bangladesh. While the government has set a vision of establishing a digital Bangladesh, we have not fully used the opportunities it offers. The government has implemented e-governance in the majority of service delivery systems with the aim of establishing a Smart Bangladesh. Nevertheless, we are falling behind in enhancing the capabilities of both the service suppliers and the service receivers. Consequently, policymakers have challenges when making the decision to transition instruction to an online format under unexpected situations.

Climate change has had an influence on nearly all countries worldwide. The experience of severe cold and hot temperatures in winter and summer, which were not previously anticipated, can be attributed to climate change. Hence, we must equip ourselves to confront the adversities posed by severe climatic conditions. We may even encounter more challenging circumstances in the days ahead. In order to protect ourselves from harsh weather conditions, we must maintain our regular routines in educational institutions. Otherwise, our ability to compete with others will be compromised. 

We are falling behind in enhancing the capabilities of both the service suppliers and the service receivers

Hence, it is crucial for the Ministry of Education to promptly prioritize a hybrid education system and adapt to the evolving landscape. To revolutionize our education system, we must provide the necessary infrastructure for online instruction. Subsequently, we must enhance the abilities of both teachers and students to effectively acclimate to this. The plight of economically disadvantaged students, who lack the means to purchase necessary equipment and cover internet expenses, must be given careful consideration. Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, the government offered several forms of assistance to students who were in need. The magnitude of the help must be augmented.

In addition to the development of infrastructure, it is necessary to enhance the capability of both students and teachers. At the university level, there exists a substantial cohort of teachers who lack proficiency in computer skills. Consequently, they have a preference for in-person classes rather than online programs. Conversely, as a result of inadequate internet access and uninterrupted electricity supply, several students were unable to participate in online classes. And so, the task of delivering interactive learning has grown challenging. 

Nevertheless, the majority of private universities successfully transitioned their teaching to an online format during the Covid-19 pandemic, which mitigated the risk of students experiencing delays in their academic progress. In the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, some universities have implemented hybrid systems that integrate both in-person and online classes, even in non-pandemic times. This approach has facilitated uninterrupted education for students in the current climate. 

Therefore, given the severity of the weather and the recurring consequences of climate change, the relevant authorities must recognize the need to implement a hybrid system that combines both physical and online teaching and learning environments as a regular routine. This transformation would not only enhance the progress of our education, but also enable us to effectively navigate unforeseen scenarios, empowering us to overcome any crisis. 

The Ministry of Education needs the unwavering commitment of all stakeholders involved in the education system to achieve this transition. We have no choice but to choose the implementation of a high-quality education system with a hybrid method of teaching and learning. 

Dr Pranab Kumar Panday is a Professor in the Department of Public Administration at the University of Rajshahi, Bangladesh.

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