WSIS – School Program in Bangladesh

SDNP School Program in Bangladesh

Objective: To assist the SDNP (Sustainable Development Networking Programme) School Programme of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) for extending computer education at school level and develop skilled human resources that would gradually lead to Bangladesh’s competitiveness in the global ICT sector.

Background: SDNP has successfully distributed 120 computers (from the first consignment of 400 computers in 2002), and 28 computers (from the second consignment of 200 computers in 2003) donated by the World Computer Exchange (WCE) in Bangladeshi schools since 2002. This initiative has provided basic hands on training on fundamental of computer applications to thousands of students in rural areas of Bangladesh. The schools were selected as per the selection criteria given by the WCE.

During the first shipment, the partners were:

WCE (World Computers Exchange): they provided the donated computers;
· UNDP (United Nations Development Programme): they provided partial funding and necessary logistic support to bring the computers in Bangladesh as the Consignee;
· USAID (United States Agency for International Development): they provided major funding for the programme to support the administrative costs at WCE;
· FED (Foundation for Education and Development): they provided the role of the lead NGO, handled the currency transfer, support to other NGO partners of FED. With Google you find many foundation with education and development in the name, I have choosen here this one;
· ISOC (Internet Society) Bangladesh Chapter: they provided support in selecting a few local schools;
· ICMS (Institute of Computer Management and Science): they provided free training to the teachers of the selected school; and
· SDNP (Sustainable Development Networking Programme of Bangladesh) they selected the schools as per the selection criteria, provided technical assistance, and distributed the donated computers to the selected schools.

In the first consignment, among the 400 PCs, 200 were given to SDNP and from that 120 were distributed to 68 schools. In the second consignment 200 computers were brought under the direct guidance of FED with funding support from USAID. From the second consignment, about 28 computers were received by SDNP.

In the first consignment, SDNP selected schools paid a lump sum of BDT3000.00 (Taka three thousand) only to cover local expenses, and all the amount were directly submitted to FED, who handled the financial transactions. Similarly, an amount of BDT 4700.00 (Taka four thousand and five hundred) only were being paid by the schools to FED for each computer in the second consignment.

For the third consignment, with total financial support from USAID, an amount of BDT1500.00 (Taka one thousand and five hundred) only for each computer is being requested and collected through SDNP to cover local logistic supports. UNDP Bangladesh being the consignee provided all necessary logistic supports in bringing the computers in Bangladesh. Among other partners, ICMS is providing free training to the teachers. The training of teachers has been launched in phases from August 20, 2005 and till date about 30 schools has obtained computers from the third consignment.

Role of each partner:

The World Computer Exchange, Inc. (WCE) of USA, which works for bridging the digital divide for youth, collects donated computer in the USA and distributes them to the third world countries.

USAID Bangladesh has active interest in promoting the Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector in the country. Several studies (e.g. Information Technology Enabled Services Sector study sponsored by USAID Bangladesh) clearly identified the lack of skilled human resources is a critical factor for the growth of ICT sector. This type of initiative is the right kind of step that will widen computer education at rural level.

UNDP Bangladesh as the Consignee eased up the processes of bringing in used and donated computers in Bangladesh, and SDNP as a UNDP funded project has find it as extremely valuable to carry out its mandate for sustainable development in the country.

At the same time, being a project under the SEMP (Sustainable Environment Management Programme), this programme obtained necessary administrative assistance from the government authority.

ICMS is providing necessary training to the teachers at free of costs throughout the whole programme.

SDNP is selecting the schools as per the selection criteria of WCE, distributing the computers as per the implementation plan, providing necessary technical assistance to each school including the lead schools, that have been established to support the local schools.

Partnership approach:

SDNP has signed a separate MoU with Schools Online programme of Relief International ( http://www.connect-bangladesh.org ) for running partnership programmes of similar interests, and under this MoU one of the South-West lead school in Jessore has been upgraded to Internet Learning Center.

Future perspectives:

SDNP is looking forward to establish Internet connectivity to each available school under this programme, so that they can avail the content service from SDNP’s different servers located throughout the country (Dhaka, Mymensingh, Cox’s Bazar, Satkhira, and Dinajpur), including the multipurpose village information centres’s support run by SDNP. Utilization of the available information backbone for telemedicine, environmental protection, disaster management, and e-learning at school level would be the future focus of this programme.
Hakikur Rahman, Project Coordinator, SDNP Bangladesh.

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