More than 80 per cent undergrad-level students have faced difficulties in participating in online classes during the Covid-19 pandemic, a latest study has found.
The study, conducted by Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), says access to internet or poor connectivity was the most challenging part, according to 54 per cent of surveyed students.
The state-run research agency conducted the survey on National University (NU) students from February to June this year.
The main objective of the survey styled ‘Tracer Study on Graduates of Tertiary-Level Colleges’ was to trace the undergrads from a sample of NU affiliated tertiary colleges.
The study aims to assess the labour market outcome and relevance of tertiary college-level education.
The cost of internet usage came up as another difficulty, as reported by nearly 18.7 per cent of total students, it has found.
Unavailability of devices, lack of convenient ambience to study, disruption in study due to high involvement with family chores/matters, inadequate office hours with teachers, and less participatory classes are the other difficulties faced by the students in attending online classes, it also revealed.
The students from non-government colleges seem to be more devoted in terms of longer duration when it comes to class attendance compared to students from government colleges, as per the study.
Talking to The Financial Express, Dr Minhaj Mahmud, who led the six-member research team and also senior research fellow at the BIDS, said the policy focus towards facilitating digital education using technology to connect teaching and learning would be crucial in the post-pandemic period.
The country’s universities and tertiary level colleges need to embrace digital solutions in education and learning as the use of open educational resources becomes increasingly important in facilitating education worldwide that embrace the global transformation using the online-based platform, he pointed out.
On January 19, 2021, a survey conducted by Campaign for Popular Education (CAMPE), also revealed nearly 69.5 per cent of the primary and secondary students in Bangladesh did not attend distance learning classes through television, radio and the internet during the Covid-19 pandemic.
About 57.9 per cent of students were unable to join the distance learning programme due to lack of computers and other necessary apparatus. Such a rate stood at 68.9 per cent in the rural areas, the CAMPE study added.
BioTED, a platform, which promotes skills and ideas for research and innovation, in a short survey last year revealed that nearly 44.7 per cent of the university students were unable to take part in virtual classes due to lack of logistics.
To continue online education, some 55 per cent of such students lacked support to avail proper internet connections at that time, the survey added.
On November 18, 2020, Education Minister Dipu Moni, at a virtual meeting with the representatives of the United Nations (UN), said nearly 10 per cent of students could not participate in online education amid the pandemic situation.
On May 29, 2020, in another webinar, Dipu Moni also claimed that Bangladesh gained a huge advancement in digitalisation.
The minister, however, insisted that public universities were still unable to digitalise fully.
Our country faced some challenges to introduce online education during the pandemic, but it has to overcome those hurdles, she added.
The BIDS study also said participation in online classes increased the total cost of internet usage.
Seventy per cent of total respondents said that they need to pay additional expenses for using the internet to participate in online classes compared to the pre-pandemic or no-online-teaching situation.
Around 78 per cent of total respondents stated that they would continue studies with the usual course load while around 20 per cent of total students were found to be uncertain about continuing studies, the state-run research agency finds.
The survey consists of students who graduated (Degree/ Honours/Masters programmes) in the year 2017 and students (Degree /Honours/Masters programmes) currently studying at the third-fourth year.
Dr Minhaj also mentioned that educational institutes need to collaborate with private sectors and digital industries to enhance the student experience and learning,
Like major private universities in the country, the colleges under the national universities should embrace the digital transformation to offer competitive education in developing the skilled-manpower needed for the country, he added.