The Online School was showcased on the ITU Deputy Secretary General’s tour to better understand how mobile operators are making a difference in Bangladesh.
On May 25, 2012, Deputy Secretary General Houlin Zhao of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) visited a school in Tongi, Bangladesh. This school is a participant in a pilot project run by Grameenphone and Jaago Foundation called “Online School”. Online School allows teachers who are not physically present to teach live via video conference.
Zhao watched as a teacher was projected on a screen and consumed the attention of 40 students between age four to six. After just a few minutes, the students were swaying away with their virtual teacher, singing different Bangla and English nursery rhymes. Zhao expressed amazement at what Grameenphone and Jaago Foundation had achieved with their first Online School in Bangladesh. The Online school currently has a total of 76 students, divided in two groups.
Unique yet simple
“I have travelled throughout the world, however, I have never seen such an educational initiative anywhere,” said Houlin Zhao.
The concept of “Online School” is very simple. A teacher conducts a class from a distant location using video conferencing technology and at the local level there are moderators who help the teacher with logistics. These moderators are from the local community and have no previous teaching experience.
Ensuring quality education for rural children
This ground-breaking initiative aims to assure quality education for underprivileged students who live in rural areas and are unable to go to school. In addition, the Online School promotes teacher development, as the classroom moderators gain the necessary experience to someday teach these classes independently.
“This initiative shows how telecommunications can make a real difference. It is a very good example of Telenor’s strategy to enable, in which we base our corporate responsibility projects on our core competence. By working with partners we can create social benefits based on our technology and know-how, such as the Online School in Tongi,” said Sidsela Nyebak, Project Manager for Corporate Responsibility, Telenor Group.
Online School success
In an early measure of the Online School’s success, grades of the online school students were compared with two demographically similar but non-virtual schools. The performance of the students is comparable, indicating that the students are meeting their targets, despite their distance education.
A step towards delivering quality education to the underprivileged
“Ensuring quality education to underprivileged children is a challenging job in Bangladesh. Through Online School we are exploring a new way of educating underprivileged children. If it proves successful, this could be a model can be used across Bangladesh and beyond, to ensure that even rural children receive quality education,” said Kazi Monirul Kabir, Chief Communications Officer, Grameenphone.