News 2014

Education, Technology and Women: Key Issues for Development policy seminar held in Dhaka

The British Council and English in Action have jointly organised a two day seminar on “Education, Technology and Women: Key Issues for Development”.  The policy seminar held on 16-17 September 2014, offered a timely platform to discuss and influence policy agendas surrounding education and technology and their access by women in Bangladesh and around the world.

 The policy seminar’s goal was to inform and influence policies across Bangladesh, taking lessons from national and international experiences.

One of the key messages from the seminar emphasised the role of innovative and cost-effective technology to aid quality education initiatives for all learners in Bangladesh. Challenges around the infrastructure development were discussed along with the importance of private and public sector partnership to solve these.

The chief guest of the concluding session, Mr. Nurul Islam Nahid, Hon’ble Education Minister, discussed and shared with the participants, Bangladesh Government’s vision for a fully inclusive and technologically advanced country.

Speaking at the opening, British High Commissioner Robert W Gibson said, “The UK government hopes that the participants at this policy seminar will work together for the benefit of women in Bangladesh and around the world, sharing experiences, insights and understanding to develop clear, practical recommendations that will inform future work through educational technology.  I believe with the expertise in this room we can identify the issues that need immediate attention across this crucial agenda.”

In his opening remarks, Professor A K Azad Chowdhury, Chairman, University Grants Commission, cited Bangladesh as an example for the positive impact of education, technology and empowerment of women. “Let us hope that through this seminar we can recognise what the government has done and also ensure quality education, access to technology, and empowering women is made a priority to be taken forward. A nation can reach new heights through these and as a country we are already an example in this revolution.”

English in Action Team Leader, Dr. Johan Bentinck, and the British Council Country Director, Mr. Brendan McSharry, opened the first session of the seminar with welcome addresses, which focused both on the need and potential for development through education, technology and giving access and opportunity to women in these arenas.

“This policy seminar is very timely. At the time of great economic growth, women are still not realizing their full potential as economic and social development agents.  This seminar that the BC and the DFID project English in Action are organizing, will explore the key issues for development and say how we can add $18bn dollars to the economy if women get quality access to skills training and awareness both with regard to digital technology and to better English language tuition.  Then Bangladesh can become a solid middle income country years before the target date of 2021. We owe it to the whole nation to facilitate full and equal access to technology and English communication skills.” Stated the British Council Country Director.

Dr. Johan Bentinck, English in Action- Team Leader, informed the participants that, there is great interest and investment in Educational Technology, as a tool to improve teaching and learning, with the potential to bring quality learning opportunities to school communities and to women, who may be marginalised. This policy seminar brings together representatives from Bangladesh and internationally, to discuss the challenges of realising this potential, and examples of successful programmes and approaches.

The Access to Information (a2i) Programme Policy Advisor and leading advocate for Digital Bangladesh, Mr. Anir Chowdhury, in his keynote presentation shared the success of digital revolution in Bangladesh despite many challenges. Under a2i’s guidance and support, the Ministry of Education has established Multimedia Classroom (MMC) in 20,500 secondary schools where teaching-learning is being made more enjoyable and participatory by the use of digital materials in the classrooms.

Government officials, donor representatives, academics, journalists, practitioners and other national and international stakeholders were present in this two-day seminar.

Tom Power, Programme Director, English in Action, the Open University, UK, Dr. Gary Motteram, University of Manchester, and gender specialist, Ms. Ronda Zelezny-Green delivered key note presentations in the seminar.

 Updated 28 September, 2014

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English in Action programme is a UK Government
funded programme implemented by the
Government of Bangladesh and managed by
Cambridge Education, a member of Mott MacDonald.