EDUCATION DURING A PANDEMIC: A feasibility study of online classes in Bangladesh to counteract potential study gaps caused by COVID-19 related lockdowns

The universities of Bangladesh used to suffer greatly from the so-called 'session jams' but most public and private universities overcome those difficulties and have mostly eliminated the session jams. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak and resulting lockdown, students are at risk of losing months or in certain cases missing sessions in the next step in their education. The situation is so dire that UNESCO has called it a worldwide unprecedented education emergency. Universities in Bangladesh and the university students in Bangladesh are also facing the same emergency. Online learning can be a potential solution to this problem. Such online learning requires facilities and infrastructure at the universities, a robust data infrastructure at the national level, and adequate computing devices and sufficient and affordable data services for the students. However, very little concrete data exists to understand whether the universities and the students have the technical and financial means to make such online classes effective and successful. This study is one of the first in Bangladesh that attempts to gauge the need and readiness of various stakeholders to implement successful fully online education. This paper suggests a process for measuring the readiness. The results can give the policymakers ideas on areas of improvement and may assist universities to launch fully online classes that will be accessible and affordable by students during and beyond the COVID-19 lockdown phase.
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