Young Bangla taking technologies to grassroots with Microsoft labs
Nurul Islam Hasib bdnews24.com
Published: 2017-02-02 22:51:29.0 BdST Updated: 2017-02-03 00:41:00.0 BdST
Learning basic computer skills would require Dipak Chandra Roy to spend Tk 4,500 and take a bumpy ride of 28 kilometers a year ago.
But things started to change in his village Koimari in northern Nilphamari district when Young Bangla, a platform of the non-profit-group Center for Research and Information (CRI), and software giant Microsoft Inc's Bangladesh chapter joined hands and installed a computer lab at the Upazila where the village is situated.
The tie-up has opened a new horizon for the local farmers who get information required for boosting their production.
“This is unbelievable. Now I can learn computer with almost one-third of the price I would have to pay. They (trainers) are highly trained from Dhaka,” Dipak, a final-year undergraduate student of Jaldhaka Degree College, told bdnews24.com.
Joy Bangla Youth Award
Keshab Chanrda Roy runs the lab under his organisation Youth Association for Cultural Development (YACD). He is known as a child marriage preventer in his village and for which he has received a UN award.
He also received the Joy Bangla Award, a flagship award of the Young Bangla that brings up and encourages youths, who work to change society, and helps them grow.
After he received the award, Young Bangla arranged more training for him and gave the Microsoft lab to him, apart from supporting him in his social work. The lab opened in June last year with six computers.
“I am getting tremendous response. So far, 40 youths have completed their six-month basic training from this lab,” he told bdnews24.com.
“Now I need even more computers. You know all students now want to learn computer. They have to study ICT in school, but the school does not have good trainers. So they all want to learn from us,” he said.
Six such labs have been set up in different rural parts of Bangladesh until now.
“Our aim is to provide at least 30 Joy Bangla youth awardees with such lab facilities so that they can spread the ICT education in remote villages,” Sabbir Bin Shams, Executive Director of CRI, which is the secretariat of Young Bangla, told bdnews24.com.
“All the awardees have their own success stories and their efforts have made a difference in their society. Now we envision a sustainable future for them -- where they can become self-reliant and change more lives”, he said.
Reaching technologies, empowering people
This lab initiative coincides with two other schemes under the Young Bangla-Microsoft partnership -- opportunity of internship and brand ambassadorship, and service engineering training.
Some 400 Young Bangla members received Microsoft Service Engineering Training during eight sessions in rural areas.
A series of workshops has also been held where trainers from Microsoft Bangladesh provided basic operating skills free of cost.
The training focussed on basic computing skills, along with the necessary operating skills and lessons, on solutions to some frequently occurring problem.
“Our aim is to reach the technologies to the grassroots and empower people,” Microsoft Bangladesh’s Managing Director Sonia Bashir Kabir told bdnews24.com.
“We’ll get experience from those initial six labs and find out where to invest further and how to make more labs in future with Young Bangla,” she said.
Under the partnership that began in 2015, Microsoft has now about 400 brand ambassadors and interns who are being taught how to prepare a business plan.
“The best performing interns will be sent to the 2017 global Imagine Cup competition,” the MD said.
A platform for youths, Young Bangla, launched on Nov 12, 2014, has rolled out an array of initiatives to identify, showcase and recognise the young change-makers and give them a platform to work further to help the government achieve its ‘Vision 2021’- making Bangladesh a higher middle income country.
It has also created internship opportunities for students in three ministries – foreign affairs, power, and ICT.
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