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How a simple technological solution can be expanded from a classroom to a whole country

The JAAGO Foundation, which offers quality online and traditional classroom learning throughout Bangladesh, was awarded the 2016 UNESCO King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa Prize.

Started in 2007, Jaago Foundation (JAAGO means ‘wake-up’ in Bangladeshi) reaches underprivileged children in rural areas of Bangladesh through the Online School programme that provides learners with high-quality courses through interactive video-conferencing. Instruction, covering English, Bengali, and mathematics, as well as natural and social sciences, is delivered by highly trained teachers based in the capital of Bangladesh. With now 3,000 students and approximately 15,000 indirect beneficiaries, Jaago Foundation aims to help bridge the educational quality gap between urban and rural students in Bangladesh.

Korvi Rakshand, founder of the initiative, tells UNESCO how the foundation is doing since receiving the award in 2016 and its plans for the future.

Almost three years after winning the Prize, could you tell us how it has impacted you and your work?
JAAGO has been working for the betterment of the underprivileged children of Bangladesh for the last 11 years. After being recognized by the UNESCO King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa Prize, we received a huge amount of both national and international exposure. It opened a pathway for us to present JAAGO in many international platforms and helped us to get introduced with the world. Now people overseas know about JAAGO and our work. It is an honor for JAAGO that now a lot of people are thinking about implementing our online school system in their community. Thus, the reorganization definitely helped us a lot.

Could you give us an example of how winning the Prize made a difference for a particular beneficiary of your programme and for your community?
Receiving this award not only boosted our self-confidence but also made us realize that what we are doing is right. Now that JAAGO is an internationally recognized organization, it increased the trust factor among our beneficiaries. Even the Bangladesh Government appreciated our achievement and agreed to help us taking it to a bigger scale. With the partnership of the Bangladesh government, we are now trying to reach out to the areas of Bangladesh that are harder to reach.

Could you tell us about the recent developments and the next steps in your activities?
Currently, JAAGO has 12 schools all over Bangladesh. But after winning this award, we started talking to the government and realized that we can do more for society. Now JAAGO is teaching 3,000 children, but there are around 65,000 schools in Bangladesh. So why not reach out to all the areas that are harder to reach. We are currently working on this plan with the government, to see where we can empower the government’s infrastructure with our model.

How do you think innovative technologies can be used to enhance learning and education?
Innovation is a must for this generation and technology is an integrated part of innovation. The model we are currently using for our school, if we can take it to a bigger scale, will be possible to replicate in many places of the world. The world is changing in such a way that soon we will find teachers teaching with the help of artificial intelligence. We definitely believe that it is not possible for technology to replace a teacher completely. It has to be a combined effort to boost up the work.

Source: en.unesco.org