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Digital knowledge festival raises hope for Bangladesh

13 October 2009

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Gyan Utsob, which took place earlier this month, focussed on digitalising local administration, school education and community e-centres in Bangladesh. The festival aimed to pave the way for an integrated knowledge society.

It is a long tradition in Bangladesh that people, irrespective of caste and creed, celebrate religious and cultural programmes with much festivity and crowds no matter what religion or organisation it comes from.

Image credits: The Daily Star/ A bracnet employee shows the Classmate PC to a visitor at the fair organised on the sidelines of Gyan Utsob 2009: Bagerhat Hobe Digital

Social and political gatherings are quite a common scenario in every corner of this country. This one is different and exception as well in terms of enthusiasm of the people.

The Gyan Utsob 2009: Bagerhat Hobe Digital (Knowledge Festival 2009: Bagerhat will turn digital) took place in Bagerhat on October 2-3.

It apparently broke all past records of having people together from all walks of life such as lawmakers, government officials, local leaders, service holders and hard working people.

Bagerhat was buzzing with sounds of footsteps and chattering of people at a rally before the festival, focusing on the information and communication technology, got off to a colourful start.

There were similar initiatives in the past but of no avail. This one drew attention of the mass people. A non-government organisation named Amader Gram arranged the festival called Knowledge Festival 2009.

"It was an awareness build-up extravaganza about how to bring forward a district to others digitally"

It paved the way for the country to turn digital, by arranging a digital seminar, launching websites for district administration ( and local press club (, and a Community e-Centre (CeC) for Rampal upazila, arranging a roundtable conference on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to prevent Crime and a workshop on how to enrich district information on wikipedia. The slogan is Bagerhat Hobe Digital.

According to Munir Hasan, general secretary of Bangladesh Mathematical Olympiad Committee, it was an awareness build-up extravaganza about how to bring forward a district to others digitally. He said intellectuals of the knowledge-based society participate in ICT oriented programmes but Bagerhat truly broke the jinx.

Festival chronicles

On the first day, State Minister for Science and ICT Dr Yeafesh Osman, in a seminar titled ‘A Dreamy Bagerhat and Digital Technology’, encouraged all to use digital technology to make the country prosperous.

Eminent professor Dr Muhammad Zafar Iqbal, the co-ordinator of the seminar, asked to start the second atomic electric plant of the country with the help of local scientists. Khulna City Mayor Talukdar Abdul Khaleque, lawmakers Mir Shawkat Ali, Habibun Nahar Talukdar and Mojammel Hossain welcomed the move.

Mostafa Jabbar, president of Bangladesh Computer Samity, stressed being connected with second submarine cable network within the shortest possible time. Bagerhat Deputy Commissioner Muhammad Moazzem Hossain, police chief Md Mizanur Rahman, Bagerhat Mayor Khan Habibur Rahman also spoke on the occasion.

After inauguration of Bagerhat district administration website, Moazzem Hossain said not only the administration, but also the people, would be empowered through this website. The DC said people will now get information about various important issues the moment they want.

In another programme, the Ministry of Science and Information and Communication Technology inaugurated Rampal upazila CeC with support from the Asian Development Bank. It offers various facilities such as using computer with Internet connection, making international calls through mobile phone, capturing digital image through web cam and many others.

Four other upazilas are going to get CeC soon with the help of CeC Bangladesh.

A roundtable conference titled ICT to prevent Crime was held at the local press club the same day where the discussants opined to create a database of criminals and a digital map of the areas of all police stations of the country to improve law and order. They informed that a project was underway with Sadar Police Station piloting the project of creating database.

On the second day, a workshop styled 'Keeping the information of Bagerhat district up to date in the Wikipedia' was held. A committee was formed in this regard. It was told in the workshop that the important information of nine upazilas of Bagerhat will be included in the Banglapedia within next three months.

A seminar was held at Bagerhat Cultural Foundation auditorium where Additional District Commissioner (Revenue) Md Delwar Haider presented paper on The Dreamy Bagerhat through multimedia presentation. Md Sirazul Islam, who teaches physics at Bagerhat Govt PC College, presented a paper on 'The responsibility of educational institutions to create digital Bagerhat.' Bagerhat Sadar Upazila Agriculture Officer Md Aftab Uddin presented paper on Climate Change and Food Security: Context of Bagerhat'. The seminar stressed preparing a database featuring the scenario of education in the district.

Other outcomes

The Ministry of ICT agreed to help establish two computer laboratories, one at a school and the other at a college, for students. The assurance is branded as a milestone as it was earlier restricted to the selected beneficiaries. In the seminars, the need of making the tourism sector of Bagerhat digitally presentable was discussed.

Along with, the scope outsourcing the local ICT based works to Bagerhat was also dug up.

The discussants agreed to form a committee to oversee the initiatives to accomplish the Digital Bagerhat. The committee would prepare short, middle and long-term work lists.

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