Supply of devices
After conducting a survey among 5,500 students it was found that some 370 students did not have appropriate devices to attend classes online, some 1,800 students did not have the ability to purchase internet data every month. The BUET authority took initiatives based on the survey data.
Based on applications from the students, an interest free loan Tk 30,000 has been provided to each of the students to buy a smart device. Some 133 teachers also got a loan of Tk 45,000 each. A grant of Tk 500 has been given to the students who do not have the ability to buy internet data.
Teachers and students were given 625 SIM cards with special internet packages on the basis of agreements with three mobile phone operators. Loans have also been provided to buy UPS or power banks so that students do not have any trouble taking part in online classes or exams due to power outages.
BUET’s vice-chancellor Satya Prasad Majumder said, "As the pandemic has reduced costs in many other sectors, including campus electricity bills, we are trying to do something that will benefit teachers and students with the money saved."
Classes and exams
BUET teachers have regular contact with 157 class representatives. The rest of the students are being notified through them. Zoom, Moodle and Microsoft Teams are the three most commonly used software for online classes. There is also a video arrangement for lab-centric classes. This video is made keeping in mind that the students must get the feel of a classroom.
BUET’s vice-chancellor Abdul Jabbar Khan said, “This year the term final exams are also being taken online. In order to keep the morale of the students, BUET has relaxed the conditions on some issues in the meeting of the academic council. The time for examination, preparation and submission of answer scripts has been extended on the basis of students' application.”
As per the decision, the students get half an hour to submit the answer scripts online in PDF format after a two and a half hour long examination. If a student is diagnosed with coronavirus, he or she may attend the exam later. Marks will not be deducted in that case.
Md Murad Hossain, a student of BUET’s Department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, is regularly taking part in online classes from his home in Gaibandha. He said, “It would have been frustrating if the examinations were stalled. We do not have time to think of anything else due to study pressure. I have got a loan of Tk 2,500 from the university to buy a power bank. It has been a great help for me.”
We asked Sadat Hossain, a student of the computer science and engineering department at BUET, whether BUET follows any special rules for online classes, which are different from others. Sadat said, “The basic method of online class is the same everywhere. But in the case of BUET, it seems to me that everything is well planned. For example, the university has provided us with the membership of Microsoft Teams right at the beginning of the pandemic. All the academic activities can be conducted through this software. The university has been cooperating in many ways from the beginning so that everyone can participate in the online classes properly.”
University beside the students amid pandemic
Mizanur Rahman, Directorate of Students' Welfare, said, “Many students and their families have been affected by corona. Through the survey we have tried to find out who needs help. We have tried our best to assist accordingly. Under this initiative, as many as 469 students have been provided with the aid. All the necessary information, including the list of the students already vaccinated or about to be vaccinated, is also being recorded in the database. So far, a total of 1,469 students have received the first dose and 651 students have received both doses.”
*This report appeared in the print and online editions of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Ashish Basu