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25 November, 2015 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 25 November, 2015 12:41:33 AM
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Multimedia classrooms in pry schools

Most laptops dysfunctional

HARUN UR RASHID
Most laptops dysfunctional

Laptops distributed this year by the Directorate of Primary Education (DPE) for multimedia classrooms with a view to modernising primary education are facing problems related to software and hardware. It is alleged that pirated software coupled with low-quality hardware is responsible for these problems.
Several teachers in primary schools across the country claim that they have been unable to start the laptops since receiving them in March this year. One such teacher from Islampur Govt Primary School in Pabna Sadar, requesting anonymity, said, “When we got the laptop, it did not start. We tried to get them repaired locally but without success. It was then sent to DPE but it still did not function. Finally, we got another one.”
Some teachers say they have failed to develop multimedia content for classrooms, given that the laptops are either out of order or malfunctioning. While many schools have got their laptops replaced only to find that the replacements too are facing problems. A teacher from Uttar Khulna Primary School in Terakheda said, “When we got the laptop, there was no display on the screen. We sent it to DPE and got a replacement. But the second laptop is also out of order. We sent that too to DPE. Currently, we are taking classes without multimedia.”

Educational institutions, which have got their laptops replaced, include Islampur Govt Primary School in Pabna Sadar; 129 No Vennibari Primary School in Gopalganj Sadar; Uttar Khulna Primary School in Terakheda; Madhya Pokkhali Primary School in Cox’s Bazar Sadar; Char Pogoldia Primary School in Sarishabari, Jamalpur; and 47 No Baroipatal Primary School in Sarishabari, Jamalpur.

According to DPE sources, four to five laptops are being returned to them every week. Many of these laptops are either being repaired or replaced due to software and hardware problems. A source on condition of anonymity said that with so many laptops being returned, the DPE is now discouraging primary school authorities from sending back the laptops.
DPE had, last year, bought 3,930 laptops from Flora Telecom Limited (FTL) for multimedia classrooms but its committee did not approve the laptops as they found that FTL had not supplied genuine software as per tender specifications which said “one DVD of licensed Microsoft Office 2010 Professional/Microsoft Office 2010 Professional Plus in original pack to be provided for each laptop”. The DPE Committee sent some laptops along with software to Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) for inspection. After examining the laptops and software, BUET Information and Communication Technology Professor Dr Md Saiful Islam said in his report that “the Printed License Key Card of Microsoft Office supplied by FTL is not acceptable as per tender specifications”. The tender specified the price of each Printed License Key Card of Microsoft Office as Tk. 10,000 and cost of each laptop as Tk. 50,000.
Dr Saiful, in his report, even said that the Printed License Key Card had been inspected by Manager of Investigations with Microsoft Operations Pte Ltd, Singapore, Andy Chua, who verified that all 3,881 pieces of Microsoft Office 2010 Key Cards are not genuine products manufactured by Microsoft and may have infringed Microsoft’s copyright or trademark. Mr Chua further reported that Microsoft Office Professional 2010 Key Cards are loosely distributed with no proper packaging and the print quality of Key Cards is poor, typo errors can be found on all Key Cards with the most common being “To learn more ‘got’ to www.office.com, and the version of Microsoft Office is intended for academic use only (students) and is not available with public retail.
Despite such flaws, FTL demanded payment from DPE but the latter refused as they found the software to be inconsistent with tender specifications. Dell and HP- branded laptops remained in the store for one year after which, FTL sought intervention of the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education. The ministry formed a committee and came up with the report signed by Senior Assistant Secretary (Development-2) A.H.M. Golam Kibria on December 29, 2014, which said the software did not fulfill tender specifications and recommended that DPE accept the 3,930 laptops only after these fulfilled certain conditions.
“FTL will handover laptops properly as it is alleged there is no operating system and Microsoft Office 2010 installed in many laptops,” said the report. “The company will install operating system and Microsoft Office 2010 Professional/Microsoft Plus in each laptop and provide its back-up software in CD/DVD,” the report added. It further said FTL will take responsibility for the laptops from the date of warranty period for three years and if any software is blocked by Microsoft due to piracy, FTL will be fined Tk. 10,000 for each such block and will install new licensed software.
Golam recommended that in future, while purchasing computers/laptops, samples and necessary software be inspected as per technical specifications of the tender and technically enriched organisations like BUET or any other university or the Bangladesh Computer Council be involved in such purchase.
When contacted, DPE Director General Md Alamgir told The Independent, “We paid FTL the bill amount when the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education gave us the recommendation.”
Meanwhile, it is learnt that DPE is going to purchase some 3,500 laptops of sub-standard quality which are in the pipeline.

 

 

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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