THE news that Bangladesh telephone Shilpa Sangstha will start assembling laptops at Tk 15,000 apiece is good news indeed. However, such availability of computers will only be meaningful if we have the human resource to make use of this fantastic product of the late 20th century, and perfected into the present millennium.
There is a popular impression among us that widespread availability of computers automatically leads to problem solving. Nothing could be further from truth. What it does is open up the possibility of problem solving but does not ensure it. Only availability of trained human resource to make use of such a wonder equipment can ensure problem solving that we so naturally associate with
While we heartily welcome the production of laptops in Bangladesh and also atsuch a competitive price we must simultaneously push for computers training facilities all over the country. We must also include computer training within classrooms at the secondary level. Quality of education will have a lot to do with the successful use of laptops even at such a low price. Unless the quality of our primary school education improves dramatically success in computer use will remain restricted.
There is also a vital issue of maintenance of these laptops. We have very sorry experience of introducing a technology with fanfare but then losing out on its continued use because once the machines are out of order there is no facility of repair. Leave alone rural high schools, even renowned schools in district towns have rooms full of laboratory equipments and various types of machines that rot in store rooms because no repair facility exists to put them back into use. Without such facilities laptops will face the same fate.
We want to remind the policy makers that during the preparation of the last voters list more than 10,000 computer operators were trained. It was reported that this huge trained manpower could be used to advance our digitisation process if planfully used. We know of no follow up move. May be with the coming into the market of these cheap laptops we can retrieve those operators and bring them back into employment. This can help us to leap frog with the digitisation process that the government plans for.