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    ‘We Think Digital’ program launched in Bangladesh to promote digital literacy

    Tv24 Desk:  Facebook, in partnership with the Ministry of Education, ICT Division and a2i, launched ‘We Think Digital’ program to provide digital literacy and citizenship training to promote responsible use of the internet.

    Hon’ble State Minister for ICT Divison, Zunaid Ahmed Palak, MP, launched the program through online platform while Deputy Minister for Ministry of Education, Mohibul Hasan Chowdhury, attended as the Special Guest. Khandker Anwarul Islam, Cabinet Secretary; N M Zeaul Alam, PAA, Senior Secretary of ICT Division; Dr. Md Abdul Mannan, PAA, Project Director (Additional Secretary) of the Aspire to Innovate (a2i) Programme; Rubana Huq, President of BGMEA, and Ashwini Rana, Public Policy Director, South Asia at Facebook were present as panelists. Anir Chowdhury, Policy Advisor, a2i moderated the panel discussion and delivered the welcome speech at the launching event followed by introductory remarks on the program by Sabhanaz Rashid Diya, Public Policy and Programs Manager, Bangladesh at Facebook.

    The program is a comprehensive training designed to raise awareness, build capacity and develop digital ambassadorship through a whole-of-government approach, including teachers, officials and young professionals, to move beyond foundational digital literacy towards responsible digital citizenship. The program provides training courses and educational materials on important skills on online privacy, protecting digital identities, critical thinking, promoting respectful and empathetic online behavior, and tackling false information. Piloting of the initiative will begin by providing training through a combination of learning platforms between Facebook’s ‘We Think Digital’ and ‘MuktoPaath’ to 50 award-winning teachers, 30 government officials from Ministry of Education, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Bangladesh Police and Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, as well as 20 young professionals focusing on social and educational development in the country.

    Chief Guest, Zunaid Ahmed Palak, MP, Hon’ble State Minister, ICT Division, began by thanking Facebook for launching the ‘We Think Digital’ programme in Bangla, and believes it will help citizens to get a better understanding of the best practices of the internet and social media. He said, “Under the leadership of the Hon’ble ICT Adviser, technology has enabled us to deliver services at the doorsteps of the citizens. This has led to a significant rise in the GDP of the nation as well. All services will become digital soon to fulfill the dream of Digital Bangladesh. And hence, we must increase the use and application of technology, create awareness about cyber security and digital ethics, and add ICT courses to our national curriculum.”

    Special Guest, Mohibul Hasan Chowdhury, Deputy Minister, Education Ministry, thanked a2i, ICT Division and Facebook for launching the ‘We Think Digital’ initiative. He emphasized the importance of working with the government to realize digital transformation and the significance of including social media literacy to the ICT curriculum. He added, “Social media has become an integral part of our lives and livelihoods. Hence, it has become necessary that the citizens know the rules and norms of using social media to maintain proper harmony within the society.”

    Khandker Anwarul Islam, Cabinet Secretary, talked about how social media platforms, especially Facebook can help promote Digital Bangladesh and overcome the problems of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. He said, “Facebook has been an incredible tool for us to promote Digital Bangladesh. It is no longer a dream. Villages are becoming digital as well. Villagers are now enjoying the benefits of Digital Bangladesh through digital centres.” As an example of the promotion of Digital Bangladesh, he brought in the success of Padma Bridge, a construction landmark of the country. He said that thanks to Facebook, we are able to spread this success among the entire population of the country, as well as, global audiences.”

    N M Zeaul Alam, PAA, Senior Secretary of ICT Division said, “The dream of Digital Bangladesh has come a long way under the leadership of our Hon’ble Prime Minister and the guidance of our Hon’ble ICT advisor. We have created digital data centres to improve transparency and provide information to the citizens.” He believes there is a need for more such campaigns and the “We Think Digital” program will help raise this awareness and improve the social security of the citizens on the path of establishing a safe Digital Bangladesh.

    Dr. Md Abdul Mannan, PAA, Project Director (Additional Secretary) of a2i said, “Digital Bangladesh is the dream of Hon’ble Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, spearheading Bangladesh’s progress into a developed nation. It is a policy for the creation of an ICT grounded modern nation, where use of the Internet, e-commerce, e-banking, e-governance, use of open-source software, well-networked software and acceptable power sources will be available constantly.” In her introductory remarks, Sabhanaz Rashid Diya highlighted the importance of localizing the program for Bangladesh and empowering more people to become responsible digital citizens.

    Rubana Huq, President of BGMEA, said that with the introduction of digital transfers has made it easier and safer to make payments. In order to widespread the practice of digital payments, the government should take necessary steps to incentivize the entrepreneurs. She encouraged Facebook to raise collective awareness of the importance of digital identity for everyone and grow a culture of responsibility which will increase the usage and effectiveness of Facebook for the development of the nation.

    “At Facebook, we care deeply about the safety of our online community,” said Ashwani Rana, Public Policy Director, South Asia, Facebook. “We look forward to working in partnership with the ICT Division of Bangladesh, Ministry of Education, and UNDP to provide resources to inspire critical thinking, empathy and digital discourse, so that more people can have meaningful interactions and safer internet experience.”

    In the panel discussion, the participants highlighted the progress of Bangladesh as a nation and the importance of ICT to further accelerate this growth. They also discussed the overall status of digital literacy of the country and ways to promote safe and informed internet practices through ‘We Think Digital’ so that people can benefit from the world’s tremendous digital growth, also evident in Bangladesh. The learning modules cover topics such as privacy, safety, security, digital resiliency and knowing your digital footprint.

    The program concluded with the launch of We Think Digital website (https://wethinkdigital.fb.com/bd/bd-bd/) in Bangla. Along with the mentioned attendees, higher officials from different ministries, organizations and media personnel were also present during the event.

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