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Khin Tharaphy Oo | DMG
5 June, Sittwe

In a bid to enable teachers to access new curricula and other learning materials from the Ministry of Education, the Department of Basic Education will install DBE (Department of Basic Education) boxes at schools in Arakan and Chin states that lack internet connectivity.

The department plans to send DBE boxes to the schools before June 15 in order to conduct online courses on new curricula for grades 5, 8 and 11. Telenor Myanmar will donate 150 DBE boxes, said U Tin Maung Win, deputy director-general of the Department of Basic Education.

“DBE boxes can run on solar power even if there is no electricity. This box is just like training by us. Education officers in Arakan State will manage the distribution of DBE boxes to the schools that are in need, based on the remoteness of locations,” he added.

The DBE boxes “contain teacher training content or teaching aids for teachers in the form of video, short stories, poems and illustrated materials for learners as well as Telenor’s online safety content,” Telenor said in a press release announcing the initiative. “DBE Box is built on the Raspberry Pi mini-computer which consist of routers accessible by mobile phones to the content inside the box.”

Some, however, are flagging the limitations of the technology.

“The department has made arrangements for teachers from the regions that have experienced internet shutdown to learn new curricula with the use of DBE boxes. But it will not be effective,” said a senior assistant teacher from Rathedaung Township.

“Due to the spread of COVID-19, the department is unable to conduct training courses on new curricula. The online courses are OK, but it will not be as effective as expected as teachers will have to learn it on a self-study basis,” she explained.

A university professor will conduct online courses on new curricula for 10 to 15 teachers from each township. These teachers will conduct multiplier courses in their respective townships after the completion of online courses, according to the Department of Basic Education.

The government currently blocks mobile internet access in Arakan State’s Buthidaung, Rathedaung, Myebon, Ponnagyun, Kyauktaw, Mrauk-U and Minbya townships, and Paletwa Township in Chin State.

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