Education Minister hints at affiliation of government colleges with universities



Staff Correspondent, Barta24.com
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Education Minister Mahibul Hasan Chowdhury Naufel said why are the new universities that are being established, starting undergraduate courses at the beginning? The university should monitor the undergraduate courses of the government colleges in the respective areas. Undergraduate courses of the college will be monitored and postgraduate courses will be launched separately by the university. Start-up times are challenging for new universities. From there we will develop resources with a full setup.

He said these things during an exchange of views with the Bangladesh University Council at the International Mother Language Institute at Segunbagicha in the capital on Monday (January 15).

The Education Minister said that in 2014, the Prime Minister ordered all the colleges or centenary colleges under the respective universities to ensure academic monitoring. She advised the Vice-Chancellors of all public universities to take action in this regard.

Naufel said Open University is doing academic monitoring of non-formal education across the country. So why Chattogram University cannot do academic monitoring work of Chattogram College? He used to do it once. If the capacity was there before, now the system is supposed to increase. Prime Minister herself has included seven colleges with Dhaka University. We are overcoming the challenges there. Students blocked the road but we did not budge. Now the standards of seven colleges have improved.

The minister said, if Dhaka University can monitor academic standards, why can't other universities do it? He indicated that if the law needs to be amended in these cases, the ministry will do so.

Highlighting the directives of the Prime Minister, the Education Minister said that the universities that have been established at the district level, the government colleges in those districts; their academic monitoring will be done by the concerned university.

   

Molestation in Bangladesh Agricultural University, Proctorial Body resigns



BAU Correspondent, Barta24.com, Mymenshing
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First year students of Animal Husbandry Faculty protested demanding justice in the case of molestation of a female student in Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU). They started the procession from the main gate of the Faculty of Animal Husbandry around 10:30 am on Sunday (February 11).

The procession circumambulated the student hall of the university, the central library and the Veterinary Faculty-adjacent road and ended at the office of the Dean of the faculty of Animal Husbandry.

At the end of the procession, the agitating students locked the administrative building of the University demanding justice. Later students opened the lock around 1 o'clock and held a meeting with the Vice-Chancellor.

Meanwhile, during the procession, the agitating students abused the members of the proctorial body, alleging that all of the proctorial body resigned, the proctor said.

But the VC said that there has been a little misunderstanding between the proctor and the students. It will be resolved. They will join again.

Last Saturday (February 10) at noon, a female Animal Husbandry student was molested by an unidentified CNG-driven auto-rickshaw driver on the road adjacent to the residential area of Bangladesh Atomic Agriculture Research Institute (BINA) of the university.

The students protested for a total of four points including the trial of the incident. Other demands are banning of auto-rickshaws from all over the campus except on designated traffic roads, prescribed code of rickshaws and dress code for drivers, speedy strengthening of security on farm roads inside the university.

Proctor Prof. Azharul Islam alleged that the agitating students shouted slogans abusing the members of the Proctoral body during the protest march.

He said, "During the agitation, the students attacked the teachers personally and abused them. Where teachers are not respected, we cannot work. We, the members of the proctorial body (proctor and assistant proctors) have submitted their resignations to the proctorial office.

The agitating students said that their slogans were, 'Why is my sister assaulted, the administration wants answers', 'When will the stupid administration move?', 'There is CCTV, no footage, 'Why are there outsiders in the campus?' They raised their voice through slogans. They did not abuse or disrespect the teachers.

When asked about this, Vice-Chancellor Professor Emdadul Haque Chowdhury said, 'The demands of the students are logical. Common numbering will be provided at university entrances to strengthen connectivity with security personnel. Security will be strengthened on farm roads from today. He talked to the Superintendent of Police for proper prosecution of the incident of molestation.

Regarding the resignation of the proctorial body, the Vice-Chancellor said, "There has been a misunderstanding between the proctor and the students." The issue is being resolved. Everything will be fine in a day or two. The proctors will rejoin.' 

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Torch procession for 5-point demand in JU



JU Correspondent, Barta24.com, Savar(Dhaka)
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The teachers-students of Jahangirnagar University (JU) held a 5-point torch procession demanding that the accused be given speedy trial in the case of gang-rape of the housewife while the husband was detained recently, the trial of oppressor teacher Mahmudur Rahman Jony be settled and non-students be evicted from the common room and accommodation of regular students should be ensured.

On Sunday (February 11) evening, under the banner of 'Anti-oppression stage', the torch procession started from the foot of Shaheed Minar of the University, went around Bangabandhu Hall, Battala, New Administrative Building, Transport Square and various important roads of the University and ended with a short rally in front of the Vice-Chancellor's residence. .

At this time, the students took a position in front of the Vice Chancellor's residence demanding to accept their 5 point demands. At one point, on the fifth day of the ongoing movement, the university vice-chancellor and other important officials of the administration confronted the agitators.

The other demands of the protesting students were that the trial of the oppressor teacher Mahmudur Rahman Jony should be settled, the crimes of the proctor and Mir Mosharraf Hossain Hall provost who assisted the oppressors should be investigated and for the sake of fair investigation, they should be exempted from administrative posts during the investigation and those involved in the drug syndicate should be identified and declared uninvited from the campus. Take legal action against them.

Sohagi Samia, a student of Drama and Theater department, organizer of Samajtantrik Chhatrafront, said, "University teacher Mahmudur Rahman Jony is accused of sexual harassment. But, he has not been tried till date by the University administration and State administration are walking hand in hand. Like the state, the democratic environment in universities is also being destroyed JUCSU election has not yet been held in the University, many incidents like oppression and misdeeds have not been tried.

ARK Russell said, "We gave a five-day ultimatum for the abolition of public rooms. The administration has harassed common students in the name of abolition of common room. Hall administration did not go to the rooms of these illegal students who are under political umbrella.

Professor Jamal Uddin of Environmental Science department of the University, said in the gathering that the University has reached this stage due to the injustice of the events organized in the past, "The VC said that he will take a specific step against the accused in the rape case and to evict the students staying in the residential hall. The students were supposed to be expelled from the hall within five working days, but that deadline has passed today. We have come to know that no effective action has been taken in this regard. According to Intelligence Agencies and RAB, this university has become a drug arena.

This trade has been going on for a long time. Even after such a heinous incident of University rape, the university and hall administration is inactive and the proctor and provost of the university remain on alert. If this is the case, we are worried whether the parents will send their children to this university in the upcoming admission test. I believe every teacher in the university wants to change this situation. But where is the problem of the administration?

Meanwhile, on the fifth day of the ongoing movement, the agitators were confronted by the university's vice-chancellor Professor Nurul Alam and important officials of the administration. When the protesting teachers-students were assured of meeting their demands, the protesting students got involved in an argument with the Vice-Chancellor as they were unable to evacuate the non-students from the residential hall within the five-day period set by the syndicate, as well as abolishing the public room and keeping the mini-public room open.

Apart from this, when the agitators asked about the list of non-students staying in the residential hall, the administrative teachers present along with the VC expressed their inability to provide it and asked for two to three more days.

At one point, Parveen Jolly announced a symbolic blockade program for the next two days on behalf of the organizers of the anti-oppression stage, highlighting the incompetence of the administration. Apart from this, if the administration does not accept the demand, she called for a one-point movement to protest the failure of the administration from February 15.

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5G will come after elections



Ishtiaq Hussaien, Special Correspondent, Barta24.com
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The high-speed 5G service was supposed to be launched in the country next month. Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) had also auctioned airwaves with plans to launch this service in December this year. But everything is uncertain now. Those concerned say that the commercial activities of 5G services will be launched after the elections.

In December 2021, 5G was launched experimentally through Teletalk at 6 places including Jatiyo Sangsad, Secretariat came under this facility. Earlier, in the auction held in March last year, mobile operators bought 190 MHz waves by spending Tk 10 thousand crore.

Currently 3G and 4G services are available in the country. 3G was launched in 2013 and 4G services were launched in 2018. South Korea launched the first 5G service in the world in 2019.

It has been found that even a month before the launch of 5G, the operators have not yet received any related license. It was said that BTRC will issue a unified license for this. And the operators have not yet received this license. So it was not possible to prepare from their side.

Shahed Alam, Chief Corporate and Regulatory Officer of Robi Aziata Limited, told Barta24.com that they are fully prepared to provide fast 5G connectivity. There are no barriers to rolling out 5G, but it requires a lot of investment. A huge amount of software and other equipment has to be imported in foreign currency.

"At the start of 5G, we need to change our ecosystem, the towers will need a lot of power, the transmission network to reach remote areas and active sharing will be important. Where the networks are needed, how much the customers will benefit from the 5G service or how the demand will be, preparations are being taken seriously,' he added.

Those concerned said that while the minimum speed in 4G is 7 Mbps, the speed of 5G is 20 Mbps. It will be used in the industry, not at the individual level. In this case, the government could not finalize the specific sector. And it is not possible for the operators to start working with this service until this sector is finalized.

Experts in the telecommunication sector said that an investment of Tk 20 to 25 thousand crores will be required to launch 5G. No operator took the risk of investment as the business field was not finalized. The operators will finalize the investment plan after getting the unified license.

Although by now all the operators have completed 5G trials in the divisional cities including Dhaka. But Telecom Minister Mustafa Jabbar himself has no concrete explanation for the non-launch of 5G in December. He told the media that they are waiting. Commercial activities of 5G will be launched after the elections.

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Accelerating the Application of Artificial Intelligence



International Desk, Barta24.com
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The recent visit of OpenAI CEO, Sam Altman, whose company deals with artificial intelligence technologies and has created ChatGPT, to India and his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi coincides with three important developments. Firstly, Sam Altman’s interaction with the Prime Minister and industry leaders comes at a time when India is Council Chair of the 25 nation Global Partnership on AI (GPAI). Secondly, India is in the process of drafting Artificial Intelligence (AI) regulations through the Digital India Bill, which has been under work for the past one year now. And thirdly, Altman’s interaction while focusing largely on artificial intelligence (AI), also touched upon the need for its global regulation, which is especially significant because the Indian government is looking for conversational AI tools to assist in its administrative tasks. India is pushing to put digital technologies at the core of its inclusive development, in part through widespread internet access and one of the world’s most affordable data pricing schemes. From aid for the farmers in learning about different government schemes, to understanding customer grievances, improving the delivery of health and security services, the government is looking to AI as an enabling solution to help with citizen-focused duties. Altman has lauded India’s efforts in building technology such as UPI, Aadhaar, and the India stack.

When it comes to AI, information, there is a lot of noise and it is clickbaity, but the discussions around AI’s implications must be coherent with initiative coming from the government. The most critical things about AI technology is safety and security and it is important to start considering how AI touches the rest of the portfolios, – AI & cybersecurity, AI & open source, AI & space, etc. So there is a need to look at it not just by itself, but as part of a holistic technology ecosystem.

India has been a paradox. The country developed advanced digital computers quite early and has highly advanced and cost-effective space programmes. Yet until just a few decades ago, the nation lagged in its digital transformation and accessibility. In fact during his interaction with CEOs, Altman also alluded to a lack of infrastructure in India, claiming that it would be impossible to create a tool like ChatGPT for a user in India since doing so would necessitate the development of a specific type of infrastructure.

On the other hand, India possesses unique strengths related to AI technologies, not the least is that Indian companies were ranked second in AI adoption in the Asia Pacific region. AI involving big data analytics, machine learning and data analytics are enhancing performance in key sectors of education, healthcare, agriculture, and governance. India’s thriving start-up ecosystem has dozens of unicorns deploying AI-powered tools in their core services. Globally, India is on top for skill penetration and an AI-ready market valued at $6.4 billion. There are over 4,500 Artificial Intelligence startups in India with different types of applications and parameters. India’s public and private sectors have produced AI-powered tools that improve the delivery of health and security services. For instance, AgNext Technologies deploys AI-based solutions across the global agricultural value chain. Data Science Wizards (DSW) is a Data Science platform and solutions company that provides AI and data analytics platforms and solutions to enterprises for data-driven decision-making. E-khool LMS was founded to create a one-stop advanced AI integrated learning management system useful for schools, universities, corporate and training academies. Synapsica has developed spine AI algorithms, can identify key vertebral points, listhesis, pathologies, and variations and generate preliminary reports in just a click.

Across India, 25 Technology Innovation Hubs (TIH) are promoting the development of emerging technologies to empower national initiatives in crucial areas. Over 500 technological products, including dozens of emerging technologies have been established using TIHs. India’s Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) had earlier launched its Bhashini programme to enable easy access to the Internet, digital services and more content for all Indians in their own languages, using AI powered tools. Numerous startups such as Gnaani, Reverie, and Devanagiri have made powerful strides in addressing language challenges

According to the National Institute for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog, AI has the potential to add approximately US$ 957 billion or 15% of the current gross value to the country’s economy in 2035. AI expenditure in India is estimated to surge at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 39% between 2019-25 to reach US$ 11,781 million by 2025.

PM Modi has been on point in terms of trying to establish top-down guidance on AI policy. He has spoken several times of the goal to make India a global leader in responsible AI for social empowerment and inclusion, “We want India to become the global hub of AI… Our bright minds are already working towards it.”

Leadership in India has been taking steps towards policy formulation around AI. With National Programme on AI in place and a National Data Governance Framework Policy and one of world’s largest publicly accessible data sets programme, which aims to modernise the government’s data collection, to improve governance and to enable an Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data-led research and start up ecosystem in the country.

During his India tour, Altman stated that AI adoption would lead to job losses. Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) Rajeev Chandrasekhar believes that although AI is disruptive, it is unlikely to create any threat in the job sector in the immediate future because its application for the time being is task-oriented and not based on reasoning, “It is possible that over the next five-ten years the AI becomes intelligent enough to start replacing human workforce in certain sectors after 5 years. It is possible… But as of today, the application of AI is on tasks. It creates more efficiency — of course, at the very lower levels of intelligence and overly repetitive tasking, it may replace jobs in the coming years

Overall AI employment in India is estimated at about 416,000 professionals. Though he also suggested that AI would also create new roles. Through FutureSkillsPRIME, India’s Information Technology Ministry, MeitY is aiming to upskill/reskill IT professionals in emerging technologies. Aside from being Council Chair of Global Partnership on AI (GPAI) for the current year, India has been collaborating with the United States through the USIAI and with Germany through the Indo-German Science and Technology Centre (IGSTC) on AI related research.

These initiatives will prove to be key for what is a society-changing technology. A broader thought around AI is ofcourse around security. As these AI enabled systems become more and more capable, what are we willing to allow and how are we preparing for a scenario in which there is a ‘super intelligence.’ The challenge of course is in putting up the ‘guard rails’ in anticipation even as the potential of AI is unleashed, and stewarding a system that we are not smarter than.

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