- Veröffentlicht: 21. September 2020
BIGD study on 6,500 households finds about half of them have access to neither computer nor Net
Nearly three-quarters of rural households in the country have low level digital access and skills, finds a survey of Brac Institute of Governance and Development.
The survey showed that about 49 percent of the households have no access to a computer and 54 percent do not have access to the internet. Although 96 percent of rural households own a mobile phone, a majority (59 percent) do not have access to a smartphone, according to the findings.
In recent years, Bangladesh has achieved commendable progress in digitising many of its public services to make them more accessible and cost-effective, said a BIGD press release yesterday.
However, the recent study by the BIGD titled "Digital Literacy in Rural Bangladesh" shows that rural households are still lagging behind in adoption and use of e-services due to lack of proper access to information and communication technology (ICT) and the skills needed to operate devices.
This persistent "digital divide" between rural and urban households in Bangladesh continues to hinder the successful expansion of the country's e-government system.
In a webinar yesterday, Dr Wasel Bin Shadat, senior research fellow at BIGD, presented these findings from the study.
Surveying 6,500 rural households from across the country, the study was the first of its kind to develop a Digital Literacy Index (DLI), which illustrates the current state of digital literacy in rural Bangladesh, BIGD said.
The study categorised rural households into four different classes, according to digital access -- none, low, basic, and above basic.
Seventy-two percent of households were found to have low access and only four percent had above basic access, the survey found.
These findings come at a time when the government is struggling to carry out regular online classes for students with uneven access to internet and devices as all educational institutions across the country are closed for an indefinite period due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Digital access, however, is only one of two aspects of digital literacy, the other being the skills that enable people to use these tools to effectively communicate, seek information, and solve problems.
The study found that among the respondents, 68 percent can read and write text messages, 10 percent can check and send emails, 15 percent can make video calls, 41 percent can participate in social media, and 28 percent can make comments on social media.
Only 27 percent search the internet for information and 59 percent obtain public service-related information through digital media.
But when it comes to problem-solving and actual utility, the percentage of households who possess the requisite skills is staggeringly low.
Among the respondents, only three percent pay bills via mobile, six percent use computers for productive activity, 20 percent use the internet for functional activities like reading news, online training, etc., three percent have online shopping experience, and less than one percent earn through online activities.
This study provides evidence of significant geographical diversity for the Digital Literacy Index.
According to the findings, rural households in Chattogram, Dhaka, and Khulna divisions possess higher digital access, digital skills, and digital literacy status, while households in Mymensingh, Rangpur, and Sylhet divisions have a significantly lower level of digital access, skills, and literacy.
The study also found that a household's income had a strong and significant correlation with its digital access, skills, and literacy.
Imaran Matin, executive director of BIGD, said, "As a research institute, we at BIGD want to create an entire social science of digitisation, which will be highly relevant in the coming years. This survey was a part of that digital social science domain."
Mehnaz Rabbani, lead, research for policy and governance (RPG), BIGD, said "To create an e-government system, we need a critical mass of digitally literate people. This literacy should not only reflect in people's access to digital devices but also in their behaviour. And like any other behavioural shift, this will require carefully designed innovative interventions."
Gregory Chen, policy lead, CGAP said, "Digital literacy is the outcome of numerous determinants affecting one another. Only when all of these different determinants are identified and addressed, will the level of digital literacy improve."
Asif Saleh, executive director, Brac; Anir Chowdhury, policy advisor, a2i; Dr Sajjad Zohir, executive director, Economic Research Group (ERG), among others, spoke at the webinar.
Quelle/Source: The Daily Star, 14.09.2020