With a concerted effort from parents, teachers, social workers, and policymakers, children can emerge from the crisis ready to cope and thrive in the post-Covid-19 world, said speakers at a recent event organised by EMK Center.
"With EMK, we can find a way out to introduce it with mass students in an inclusive way," said Professor Syed Md Golam Faruk, director general of the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education.
"If we can add the components of this camp to our regular assessment process, students will be motivated to learn more."
Speaking as the chief guest at the closing ceremony of the summer and winter camp on 18 January, Professor Faruk expressed interest in continuing long-term planning rather than piecemeal projects, read a press release.
Motivated by the summer camp concept in the USA, EMK Center – created in 2012 through a partnership between the Liberation War Museum and the American Center of US Embassy Dhaka – has been organising summer and winter camp since 2019.
From December 2020 to January 2021, EMK Center organised "Make This Winter Count" for the students from grade-7 to grade-12 to help them learn new skills and explore possibilities within the field of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and useful soft skills during the winter break.
Despite all challenges, Covid-19 has created an opportunity through virtual learning, and MAKE This Winter Camp 2020 was participated by more than 2,000 students with 45% female participation from 25 districts in eight training sessions, 12 workshops, and six webinars virtually.
The programme started with the experience sharing from the participants.
In a hands-on and experimental learning process, they have learned skills like graphic design, website design, presentation making, coding, and many more from national and international experts.
Shakina Akter, assistant teacher of Dhanmondi Government Girls High School, said "It helped the students not only learn tech skills but also the soft skills."
Acting public affairs officer of the US Embassy in Dhaka Joshua Kamp highlighted the function of education by quoting Martin Luther King Jr, "The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically."
He encouraged the female students to keep the focus on STEM education too.
Manik Mahmud, head of Social Innovation Cluster at a2i, said, "a2i is looking to work for the future and the future is now. That is why we would like to engage more students in the future through this process."
Principles of Birshreshtha Munshi Abdur Rouf Public College and Birshreshtha Noor Mohammad Public College emphasised running follow up programmes and arranging similar camps in their own institutes.
Asif Uddin Ahmed, acting director of EMK Center, concluded by saying, "The Covid-19 crisis has significantly reshaped the world for students. From their academic study to their social skills and mental health, the fallout may follow them for the rest of their lives. Whatever we do at the EMK Center, our vision is to prepare the future workforce for the 4IR transformation from this stage. Through this, we would like to help other educational institutes arrange the camp at their institutes."
He also shared his vision for the upcoming "She Can STEM" programme dedicated to women students for encouraging them to pursue a career in STEM.