Adolescents in Bangladesh use internet and mobile phones in multifarious ways to build their confidence, such as learning new skills and engaging with global and local movements, according to a survey conducted by the Brac Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD)
The research organisation revealed the information in a webinar titled "New Forms of Adolescent Voice and Agency through ICT and Mobile Phone Use" on Wednesday.
The BIGD conducted the survey among 64 school-going male and female adolescents of class 8.
Attending the webinar as chief guest, Secretary to Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs Kazi Rowshan Akhter said, "We are doing our best for the adolescents through our 'accelerating protection for children' project."
"The key components of the project are: empowerment of adolescents, capacity building and quality services, supporting policy formulation and advocacy, monitoring and knowledge management and communication for development," said Kazi Rowshan Akhter.
She also said, "We have to project to establish clubs for adolescents between 10 to 18 years old. The objective of the project is to prevent child marriage and to reduce the risk of gender-based violence."
Maheen sultan, senior fellow of practice, BIGD said, "The BIGD has been involved in 'Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence' programme since its beginning in 2015. One of the important things that we aim to explore is the strategies which are most effective in transforming adolescent boys and girls' lives at special points in their lives."
Dr Imran Matin, executive director of BIGD, said, "We have started a whole initiative around digitisation for inclusive development, where we want to really bring in strong social science research perspective to ensure that the vision and the ambition of Digital Bangladesh actually benefits and have impact on lives of people."
Lopita Huq, research fellow, BIGD, presented the key findings of the survey.
Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, senior adviser, BIGD; Silvia Guglielmi, qualitative researcher, GAGE; Junnatul Ferdosh (Ani), national consultant - Educational Innovation, a2i; Sabrina Shaheed, principal, Sir John Wilson School; Dr Ananya Raihan, CEO, iSocial also shared thoughts at the webinar. Dr Imran Matin presided over the session.
The survey, conducted in one English medium school and three Bengali medium schools spanning across central Dhaka, an urban slum and a village in Cumilla from July 2019 to February 2020, also uncovered negative biases in the minds of the parents and teachers who were interviewed as a part of the sample.
Parents were found to be worried about possible romantic relationships their children may get involved in, and were unwilling to believe that adolescents use of the internet for educational purposes. So they invariably monitor their daughters' use of mobile phones and internet more closely than that of their sons.
Even teachers reported to be providing more opportunity for boys to use computers in ICT labs, assuming their interest and skills over girls.