The government is going to set up 5000 more digital labs in secondary-level educational institutions in an effort to enhance students' computer literacy.
To this end, the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) has approved the second phase of the Sheikh Russel Digital Lab Establishment Project at an estimated cost of Tk938.73 crore.
The approval came from an Ecnec meeting held virtually on Tuesday. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina presided over the meeting through videoconference from her official residence Ganabhaban.
Planning Minister MA Manna at a virtual press briefing said the Ecnec has given its go-ahead to seven projects with an outlay of Tk3,075.33 crore. Of them, five projects are new and two others are revised ones.
Talking about the digital lab project, the minister said the 5000 new ICT labs – each having 23 sets of desktop computers – will be established in different schools, madrasahs and technical institutes across the country.
Under the project, 300 "schools of the future" will also be set up to provide training for 36,020 teachers, and 140 contents for communicative English and ICT education will be created, the minister said.
The planning minister said that about 3000 labs were established under the first phase of the project, which helped develop digital literacy of young students. This success has encouraged the government to approve the second phase, he added.
The prime minister has praised the initiative and asked the officials concerned to design more such projects which will help establish digital Bangladesh, Mannan said.
The Ecnec has also approved the third revision of the Income Support Programme for the Poorest (ISPP) at an estimated cost of Tk1980.59 crore. Starting from April 2015, the project that is being implemented at an estimated cost of Tk2441.46 crore was supposed to end by June this year.
However, the project tenure has been extended up to June 2022 and its cost was reduced by Tk460.87 crore.
The planning minister said as the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) failed to identify pregnant and lactating mothers from the poorest areas of the country to provide them with health and cash support, the lender World Bank has cut $50 million from the commitment of $300 million for the project.
The minister said the BBS is primarily responsible for the World Bank's withdrawal of assistance. There are some other reasons, such as a lack of coordination, for the project going slow.
He has asked the people concerned to tighten the coordination and use the experience of the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs to accelerate the project.
With the fourth revision, the cost of "Amar Bari Amar Khamar" project was reduced by Tk125 crore to Tk7885.27 crore.
The planning minister said the project, formerly known as "Ekti Bari Ekti Khamar", has become slow paced due to Covid-19, and it has been revised for another year.
Of other new projects, the Ecnec approved Water Supply System Rehabilitation in Rajshahi City involving Tk93.45 crore.
The Khulna Sewerage System Development project will be implemented at an estimated cost of Tk2,334 crore.
The two other newly approved projects are Development of Cotton Research and Transfer of Technology Project at Tk63.55 crore, and the Mujibnagar Irrigation Development Project involving Tk231.33 crore.