The British Council offered a coding workshop for students at Munshiganj Public Library on 4 September 2018 under the Libraries Unlimited (LU) project. Libraries Unlimited (LU) is a five-year programme implemented by the British Council and Department of Public Libraries (DPL) under the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, Bangladesh. One of the objectives of this programme is to introduce state-of-the-art educational technologies at public libraries in Bangladesh and spread coding\programming mainly among schoolchildren by introducing DIY (Do it Yourself) toolkits like Kano Computer and the micro: bit. The effort is to make them available at public libraries.

The workshop was attended by over 150 kids from ages 10 to 16 and provided the opportunity for them to learn some introductory programming using the latest in educational technology from the UK, the micro: bit and the Kano computer. The workshop marked the introduction of the micro:bit and Kano computers for the first time in a public library in Bangladesh and provided a preview of the devices before they become publicly available in public libraries soon. The devices will be rolled out nationwide to public libraries as an open resource for individual library users and teaching organisations such as BdOSN (Bangladesh Open Source Network). The workshop was well attended with an enthusiastic response from the participants, teachers and librarians alike. This success is marked as a reference point while spreading similar workshops nationwide.

The workshop not only introduced 21st-century technology to the students in the class, but it also opened a broad avenue of interests among the young students. Their testimonials and feedback were collected to bring forward more workshops in different parts of Bangladesh, in efforts to modernise libraries and integrate the language of computers in educational curriculums.

Participant 14-year-old Hridita Hasan, commented “Today’s coding workshop is different and will greatly help to develop knowledge about technology. I am thrilled to take part in this workshop.” Md. Nazmul Hasan, also14 years old, commented: “I’ve never done computer programming before, it felt terrific doing it for the first time, I want to do it in future as well.” Samia Islam Othoi, 14, commented “I’ve felt something pleasantly different by taking part in this coding workshop. I think this workshop needs to be spread out all over Bangladesh so that students from different districts can take part in it.”

Ms Rafia Sultana, the Munshiganj Public Library librarian, said “The programming workshop is a great initiative to introduce new technologies to school goers. This type of program will have a great impact in changing the common perception of libraries and publicise the library as a centre for interactive learning.”

The Munshiganj coding workshop was appreciated both by the participants, teachers and the librarians who expressed the need to spread similar workshops across the country. It is worth mentioning that 55% of the total participants were female. The feedback received from the workshop have been analysed and will now be used as a basis to fine tune the future seminars for more significant effect. In the next few months, the British Council will run many introductory pilot workshops in different parts of the country. Eventually, the Kano computer toolkits and the micro: bits will be made available to all the public libraries in Bangladesh, and long-term coding courses will be rolled out and guided by trained volunteers.