Information Technology Education in Bangladesh
The introduction of the first four bit Intel microprocessor 4004 in 1971 and the subsequent overwhelming growth of personal computer’s use in every sphere of life has established the very truth that development in IT sector will be the primary key to a nation’s success. Realizing this truth upon observing the success history of some neighbour countries like India, Srilanka, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and many others, Bangladesh Government has recently declared IT as a thrust sector and has already implemented some key recommendations of the historic JAG commission report [ Some of these are the waiving of the duties and taxes from software in 1998 and waiving of the same from hardware in the 1998-99 budget, offering tax holidays for 5 consecutive years, adopting prompt steps in order to enact Intellectual Property Rights Law and the creation of special funds to provide working capital loan to the young entrepreneurs without any collateral [ JAG commission report has pin pointed the problems in IT human resource development and has highlighted the following deficiencies in IT education area:
1. Course curricula for computer-related education followed in the Universities do not fully reflect the requirements of the IT industry.
2. The number of graduates in computer- related subjects produced by the Universities each year is fairly less than the actual requirement.
3. Substantial number of such graduates leave the country for overseas employment.
4. There is no planned scheme to increase computer literacy.
Here we present an overview of IT education in Bangladesh putting aside the topic of IT training for the time being. Starting with a brief history we furnish data indicating the gradual progress that has been recently made in IT education area for human resource development in Bangladesh. The problems hindering the growth of adequate manpower in this sector and impeding the achievement of proper international standard have been pointed out. Differences between education and training have been highlighted to emphasize giving prime importance in IT education and to argue that international standard in IT education can only ensure firm footing in IT training. We have made several recommendations to come out of the present problems and to create a healthy atmosphere for the rapid growth of IT education in our country.
2. Growth of IT Education in Bangladesh
Application of computers in industry, business, communication, education and in every other sphere of life demands the extensive introduction of computer education from primary to postgraduate level. IT has immediate implication in our social, commercial and domestic life and it can significantly contribute to the economy as has been experienced in almost every developed country. Formal education in computer was first started in 1984 with the foundation of Computer Science and Engineering Department in Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology. The IT education thereafter gradually extended to Bachelor, Higher Secondary and Secondary levels. This section describes the introduction IT education in Primary and Junior Secondary, Secondary and Higher Secondary, Diploma, Undergraduate and Postgraduate levels along with the existing problems and their possible remedies.
2.1 Primary and Junior Secondary Level
The first five years and the next three years of education constitute the Primary and Junior Secondary level respectively. Bengali and English languages, History, Geography, General Science, Mathematics and Religion are the major subjects taught at these levels. Students become, in a very small scale, aware of computers and their vast application through their General Science text books. No formal education on IT has been introduced at these levels. Because of the poor economic condition, majority of the schools in the country cannot afford to buy computers for their students. Though a small number of city based schools have a very limited computer laboratory facilities, yet they fail to make their students familiar with internet, emails and related technology because of the lack of nationwide telecommunication infrastructure and internet facilities. In addition, the teaching community of these levels lacks the minimum level of IT training. We recommend the following for the Primary and Junior Secondary level students:
1. General Science text books should adequately cover fundamental concepts on computers and their numerous applications. Differences between hardware and software, system software and application packages, history of computers and their use, classification of computers, concept of computer network, internet and emails, introduction to computer peripherals and input/output devices should be introduced.
2. Rural electrification should be extended up to the remotest area in the country.
3. Short term training on IT should be provided to teachers at Primary and Junior Secondary levels.
4. Until telecommunication infrastructure improves and internet facilities are provided at school levels, mass communication media like Television and Radio can regularly broadcast programs showing hands on use of computers, emails and internet to makeup the present deficiencies.
5. Special care should be taken to improve the English language ability of the students.
6. Expatriate Bangladeshis may arrange to buy second hand (recently outdated but powerful enough) computers at either free or small cost and to distribute them to schools at their home. Bangladesh Government may take appropriate measures to turn the aforementioned job of the expatriates a bit easier. For example, Bangladeshi missions at abroad may collect computers from expatriates and then send them to Bangladesh by national fleet at free of cost.
7. Gradually Computer Aided Education and Learning System should be introduced at Primary and Junior Secondary levels. Course curricula would have to be adjusted accordingly.
8. One of the development activities of the Non Government Organizations might be to come forward to enlighten the students with IT at remote and poverty striken areas.
2.2 Secondary and Higher Secondary Level
The 9th and 10th year of a school going student and the next two years of a college going student constitute the Secondary and Higher Secondary level respectively. Computer Science education has been launched as an optional subject for the Secondary level students from the beginning of 1994 [and about one hundred fifty schools were permitted to start up the subject. Many more schools have shown interest and the quantitative expansion of IT education in Secondary level is phenomenal. To encourage computer education at Secondary levels, Government is providing one computer to each of the selected 396 schools of the country. Government has taken initiative to train the teaching staffs for effective and successful teaching of the subject.
Board of intermediate and secondary education, Dhaka has launched Computer Science education in 1991 [ as an optional subject. Only a very few colleges offered Computer Science course at that time. Nearly fifty colleges introduced Computer Science course as an optional subject for science stream students in the first quarter of 1994 and with the reduction of price of computer hardware, this number is expected to exceed five hundred by 2000. Computer Science subject has been introduced at Secondary level in vocational training institutes of the country in 1995 and the education has been gradually extended to higher secondary vocational training institutes.
The lack of trained teachers, laboratory facilities, internet and email connection and above all incomplete and not up to date course curricula is seriously hampering the IT education in Secondary and Higher Secondary levels. The problems in the first three areas can be remedied by following the recommendations described in section
2.1. In addition, we recommend the following measures:
1. Computer Science should be made a compulsory subject at both Secondary and Higher Secondary levels.
2. Course curricula should be revised at intervals of not more than two years. As a result, application packages and programming languages which are being taught in these levels can be updated on a regular basis. Complaints have been heard that students are learning application packages w have been already outdated and are not at all used in the industry.
3. A significant portion of Laboratory marks should be allotted to a large programming project which the students are expected to develope by themselves following a systematic software development cycle.
4. Computer assembling and trouble shooting may be incorporated at Higher Secondary level. In addition typing skill may be developed at the same time. As a result students who fail to step into higher education for socio-economic reasons may develop their career as data entry operator or as hardware assembler.
5. National contest on hardware and software and on programming skill can be arranged at least once in a year.
6. IT week like Science week can be observed to promote and inspire IT education at the deepest root of the society.
2.3 Diploma Level
Twenty polytechnic institutes of the country are offering three year Diploma course in Engineering subjects. School leaving students can take admission into this three year Diploma course. Three polytechnics of the country have launched three years Diploma in Computer Engineering in1994 and at present nearly 400 students are taking admission in every year. However how this large manpower would be efficiently utilized in our IT sector is yet to be known. Board of Technical Education has started a project for developing course materials for Computer Engineering Diploma. It has been seen that in many cases semi skilled manpower has been chosen for course material development which would probably have adverse effect in future. Bangladesh Open University is now offering three semester Diploma in computer applications. Course curricula in Diploma level should be revised on a regular basis to meet the present needs and teaching staffs should be adequately trained.
2.4 Undergraduate and Post Graduate Level
2.4.1 National and Public Universities and Institutes
Bangladesh University of Engineering and technology (BUET) first introduced the formal education in Information Technology in 1984 by launching the Masters program in Computer Science and Engineering. Undergraduate courses started from 1986 with the first intake in 1987. The initial enrollment was 30 per year which has been subsequently increased to 45 and now the intake is 60 per year. It has be observed that with a very few exceptions the very best students get enrolled in this department. BUET is now running six batches consisting of a total of 310 students and already a total of 205 students graduated from this department. Masters program in BUET attracts 50 students per year and until now 60 students have completed their postgraduate curricula.
Dhaka University started their one year Masters program in Computer Science in 1993 with a total of 20 students and the present enrollment in this program is around
31. Dhaka University started their Undergraduate program in 1995 and they are currently running six batches with a total of 66 students got admitted into undergraduate program in 1999. Besides, some Computer related courses such as Microprocessors and programming languages are taught in Applied Physics and Electronics department.
Following the introduction of formal courses in Computer Science in BUET, other public Universities came forward to start undergraduate curricula. For example, Rajshahi and Jahangir Nagar University established Computer Science department in 1993 and the first batch graduated in 1998. Their yearly intake is 25 and 30 respectively. Khulna University and Shahjalal University of Science and Technology introduced undergraduate program in 1991 and 1992 respectively and their yearly intake was 20 and 30 respectively. Their current intake is 35 and 60 respectively. In 1999, four Bangladesh Institute of Technologies (BITs) introduced undergraduate program in Computer Science and Engineering. Each individual BIT’s intake has been decided to be 60 per year. Islamic Institute of Technology run by Organization for Islamic Countries (OIC) has launched four years B.Sc. course in Computer Science and Information Technology from 1999 and the yearly intake is around 40. Besides, Bangladesh National University is now offering four year B.Sc. Honours course in Computer Science for a total of 400 students at six institutions in Dhaka.
Not only the name of the degrees, namely Computer Science, Computer Science and Engineering, Electronics and Computer Science etc. offered by the public Universities varies, but there is also substantial differences in course curricula and degree requirement. Different organizations face problems in recruiting Computer Science graduates because they cannot compare candidates who have graduated from different Universities. Students also face problems in getting admission to post graduate programs in different Universities.
The second major and the biggest problem is the acute shortage of faculties in the aforementioned Universities. For example, Shahjalal University of Science and Technology in its Electronics and Computer Science department has a total of twenty teachers, among them only two are Ph.D. holders. Khulna University Computer Science and Engineering department has around fifteen teachers, of them only two are Ph.D. holders. Computer Science and Engineering department of BUET has around twenty six teachers, among them only six are Ph.D. holders. Worse situation exists at other universities and institutes.
The lack of internet and email connection for students, insufficient laboratory facilities, lack of books and ournals, absence of interaction with the industries are the main causes to the suffering of our undergraduate students. We recommend the following measures to improve this grave situation:
1. There should be uniformity in course curricula and degree requirements. Course curricula should be rOvised at no more than two years intervals.
2. At present, most of the software are web enabled and they work in internet environment. Lack of intensive internet facilities at Universities are depriving students from learning web enabled software and applications. If the present situation continues, our students will soon become outdated with respect to this rapidly changing world.
3. High speed campus backbone network is a prerequisite for present day computing. Since the internet speed is prohibitively slow, off line down loading and subsequent storage in a central server may give access to the students with their requisite information. In addition, high speed campus backbone network will change the work environment quite dramatically and routine official and academic jobs will be done more efficiently and smoothly.
4. Since there is an acute shortage of qualified teachers, expatriate Bangladeshis working at foreign Universities may be invited as visiting faculties at least once a year. If such opportunities are created many Bangladeshis will be interested to come forward to disseminate their expertise.
5. Postgraduate program should be strengthened. Most of the graduates leaving the country for higher studies are not coming back. A rigorous and standard postgraduate program will be able to encourage more students to complete their higher study in the country and eventually fill up the current vacuum of qualified teaching stuffs.
6. Laboratory facilities should be considerably increased. Extra allocation in yearly budget should be reserved for Computer Science departments. At present Computer Science departments are treated as any other department within a University and their special need is most often completely and shamelessly ignored.
7. Books and journals should be made available in the University libraries.
8. Short term internship with the industry will be beneficial for the students.
9. Number of students in different Computer Science departments have recently been doubled at the instruction of the Government. However, Government has not allocated any extra funds to increase infrastructure and logistic facilities which have aggravated the present poor condition of most of the departments. The present demand needs many more students to be shifted from other disciplines to Computer Science and at the same time the logistic facilities should be proportionately increased.
2.4.2 Private Universities and Institutes
Recently a number of private universities have been established with Computer Science as their major department because of tremendous demand of this subject among the college passing students. North South University (NSU), the first private University in Bangladesh, launched undergraduate program in Computer Science in 1993 with 30 students in their first batch. Currently students are getting admitted thrice a year and in 1999 their total intake was 109. A total of 60 students have already graduated from NSU and it has plan to start Computer Engineering curricula by 2000.
AMA International University of Bangladesh (AIUB), established in 1994, is offering Bachelor program in Computer Science, Computer Engineering and Management Information System. Their yearly intake is around 100.
Ahsanullah University of Science and Technology (AUST), established in 1995, offers undergraduate program in Computer Science and Engineering. Their yearly enrollment is around 150 and the first batch of 45 students graduated in 1999. The total number of students in this discipline is now around 480.
University of Asia Pacific, established in 1996, is offering undergraduate program in Computer Science and Technology and in Computer Science and nformatics. Their intake is around 80 per semester. A total of 293 students are now studying at this University and the first batch is expected to come Out by March, 2000. East West University, established in 1997, is offering Bachelor degree in Computer Science and it has now a total of 350 students. Queen’s University established in the same year is
– offering Bachelor degree in Computer Science and Engineering and currently around 425 students are studying at this University. Asian University of Bangladesh, established in 1999, is offering undergraduate program in Computer Science and Engineering with yearly intake around 100. A total of 234 students are now studying at this University. Comilla University started offering Masters in Computer Application from mid 1998 and their present enrollment is 35 per semester. Islamic University at Chittagong has established Computer Science and Technology department under Modern Science in 1995 and their intake is around 30 students per year.
Private Universities are seriously suffering from an acute shortage of teaching staffs. They are mainly run by part time teachers. Most of the private Universities do not have adequate laboratory facilities. Their course curricula are not uniform either. A student needs to earn 161 credit hours to graduate from Computer Science and Engineering department of BUET whereas he/she needs to earn a much smaller number of credit hours (in the range of 120) to graduate from a private University. Extra credit hours are required to teach the students some extra foundation courses on Mathematics, General Science and Humanaties to cover up the shortage in Secondary and Higher Secondary levels. Since students who get admitted to private Universities are not exceptionally meritorious compared to the public University students, their degree requirement in terms of total credit hours earned should be as stringent as that of public Universities. The tution fees of most of the private Universities are prohibitively high, therefore only well off students can take admission into private Universities. However, most of the private Universities do not suffer from session jam and they are maintaining their academic calendar quite nicely.
3. Research Activities
For the last 3 years vigorous efforts have been made to improve the condition of IT education and research. Since 1997 conferences both national and international have been organized successfully with publication of 64, 56 and 60 papers respectively with the participation of renowned academicians from abroad. The paper acceptance rate was around 50%, i.e., only 50 out of 100 papers were accepted based on their technical quality and the quality was judged by foreign experts. Topics of the presented papers in these conferences include Machine Learning, Pattern Recognition, Algorithms, Bangla Text Processing, Microprocessors and Microprocessor based System Design, VLSI Design, Networking and Communication and so on. The first national conference on Information Technology was organized by Dhaka University Computer Science department in 1997. Thereafter the first International Conference on Computer and Information Technology was organized by Computer Science and Engineering department of BUET in 1998. After a grand success in this conference and participation of renowned academicians from abroad encouraged Shahjalal University of Science and Technology to organize it for the second time in 1999. This international conference has now turned into en annual event and this year (year 2000) North South University has been given the responsibility to organize it. Very encouraging observation in these conferences is massive and strong participation of the undergraduate students. For more than 75% papers undergraduate students are the co-authors.
For the last 3 years the undergraduate students are massively participating in co curricular activities like world’s biggest and most prestigious ACM Programming Contests. BUET students have qualified to participate in the World Finals for 3 time in a row. This year BUET students and Dhaka University students participated in lIT Kanpur ACM regional programming contest securing 1 and 2 positions respectively. AMA students occupied 12 position in a field of 60 teams.
4. IT Education and Training
IT Training usually spans a short period of time and it attempts to develop specialized skill in a vendor specific product. Training is important to adapt oneself with the rapidly changing technologies and it broadens the job opportunity of a computer professional in both national and international job market. The needs and subject of choice in IT training rapidly evolves with time and an area which is very lucrative now may turn out obsolete in one or two years time.
Education offers a much broader area of knowledge and sustains over a much longer period of time. The core technology underpinning the present development in IT are taught in an educational institution. Therefore, the knowledge acquired by a University. student does not get obsolete so easily. Rather if that student remains aware of the changes that are taking place in IT, he/she can always fruitfully contribute to the IT industry. On the other hand, training is not supposed to offer a student the requisite background knowledge. Therefore, a strong educational background in IT can only ensure the development of skilled manpower in this sector. Semi skilled manpower can be developed through training and they may be employed in special purpose jobs for meeting short term needs, but in the long run University graduates with good IT educational
background is an absolute necessity for the true development in IT sector.
5. National IT Academy
The acute shortage of qualified teaching staffs and insufficient infrastructural and logistic facilities in most of the Universities are the bottle neck to the achievement of international standard in IT education. One of the visible solutions is to centralize the available resources and to establish a national IT academy. Computer Science, Computer Science and Engineering and related subjects are the only subjects which will be taught in the proposed academy. On average two to five qualified teachers are available in each Public University. However, together this is a big number. If we make them available in the proposed National Academy and small budgets allocated to each Public University is put together to be utilized for the National Academy, annually two thousand (or more) good quality IT graduates can be produced without much effort. However, we have to find out a way to shift the already enrolled students in different Public Universities to the proposed National Academy. In the proposed National Academy, there will be uniformity in the course curricula, there will be adequately trained teaching staffs, there will be cost effective solutions to provide email and internet facilities among the students, there will be adequate library facilities and so on. In addition, the proposed National Academy may contribute significantly to national policy making and may gradually emerge as a key organization in national IT sector.
Bangladesh Government has given priority on IT so that she can emerge as a major software exporting country in a minimum span of time. Keeping this objective in mind, most of the Universities have recently increased the number of students in this field. However, the annual total output of IT graduates is still much lower than the present need. However, only increasing the number of annual enrollment in Computer Science education will do more harms if it is not accompanied by a proportionate increase in laboratory, internet, classroom and other logistic facilities. We have made several recommendations for the rapid establishment of strong IT educational infrastructure at every level of education. Implementing these recommendations without any further delay may bring our goal into reality.
1. Chowdhury, J. R. Information Technology in Bangladesh; Proceedings of the International Conference on Computer and Information Technology, Dec 18-20, Dhaka, Bangladesh
2. Chowdhury, J. R. Problems and Prospects of Sottware Export from Bangladesh; Journal of The Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh (Multidisciplinary); vol. 23 and 24, No. 1 and 2, Dec. 1989-99
3. Hanif Bin Azhar, Abdus Sobhan, M., Lutfor Rahman, M. Research Activities on Information Technology in Bangladesh; Proceedings of the National Conference on Computer and Information Systems, 1997, Dhaka, Bangladesh
4. Lutfor Rahman, M. and Hanif bin Azhar, Md. Computer Education in Bangladesh; Proceedings of the International Conference on Computer and Information Technology, Dec 18. 20, Dhaka, Bangladesh
5. National Curricula and Textbook Board, 1996 Higher Secondary Certificate curricula, 1994
6. National Curricula and Textbook Board, 1996 Secondary School Certificate curricula, 1994
Co-Curricular Activities in Computer Science in Bangladesh
Computer Science and Engineering is a relatively new discipline in Bangladesh. Formal education in this discipline started with the opening of the Department of Computer Engineering in BUFT in 1982. Since then the related departments were opened in KhuIna, Jahangirnagar, Shahja]al, Ra and Dhaka universities. Private universities in most eases started their academic curricula with the opening of relevant departments. Most meritorious students of the country opted for education in this area. In spite of a dearth of faculty members in the initial days with the initiative of younger faculty members having education in allied fields and with the guidance of a few senior faculty members our students got interested and committed to achieving excellent education in the field. ‘This is why in spite of severe shortage of teachers brilliant students opted for this discipline for their education and career.
In spite of all these limitations students and faculty members of this discipline are working very hard to strengthen their position in the field. It may he mentioned here that in the field of computer science we as well as our students are taking initiative to he involved in co-curricular activities like doing research and developing skill through participation in programming contests. These are the two topics I would like to highlight in this article on.
Let me now discuss our initiatives to improve programming skill of our students through participation in the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest. For the last five years computer students of Bangladesh have got the unique opportunity of participating in programming contests organized by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) international Computer Programming Contest (ICPC). It may be mentioned here that in 1993 the Computer Jagat organized a programming contest for four different age groups. Then in 1995 six school students Nasa, Fahim, Paris, Alen and Opu participated in a programming contest in Colombo during November 1- 10, organized by South East Asian Regional Computer Confederation In the year 2000 Computer Jagat again organized a programming contest in collaboration with USAID. However, organizing programming contests became regular only with the introduction of ACM ICPC Asia regional Contest held at North South University in 1997.
Association for Computing Machinery
(ACM) is the most prestigious and largest body e computer professionals. It was established in 1947 and is the first educational and scientific computing society with over 80,000 professionals and students as its members. To move computing education and research forward ACM initiates and executes a set of activities like hosting programming contests, recognizing academic activities of computer students and awarding the most prestigious Turing awards to distinguished academicians for their contribution to computer science and information technology.
This particular event of organizing programming contests with the participation of students from around the world does have a fir-reaching influence, This motivates students to earn excellence in programming, and students do get the opportunity to compare their skill with the very best of the world. In the remaining portion of the article I shall he discussing this aspect of ACM, its history and growing participation of students in this contest in particular that of Bangladesh.
Different Statistics on ACM ICPC
In the following we present souse of the statistics that ire representative of the scale at which ACM has been organizing the event.
In year 1989 400 teams participated in 12 regional tram which 25 teams qualified in the World Final. Whereas in year 2001, 2168 teams participated in 30 regional of which 64 qualified for the final.
The above figures do indicate the success ACM has already achieved aver the years in inspiring different schools and their students in participating in the
prestigious ACM ICPC Programming Contest. I must also men here of the enormous role Professor Poucher and Marsha Puncher of ACM ICPC are playing [smooth participation of different teams from throughout the world. North South University hosted the regional contest from during 1997-2000. BUET organized the event in 2001 and is again organizing this yea!’. ACM Con tests at Dhaka Site did arouse a lot of interest in Bangladeshi students. 1_et us look at the statistics of Dhaka Site, which started functioning from 1997. In the very first appearance our team occupied 24th position in a field of 54 teams.
After 5 years involvement in the ACM Contest it now appears to me that in spite of the fact that the result was nowhere near our expectation, not in anyway substantiated by experience, this was a great success for’ us. Students gut inspiration from this and started improving their programming skill. This resulted in massive participation of our students in the largest Online Contest organized by the University of Valladolid, where once 18 Bangladeshi students were ranked in the list of topmost 25. It may be mentioned here that of these 18, 17 students were from BUET. in recognition of their feat the Honorable Prime Minister gave 9 students a cash award of Tk. One ac each in the concluding session of the Science Week of 19°9. A National Computer Programming Contest was also organized and hosted at Hotel Sheraton on the 5th of August, 1998 under the leadership of Zakaria Swapan, a BUET graduate and employee of Proshika Computer System with the participation of the Daily Star, in which the Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was the Chief Guest in the prize giving ceremony. Ibis did help grow a tremendous interest in students and the computing community.
In 1998 at Asia regional Dhaka Site 17th November Con test BUET teams clean sweeped the contest by occupying the first 4 positions. The Sri Lankan team came out 5th, BUET 6th, Sharif University of Technology 7th and Dhaka University 8th, IiT Kanpur at 11th and University of Delhi further down the list.
A total of 48 teams participated in this event with 4 teams from ill Kanpur, University of Delhi, University of Moratowa, Sri Lanka and Sharif University of Technology, Iran, Superiority of performance of Bangladeshi teams over the foreign ones was very convincing. It must be mentioned here that many of our local teams were ranked higher than some of the foreign teams. An indifferent performance at the 23rd ACM World Finals put a brake to students’ interest in the contest. Our students solved 2 problems and one more would have given them a rank. However, when Intra BUET programming contest was arranged by the Association of Computer and Electrical Students(ACES) it gave an impulse. The contest was arranged for seniors and juniors. The results of the contest were broadcast through the web and many Bangladeshis in Australia and USA did enjoy it online. Credit for successful holding of the contest must go to officials of ACES.
In 1999 Asia Regional Dhaka Site Contest on November 24, The Chinese University of Hong Kong became champion solving 5 problems, whereas the three BUET teams solved 4 problems each. Shanghai, Dhaka and AMA and FAST University of Pakistan occupied 5th, 6th, 7th and 12th positions solving respectively 3,2, 2 and I problems. Now after losing championship at home ground Bangladeshi students had to sail for lIT Kanpur to regain the championship and once again qualify for the prestigious World Finals of the ACM ICPC.
In year 2000 a National Computer Programming Contest was held where Dhaka University team became victorious. Many Bangladeshi teams participated in the regional contest held at Tehran, Taejon and IIT Kanpur showing tremendous interest of students and great support provided by our universities to this co-curricular activity. Massive participation of Bangladeshi students in online programming contests held around the world does indicate the enormous interest our students are having in it. Excellence in any field can only be achieved through healthy competition, which we have been able to create in this field.
Performance of our students at Valladolid Site
Our students have been participating in all forms of internet based contests with a lot of interest. It may be mentioned here that since the end of 1998 Rezaul Alarn Chowdhury headed the list of about 3000 programmers that participated in the programming contest organized by the University of Valladolid. Then for quite a while Shahriar Manzoor, another student ot the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, topped the list. In spite of the fact that the contest has not been organized for a specified period and students can spend as much time on it as they like, massive participation of Bangladeshi students is definitely encouraging. Our students are improving their skill. Since their participation Bangladesh also headed the list of countries by criterion of quality of submission, total number of correct submissions and average number of correct submission per participant. Taiwan is currently leading the table of countries with maximum number of problems solved and we are in third position behind Europe. i believe such participation of our students will go a long way in improving their skill. This also brings some name to the country. In the World Finals held at the Netherlands many academicians from other countries showed interest in our students since many of them visited the Valladolid site and were impressed by Bangladeshi participation. It may be mentioned here that a report by Shahriar Manzoor, as to how to solve problems, have been found so important by the Valladolid Authority that it has been posted by them to help students from all over the world.
Massive participation of our students in Valladolid OnOline contest does reflect interest of our students to sharpen their programming skill. Based upon the performance of participants from the same country this site also gives country ranking in order to raise a healthy environment of competition. The country ranking in this contest has been shown in the following table.
It may be mentioned here that with the initiative of Shahriar Manzur several on-line contests were held at Valladolid Site with the participation of many teams from different countries. Moreover, Rezaul Alam Chowdhury and Shahriar Manzur organized the warm-up contest for the World Finalists, which was also suggested by the contest director. All these events have raised the image of Bangladesh very high. In many of these contests students of BUET, Dhaka University, AMA and other universities excelled in performance. Shahriar Manzur’s problem solving guide has been posted in the web by the Valladolid management for the participating students all over the world. By now Shahriar Manzoor has been recognized as Valladolid Judge, and has been given the responsibility of organizing on-line contests world-wide.
Participation at IIT Kanpur ACM 1CPC1999
Losing the contest at Dhaka Site of ACM ICPC Regionals opened the door for Bangladeshi teams to measure their strength abroad. There was a saying that since the contest is held at Dhaka, BUET team was getting opportunity of participating in the World Finals. I took the team of Mustaq Ahmed, Munirut Ahedin and Md. Ruhaiyat Ferdous Jewel named BUET Loopers to lIT Kanpur Contest, 1999. Other teams participated from Bangladesh are Dhaka University, AMA International University and North South University. The contest was held on the 7th of December. Fifty nine teams participated- 4 from Bangladesh and I from Iran, and multiple teams from each of the lITs. In this contest BUET team solved 6 problems and became champion, whereas Dhaka University team became runner-up. This was a great achievement by Bangladeshi students over our more well-known neighbours specially I or their success in information Technology.
Participation of Bangladeshi Teams in the Regionals and
Bangladeshi students have so far participated in all the last S world finals held since they were introduced to this event. The first time BUET [ consisting of Suman Kumar Nath, Rezaul Atom Chowdhury and Tarique Meshaul Islam, the champions of ACM ICPC Asia Region Dhaka Site, and a team from North South University as hosts, participated in the 22nd World Finals held at Atlanta on February, 1998. In this contest BUET Team solved I problems and occupied 24th position. In November, 1998 BUET teams occupied the first 4 positions in the regional contest and the team of Farah Farzana, Mehedy Masud and Mojahedul Haque Ahul Hasanat, earned the right to participate in the World Finals, where NSU team also appeared as hosts. This time the 23rd Final was held at the Technical University of Eindhoven. BUET team solved 2 problems far below the expectation.
World Finals 2000
In late December, 1999 after we returned from Kanpur we got an invitation from Professor William Poucher, Director of ACM lCPC, also a Professor of Baylor University. Since the contest was scheduled to be held in mid March we contacted the American Embassy late January and faced visa on the 31st of January. The visa officer wanted to have the guarantee that my students would he coming back. I took 3 students to USA in February, 1998. 1 told him that they came back and these students would face no trouble to visit USA again, and there is C\ cry likelihood that they would be going to USA for higher studies. We were granted visa. We started our journey a little bit earlier on the 6th evening. ACM ICPC World Finals 2000 was hosted in the Radisson Universal Hotel Orlando, formerly known as Twin Tower Hotel. The hotel is housed in 2 approximately 20-storeyed building. Most of the top teams do have graduate students in the team. We do not have one Pappana, Mustaq and Ferdous, known for their accuracy, fell in to unusual problem of wrong submission in the very first problem. At 1430 local time the contest was over We went back to our room. By then Fappana, MListaq and Ferdous solved 4 problems F, E, A and B, and it was clear that we will be getting a ranking. After the ceremony many coaches congratulated me when I did not know our ranking. The event is so important for the coaches that many coaches could tell me our performance in the preceding World Finals. It was simply great to be congratulated by coaches of many well-known universities, whose teams by the way were behind us. American Professors were really appreciate of the performance of Bangladeshi teams and went that tar to say that now graduate admission and other facilities will be easier for our students. However, achievement of our students cannot be overemphasized. A contest that attracted 1968 teams drawn from 1041 universities of 69 countries dispersed in 6 continents and participated in 82 sites. From this 60 teams have come to the World Finals. We have one team from Bangladesh in this prestigious group. Not only that they occupied 11th position beating all the teams from American Universities.
Asia Regional 2000 :
Since we did not have a site at Dhaka our students had to participate in other sites. There was a massive participation of Bangladeshi teams at ITT Kanpur. About one year back both the champion and runner—up positions were occupied by Bangladeshi teams. In 2000, 3 teams from BUET, 2 each from East West, Asia Pacific, AMA universities and one each from Dhaka, IUB and North South universities participated in this 69-team contest. Bangladeshi students got a lot of coverage at lIT IKanpur by dint of their strong performance in 1999. The team of Mustaq Ahmed, Munirul Abedin and Ahdullah-AI became champion. T hi s result a g a in reconfirmed strong position of Bangladeshi students in ACM contests.
World Finals 2001 In regional contests of year 2001 2,160 teams from 1,079 universities of 70 countries on 6 continents participated in the 89 sites. Moreover, in the preliminaries about 2,700 teams participated. These figures do indicate the tremendous interest this contest has been attracting throughout the world. In World Finals 2001 our students could solve 3 problems and occupied 29th position.
World Finals 2002 :
In year 2002 BUET team qualified for the 26th World Finals held at Honolulu, Hawaii by being champion at Dhaka Site, while AIUB got wild card from both Dhaka Site and lIT Kanpur Site. In the contest our teams could not do well and were in the honourable mention. Each of the teams solved one problem each, a performance that is far below the ability of our students. However, this participation of BUET in the World Finals five times in a row has put B in the very elite class among the prestigious universities. Hospitality of Mr. Jan Runii was more than inspiring.
Programming Contests in year 2002 :
This year American International University organized a country-wide programming contest with the participation of 67 teams from all universities. This has increased the interest of participation in programming con tests. A tri-university programming contest was recently organized by North South university. There was a programming contest at TUB Chittagong among universities of Chittagong region. Another contest was held at International Islamic University Chittagong with the participation of teams from local universities. Another contest, with the participation of all universities, is being held at South East University on 2nd of November, 2002. The hosting of programming con tests by different universities has become a culture now. Notre Dame College organizes an inter-college programming contest every year. College teachers association also organizes a programming contest on yearly basis. BUET is hosting internal contest on regular basis. So is the case with North South University, AIUB, East West University, TUB, IIUC, Ahsanullah University, SUST and other universities. Independent University Bangladesh Chittagong and International Islamic University Chittagong organized contests for Chittagong-based universities. American International University Bangladesh organized an inter-university Programming Con test with the participation of most of the universities. There were as many as 66 teams in the contest including one from Notre Dame College and Engineering University School. Formal in tra-university programming contests were held in East West, North South, Ahsanullah and other universities. Daffodil International University, Independent University Bangladesh and other universities are also keen to organize nation—wide inter— university programming contests. lspahani Group ahs also shown interest to organize a country-wide programming contest at Chittagong. Our universities have taken it as a matter of prestige to do well in these contests since there are no more competitions among universities. Sadly in our country universities are not ranked. So there is no way of recognizing achievements of individual universities. This indifference to performance and achievements is definitely felling upon quality of our education. However, programming contests with the participation of our universities is giving rise to a healthy competition among university students and community to be more skilled in programming. For a country like ours with a very high population density and not much resource other than human resources any sign of hope in the improvement of our lot will necessarily come through development of human resources. What else other than information Technology can play a decisive role in this regard?
Programming Contests should be held
If we are to do something astounding in the field of computing, keep our mark iii this technology through capturing a reasonable portion of software export market we must develop our manpower since that is the only resource we have in abundance. This can be done through inspiring our young students /people in improving their skill. Contests are the right events that can elevate skill of our students. We must develop a new culture in our society. In spite of wasting our efforts organizing events that are not expected to improve our economy we must organized programming contests. This should be done by universities, clubs, computer societies, nationally and in colleges as it is done at Notre Dame. At least the organizations using information technology should sponsor these events. Fortunately, universities are showing tremendous interest, Many universities are organizing internal contests with lucrative incentives to winners. American International University already hosted a nation-wide programming contest with the participation of over 65 teams. North South University organized a tn- university contest with the participation of Dhaka University and BUET. Independent University Bangladesh expressed interest to host a nation-wide programming contest in a prestigious hotel. Daffodil International University is also eagerly waiting to host one. Other universities are also showing interest to play their role in strengthening the culture of programming contests.
In the last five years’ participation, achievement of our students in world wide competitions appears more significant than our achievement in any field where we have been trying years after years. There is no doubt that we are stronger in our brains as is evident also in having Niaz Morshed as the first grandmaster of the subcontinent. Our resources are limited we must utilize it optimally, we must use it in areas where expectation of return is high. We have too much manpower to utilize at home. We should train then to improve their skill so that they can contribute to national economy in many ways even by going abroad.
Computer Education and Research in Bangladesh.
Since 1997 we have been organizing conferences in computer field. With the initiative of the department of Computer Science of Dhaka University and all-out support from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology the first National Conference on Computers and Information Systems was held. 100 research papers were submitted for publications of which 64 were published on the eve of the conference. In the very next year at BUET we organized International Conference on Computer and Information Technology (ICCIT) 117 manuscript were submitted of which 63 were published, it may he mentioned here that our undergraduate students made significant contribution in this conference — a praiseworthy feat which even students of very famous universities can be proud of. The next conference was organized by Shahjalal University of Science and Technology. Of the 98 manuscripts submitted 57 were published in the proceedings. In year 2000 the conference was organized by North South University. Of the 104 submitted manuscripts 51 were published in the proceedings. ICCIT2001 was organized by Dhaka University. Of the 96 submitted manuscripts 64 were published in the proceedings. This year there has been remarkable jump in interest and performance of our faculty members and students. A record 212 manuscripts were submitted of which 118 will he published in the proceedings. Professor Mozammel Haque Azad Khan of East West University and his colleagues deserve the credit of inspiring all of us do research at this level where more than 150 manuscripts have been submitted from within the country. Moreover, our conference has now been listed at prestigious listing sites. It must also be mentioned that we have been methodically following rigorous reviewing process, where local manuscripts are reviewed by foreign academicians. Over all these years, contribution of our undergraduate students in these conferences were really remarkable and praiseworthy. In a country, where research works are treated as very secondary matters even in research institutions and universities, computer science community of the country deserves all the credit for their efforts of uplifting the image of the country through their dedication in research, which otherwise will not he bring any kind of mundane benefit. However, this effort of ours has led to our graduates now getting admitted into finest schools of the world. For the last 15 years more and more universities opened departments in this field. Nationally we also aspired for changing lot of our distressed people through the golden touch of information technology. Unfortunate in none of our efforts did appear that computer education should he given some priority. There were directives from the Government to double in take in relevant disciplines without really giving any commitment to improving laboratory facilities and development of faculty resources. Excellence of education at IBA Dhaka was initiated by the services of qualified faculty members from abroad as it was done in IITs, in India. In our case quality of education did not get any priority With an indifferent image of the country internationally any breakthrough into multi—billion dollar IT World trade to have our share could only be achieved through excellence in our programming nod other relevant skill. Just take the example of India. There are 7 IlTs in India, and India is over 7 times as large as Bangladesh, and earns possible about 7(10 times as much as we earn from IT. in this billion dollar business Ill graduates are aptly guiding the industry. To meet the aspiration of the people and the nation, at BUET we increased yearly intake of CSE Department from 30 to 4 then 60 and then 120. What should we expect from IITs. Each lIT has an intake of 45 to 50 students. Now, look at the quality of T1T faculty members. Each of them has 20 to 30 faculty members, each of whom is a doctorate degree holder, and about 60 ‘1 are professors. It is better not to compare our strength in this regard. We are late in this field. Moreover, we have a serious problem with our image in science and technology in which case India is having a much better image although living in the same level of economic development. In addition to this we are left with inadequate trained faculty members to teach so many bright students. We should have given a lot more attention to develop faculty members instead of increasing our intake, When you are a late starter you can enter into the field only through your superior quality.
Contribution of Professionals
I must mention here that participation of IILIET team in the finals in 1998 was made possible with the help of Mr. Kamal through obtaining financial contribution from Beximco. In 1999 Proshika Computer Systems and Bangladesh Biman came forward to extend support in addition to the support from BUET Bangladesh Computer Samitee came forward to support our participation in year 2000 contest. Mr. SM Iqbal of ISN extended his hands of support for participation in 2001 World Finals. Mr. Sajjad Hossain of IBM, GIS, BASIC Bank, Spectrum Engineering Consortium and Flora made contributions for smooth participation of o teams in the world Finals and the regionals and in the hosting of the regional contests. BASIC Bank, Computer jagat and Global Online Ltd. are sponsoring some of the events of this years regional contest. Expatriate Bangladeshis also took a lot of interest in our students participating in this event, Let us develop and nourish a thinking youth, more logical population and a meritorious nation.