Education/Newsletter/December 2015/Wikimedia Bangladesh's new secondary school education program aims to increase Bangla Wikipedia readers
By Nahid Sultan, Wikimedia Bangladesh
Snippet: Secondary school awareness programs drive Bangla Wikipedia usage
Wikimedia Bangladesh (WMBD) is conducting secondary level school programs in different schools in Bangladesh named a "Wikipedia Awareness Program". This program is specially designed to encourage students to effectively use Wikipedia or other Wikimedia projects for their benefit, rather than to contribute to it. As part of Bangla Wikipedia 10th anniversary celebration, it is the first time in the country that Wikipedia-related events took place in secondary schools.
A total of nine awareness programs have been held in different secondary schools since it was started in June 2015. Local Wikipedians, school teachers, and cultural clubs helped to organize these events. Each event was attended by an average of 70 students from the 9th through the 12th grades. The participating schools are: Shaheed Police Smrity School in Mirpur in Dhaka, Motijheel Government Boys' High School, Agrabad Government Colony High School (Boys' & Girls' Sections), Chittagong Collegiate School and College, Government Muslim High School, Government Science College Attached High School and Rajshahi Collegiate School. The last event was held at Patgram upazila in Rangpur and attended by students from six different institutes. Some of the teachers at those schools have expressed their interest to suggest Wikipedia for gathering information for academic purposes to their students. And one school has started a WikiClub, which is moderated by a teacher and is filled by interested students from all grades.
People throughout Bangladesh are not aware of Wikipedia. These school programs and events directly address the issue of increasing readership among students. Because, in order to increase Wikipedia contributors, first it is necessary to increase Wikipedia readership. During the past several years in the Wikimedia movement in Bangladesh, we have seen that most of the regular contributors are students, either in university or in college. Some are also from secondary schools. We determined that, if a large number of the school-going students use Wikipedia for learning purposes, more Wikipedia contributors would emerge. But currently, not a majority of the school-students use Wikipedia at all.
To be more effective and sustainable as a Wikimedia community, we must increase readership among school-going students in Bangladesh. Our hope is that these sorts of school programs will entice students to use Wikipedia for their benefit, and bring in teachers that can expand the program and sustain it through the years.