The Directorate General of Family Planning (DGFP) under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, in a bid to automate their business processes at community and facility levels, introduced digital eMIS tools throughout the country. The eMIS is an ecosystem of mobile apps and web-based applications accessed through mobile devices and Internet. The users of eMIS tools are comprised of different category of providers at community and facility settings in the rural areas as well as their supervisors and managers, central level officials. The users are heterogeneous and could be subdivided into several groups, who have significant diversities in terms of age, education, position and experience. Different categories have access to apps specific to their job or web based applications that support their supervisory and management functions.
The introduction of digital technologies brought changes in the way the field level workers performed their jobs. They did not lack skills to perform in their assigned positions. But, the well-established manual systems got a jolt. The users had to learn how to manage the digital medium and for many this became daunting, though not unattainable.
Exposure to digital literacy comes us with certain challenges. They users need to learn to handle mobile Tablet, manage Internet connectivity, wade through the modules/screens, perform data sync, keep updating new version of app (software), etc. Therefore, elaborate training courses were designed and implemented before introduction of eMIS tools. Technical support was also provided when required.
The implementation of eMIS started in 2015 as a pilot in 2 districts. By the end of 2019, it was introduced to 25 districts of Bangladesh. The DGFP aimed to cover all 64 districts of the country by 2023. Maintaining the speed of expansions of eMIS became challenging with onset of COVID-19 Pandemic. Efforts to contain the pandemic resulted in lockdown and other measures, that restricted movement from one place to another as well meetings in large groups, social distancing etc.
In this backdrop, the eMIS partners in discussion with the DGFP, started developing courses for online training. After evaluating different open-source solutions, Moodle was chosen as the platform for online distance learning. Moodle is a free and open-source learning management system (LMS). Moodle is, among others, used for distance education and e-learning projects in schools, universities, workplaces and other sectors. Moodle can be customized and hosted on private websites with online courses for educators and trainers to achieve learning goals.
The eMIS apps are available for the FWAs using FWA eRegister, FPIs using FPI eSupervision System, Facility eRegisters for Family Welfare Volunteers and Sub-Assistant Community Medical Officer. The materials for conducting trainings were already available. Those were converted into online courses. In addition, many short courses were developed to cater to the different needs of the users. Learning materials include: Videos, pdf files, PowerPoint presentations, Microsoft Word documents, Excel sheets, infographics etc. Videos are also posted on dedicated eMIS YouTube channel. Topic wise Quizzes have been developed to test the skills of learning. The trainers can use the learning materials during Live Demonstration and the trainees can access the materials at any time. In addition, user manuals are also available for the participants. The courses could also be used by the instructors in a class room setting.
The development of courses allowed the DGFP to continue the training courses. Between March 2029 and end of June 2021 the number of districts were increased from 25 to 37. Between June 2021 and June 2022, community systems were expanded from 183 to 228 and facility systems from 150 to 227 upazilas (sub-districts). When restrictions were withdrawn, physical training programs were resumed. But dependence on online materials remained or the courses became hybrid which expanded the ability of both the trainers and trainees to pursue the courses in a classroom setting or from home.
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