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UISC Blog: A popular grassroots blog in Bangladesh

Abstract:

uiscbd.ning.com is a popular grassroots blog in Bangladesh where the UISC (Union Information & Service Centre - Government run Telecentre) entrepreneurs participate in open discussion in order to make the UISC effective and sustainable. This discussion includes problems, solutions, new ideas, leadership and innovative initiatives. Now it has become a dynamic online communication platform for 9002 young entrepreneurs of 4501 UISCs and half of them are women. When any entrepreneur writes any problem related to UISC, other entrepreneurs are providing quickly solutions on that point. As a result, the entrepreneurs leadership quality is increasing, they are getting chance to explore themselves using their innovative ideas; officers of local administration (Divisional Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner-DC, Additional Deputy Commissioner-ADC, Upazila Nirbahi Officer-UNO) are also providing solutions from their end. It has become a powerful mobilization and follow up tool for local administration as well. So, this blog has been able to reduce the bureaucratic hegemony especially in the field level.

Introduction:

Union Information & Services Centre (UISC) is government run information centre located at Union Parishads at union level. With the leadership of Local Government Division and assistance of Local District Administration, 4,501 UISCs have been established all over the country. All 9,002 entrepreneurs (one male youth and female youth in each UISC) are providing government and non-government services to the doorsteps of poor and marginalized people at union level. UISC Blog (uiscbd.ning.com) has been created for the entrepreneurs, and this blog is working as an effective online communication and problem solving platform among all the entrepreneurs as well as local district administration.

Objective:


1. To make an easy and effective online interaction among the UISC Entrepreneurs of all over the country and local administration, also build a healthy relationship between local administration and UISC entrepreneurs.
2. To build a burly platform for solving various problems of UISC through online open discussion, progress review and experience sharing in order to make the UISC sustainable and people-centric service center.
3. To develop a discussion network where local people can express their opinion about the quality of UISC services and implementation of this opinion building a correlation among government-non government institutions and entrepreneurs.
4. To establish this blog as the most popular and renowned social network in home and abroad.

Need and Context:

Information centres are a new phenomenon in Bangladesh. Two Community e-Centres (CeC) were established in 2007 as a pilot under Democratic Government Thematic Trust Fund (DGTTF) of UNDP. In early 2008 30 CeCs have been included as a driver project of UNDP supported Access to Information (A2I) Programme of Prime Minister’s Office, Bangladesh. In line with that, 1000 UISCs (Union Information & Service Centre) in 2009 and 4,501 UISCs in 2010 have been established in all Union Parishads of Bangladesh. Every UISC has two entrepreneurs, one young male and one young female identified by UP chairman and UNO. A ten-days-long entrepreneurs training was arranged with the leadership of Local Government Division (LGD). UNDP supported A2I Programme at Prime Minister’s Office plays the role ‘CATALYST” in this whole process. Many equipments equipments of UISC have been procured with entrepreneurs' own investment, some of them were funded by Union Parishads under LGSP (Local Government Support Program) and revenue budget. The entrepreneurs are not paid employees there; they manage their life with their own income from UISC.

The ICT skills of the entrepreneurs are not enough though they have got a few trainings. They face challenges, like local people are not aware about information services, e-Services are not ready in government level, lack of initiative of local administration, income generation are not enough by providing e-Services, lack of good relation with union parishad chairman & secretary and so on. So, it is very tough for an entrepreneur to work in this existing reality. They have no idea that how they will develop his/her skills & capacity, exchange their new ideas & thoughts interacting with each other, and make the UISC sustainable contacting with local administration.

In this regard, it was a necessary to initiate a platform where the entrepreneurs could share their problems for finding solutions, face challenges, new initiatives, income ideas, examples and mobilization process. UISC Blog (uiscbd.ning.com) was created to meet those needs. Now it’s an online platform for 9002 entrepreneurs of 4501 UISCs where the entrepreneurs are sharing their feelings, problems, identifying solutions for one’s problem, discussing with local administration and policy makers whenever needed.

The Process:

Steps to be a member: UISC entrepreneurs, officials of local administration, chairman and secretary of union parishad, govt officials of different ministries, experts, members of infokosh (www.infokosh.bangladesh.gov.bd), assistant programmers at district level of Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC) and some others write in the UISC blog. Invitation from moderator or any other member is needed to be the member. Issue based discussions are going on among entrepreneurs and officers of local administration, government & private sectors. At present more than 13,000 people are the members of the blog. Among them 10,000 bloggers are entrepreneurs, rest of them are Deputy Commissioners, Additional Deputy Commissioners, Upazila Nirbahi Officers (UNO), Upazila Chairmen, District Information Officers and Deputy Directors of Local Governments.

Blog category and role blog of administrator:
Important blog posts are featured for longer durations. Generally these blogs are related to problem solving, new ideas and innovative initiatives. Many bloggers, even the policy makers’ comments on those blog post. This type of blog plays an important role to make decision in national level.

Mobilization and Follow-up by Local Administration: Officers of local administration take various motivational activities in order to make the UISC sustainable. These activities includes, awareness building, yard meeting, participatory action research, workshop and so on. They identify these needs through this Blog. Furthermore, Deputy Commissioners (DC), Additional Deputy Commissioners (ADC) and Upazila Nirbahi Officers (UNO) arrange monthly coordination meetings and follow-up activities on UISCs in District/Upazila level. The directions of those meetings are communicated through this Blog. Even all the preparation including agenda selection, date selection and invitation are done by the blog.

Online Problem solving platform: Open discussions on UISCs are going on regularly in the blog. They discuss about their problem, solutions, new ideas, and future sustainability and functionality plans. When any blogger writes any problem on his/her UISC, a large number of entrepreneurs comment and try to find solutions on it, and share with all. Sometimes the entrepreneurs want to know solution from local administration. ADCs and UNOs try to find out solution and take further steps depending on discussion.

Government service links in Blog’s homepage:
There are few links of government services in UISC Blog’s homepage, such as-Jatiyo e-tothyakosh, e-Agriculture, e-Health, English learning of British Council and online GD (General Diary in Police Station) link. Entrepreneurs are using these links to give services to the people. They are also giving feedback on those links so that government ministries/directorates are redesigning the services based on peoples’ needs. Recently link of Telecentre.Org (www.telecentre.org) has been added in the home page based on the needs of entrepreneurs. As a result, the entrepreneurs will be able to know the experiences of telecentres of other countries.

Impacts:

1. Online Problem Solving Platform: It’s very true that now UISC Blog has become an effective online problem solving platform. The entrepreneurs are interacting among them as well as with the local administration very easily. This certainly saves time and cost
2. Reduced Bureaucratic Mentality of Government Officials: All of us know that, the government officials possess bureaucratic mentality, and they keep away from the general people. Now a friendly relationship has developed among the entrepreneurs and officers local administration through this blog. In many places, this gaps reached almost zero level, and many of them are taking decision discussing together.
3. New e-Leadership: New leaders are developing through blog. Some entrepreneurs are contributing open discussion in the blog, finding solutions of local problems, generating new ideas and examples. As a result, advanced entrepreneurs are getting chance to lead coming in the front line, and new leadership are building through the process. It’s really a new strength and new prospects.
4. An effective online Mobilization & Follow-up tool: UISC Blog is an effective mobilization, follow-up and online training tool now-a-days. Recently Cabinet Division has instructed all the officers of local administration to be the member of this blog, provide the necessary directions to the entrepreneurs through bog and help them to solve problems.
5. Peoples’ Demand Analysis: There is a greater chance to know the quality of services of government and non-government institutions by the entrepreneurs through this blog. Different government ministries as well as directorates are getting scope to redesign their system and improve quality of services based on the feedback in this blog.

6. Expression of feelings of entrepreneurs: This blog has created a space for UISC entrepreneurs for sharing their feeling and experiences of UISC among them. Besides, entrepreneurs share various social initiatives taken by UISC. Entrepreneurs are getting chance to develop a friendly and healthy relationship with local administration through blog. This relationship is very prestigious for UISC entrepreneurs and others. In this regard, UISC blog became a popular grassroots social network of the country.

 

Writer: Jr. Consultant, Access to Information (A2I) Programme, Prime Minister's Office, Tejgaon, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Email: azaman.asad@gmail.com

 

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Comment by Md. Mamunur Rashid on September 16, 2013 at 4:24pm

UISC Blog is the most dependable platform for all the entrepreneur of Bangladesh. Here we easily communicate with other entrepreneur ask him any help and help others

Comment by masudulhaque on February 20, 2013 at 9:33pm

Hi,
I am a masudulhaque.My another and great site
http://www.bdjob.com.bd/
all members welcome
Thanks

Comment by Asad-Uz-Zaman Asad on June 21, 2012 at 3:53pm

Dear Mahbubul Bhai,
Thanks; Sure i will.

-asad

Comment by Md Mahbubul Alam on June 13, 2012 at 8:52pm

Dear Asad,
Thanks for your encouraging response.
Would you please go through the link I provided in earlier mail and share some of your field level experience in working in ICT based project in Bangladesh. It would be helpful to me to get insight of the real world problem

Kind Regards,
Mahbub.

Comment by Asad-Uz-Zaman Asad on June 13, 2012 at 3:02pm

Dear Seuwandi Yapa,
Nice to hear that you have tried to login into our blog. It's completely in our local language, Bangla. Because most of the bloggers (Telecentre operators) are semi-literate and government people (Deputy Commissioners, Upazila Nirbahi Commissioners, Secretaries and Ministers) are also providing instruction in Bangla as well. So if you want to know anything more about our telecentre activities, please feel free to knock me. I will let you know.

Thanks again. Please take care.
-asad

Comment by Asad-Uz-Zaman Asad on June 13, 2012 at 2:54pm

Dear Md. Mahbubul Alam,
Thanks for your prompt response. Also happy to know that you are doing your PhD in ICT4D. Great!!! Surely I will help you providing all sorts of information. Please feel free to communicate with me through email and phone whenever needed.
Best,
asad

Comment by Seu Yapa on June 13, 2012 at 2:01pm

Hi Asad,
I tried login in to UISC blog. Unfortunately it says "Membership is by invitation only." I will be very happy to read on Bangladesh efforts on Telecentre initiatives, activities, etc. Hope all information there is in English. Is there a possibility for me to have a look on uiscbd.ning.com. Further, in future hope you can make available all the information on Bangladesh ICT to public. :)
Best!!!

Comment by Md Mahbubul Alam on June 12, 2012 at 7:28pm

Dear Mr. Asad,
I have read some of your posts already and happy to know that you are working in A2I programme of Bangladesh Govt. I am doing my PhD at City University of Hong Kong and interested in topic of ICT4D projects in developing countries. I think you can provide me some information regarding Union Information and Service Centre. Would you please visit my page where I have posted my research description and posted an on-line link of questionnaire. If you interested in the research please share your experience and insights related the issue. we can also talk over phone if you permit.

Kind Regards,
Md. Mahbubul Alam
PhD student, CityU, Hong Kong

Link of Questionnaire:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dDNfUFZ4WTI4dW...

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