Smart Learning Spaces in Bangladesh

I’ve had the pleasure of spending some time with the wonderful Tanvir Murad Topu, or ‘Topu’ for short; Head of the Photography School at Bangladesh’s prestigious Pathshala South Asian Media Institute.

We have been fortunate enough to host him at the DMLL during his visit to the UK; as he travels the length and breadth of the country meeting with photography academics at various educational institutions. During which time I have learnt a great deal about the exciting work taking place in Dhaka to re-house the Pathshala Institute.

Topu was keen to hear my thoughts (obviously he doesn’t know me at all 😆) on ways the school might design and equip their new learning spaces, both physically and digitally. We discussed at length the various advantages and disadvantages of traditional learning spaces, and from this we began to explore how the school might leverage a mobile-first teaching and learning strategy, leverage modular space design, and enable teaching staff to “take the classroom with them” and deploy lectures across the city from backpack-size teaching kit.

How cool is Topu, seriously. When I grow up I want to grow a beard as magnificent as his!

Through a very enjoyable conversation I learnt how these concepts really compliment the ethos of the Pathshala Institute; who’s name is derived from an ancient south-east asian education system. To quote the institute directly:

“It brings to mind classes held underneath a large tree; conjuring up learning spaces without walls, in the cool shade of its leaves.”

It seems they’ve been practicing the art of Frugal Education for literally thousands of years. Well, you can’t really argue with that can you… Show offs 😉

On a more serious note, Dhaka is one of the most densely populated cities in the world, supporting a population exceeding 19 million. With space at such a premium, it’s no wonder Pathshala are so focused on leveraging what they have to best support their students. With plans to double their intake over the next few years, frugality and creativity will be paramount to their continued success. I look forward to following their progress, and hope to one day visit their new innovative school in person.

If you’re not familiar with the incredible Pathshala Institute and its founder; Bangladeshi photographer, writer and activist founder Shahidul Alam, then I highly recommend you check it out. Their history is a fascinating one, and I’m sure their future will be equally so.

Thank you for your time and patience Topu, I just wish we could have had more conversations! Work really gets in the bloody way sometimes.