In collaboration with the Ministry of Education (MoE) and the Department of Information Technology and Telecom (DITT), Bhutan Telecom Limited (BTL) and TashiCell have launched data packages for students to make online learning easy and affordable.
BTL has come up with five data packages for students with 60 percent additional data.
Nu 45 data package offers 692 MB, Nu 95 fetches 1,472 MB, Nu 195 comes with 3,078 MB, Nu 495 offers 9,444 MB, and Nu 695 package offers 25,673 MB.
An official from BTL said the student packages applies to access only e-Learning sites, like Google Classroom & G-Suite, Moodle, e-Library, B-Trowa, and Zoom. YouTube and Facebook are also opened as most of the information is disseminated through them. However, there are certain sites, like online games, TikTok, WhatsApp, Torrent, Snapchat, etc., blocked in order to reduce the data consumption.
He said only the contact numbers of students in the country registered with MoE can activate the student data packages. MoE has also segregated the TashiCell users and B-Mobile users.
Timing for student data packages is from 7 am till 12 noon. Since the students will be browsing the Internet for the educational purpose, there are plans to extend time for the users to 6 pm.
He said that a different SIM card for the student data packages is not required. But if a student uses the data after 12 noon then the charges will be cut from their main balance or from the normal data packages. Similarly, if they explore other sites that are not defined in the student data package in the prescribed learning timing, then the money will be cut from their main balance or data cut from the normal data package.
Students have the option to recharge their mobile data with either the student data packages or normal data packages.
There are challenges as well, in terms of contact numbers, if the student does not give the correct number then the telecom companies cannot verify the number, and the student data package will not work.
BTL has been working on the student data packages for two months, and are still in the process of blacklisting all the undesirable sites.
According to DITT and MoE, around 180,000 students in the tertiary level education (PP-12) and around 80,000 students have already registered for student data package for e-Learning with BTL.
Similarly, TashiCell has three student data packages, Nu 97 data pack has 1,300 MB, Nu 297 pack has 4,300 MB and Nu 497 has 8,000 MB. Three data packages have an additional 60 percent, and all the undesirable sites are blocked.
As of Thursday, 28,000 students have registered for the student data packages.
Meanwhile, the Education Minister JB Rai said many parents are unable to afford the cost of recharging their children’s phone data everyday. Since education in Bhutan is free, therefore, the ministry has decided to help the students and parents by giving an additional 60 percent data quota for e-Learning.