BIGD Digital Inclusion Series (Episode 1):Digital Literacy in Rural Bangladesh

View the webinar deck here

In recent years, the Government of Bangladesh has achieved commendable progress in creating an e-government system by digitizing numerous public services. However, there exists a persisting digital divide, in which certain factions of the population, such as low-income households and rural residents, are falling behind in their adoption and use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). To explore the current state of digital literacy in rural Bangladesh and investigate the determinants of digital literacy, BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University conducted a “Digital Literacy and Access to Public Services” survey among 6,500 rural households in Bangladesh. The study develops the first-ever digital literacy index in Bangladesh.

In the first episode of the “Digital Inclusion” webinar series titled “Digital Literacy in Rural Bangladesh”,  Dr Wasel Bin Shadat, Senior Research Fellow, BIGD, presented findings from the survey on Digital Literacy. Following the presentation, there will be a Q&A session open to the participants.

Asif Saleh, Executive Director, BRAC; Anir Chowdhury, Policy Advisor, a2i; Dr Sajjad Zohir, Executive Director, Economic Research Group (ERG); Gregory Chen, Policy Lead, CGAP; and Mehnaz Rabbani, Lead, Research for Policy and Governance (RPG), BIGD, among others, also spoke at the webinar. Dr Imran Matin, Executive Director, BIGD conducted the webinar.

Surveying 6,500 rural households all across the country, this study is the first of its kind to develop a Digital Literacy Index (DLI) that illustrates the current state of digital literacy in rural Bangladesh. According to the index, though 96% of the rural households have a mobile phone, the majority (59%) of them do not have access to a smartphone. Moreover, about half of the households have access to neither a computer (49%) nor the internet (54%). This study provides evidence of significant geographical heterogeneity for DLI and its two dimensions: digital access and digital skills. It also shows that while household size has a significant impact on digital access, it does not affect digital skills. The literacy and education of household head, on the other hand, demonstrate a significantly strong positive impact on digital access, skills, and literacy. Though the gender of the household head has no significant impact on digital access, female-headed households, the study finds, are more likely to have better digital literacy.