Learning through competition

Ahmed Shatil Alam finds out why a local educational website has become very popular among the knowledge-hungry people of the country

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Since their college days former Dhaka Residential Model College student Dipesh Dewan and Notre Dame College student Shazzad Hossain Mukit have been good friends. Although they were from different institutions and competed against each other as rivals, that rivalry of quiz podiums blossomed into a strong friendship. Both friends went abroad to get higher education following their Higher Secondary Certificate exam in 2009.

One day, after returning to Dhaka, the two quiz-masters were talking between themselves about the quiz culture and the future of quiz in Bangladesh. From their discussion, the fact emerged that the quiz culture is still based in urban areas, especially Dhaka, leaving a large amount of quiz-loving people out of the purview of attending quiz or knowing something from it.

They considered doing something through which quiz-games can be spread across the country. Soon they initiated the unique Bengali quiz platform in 2014, with a website named www.quizards.co.

Dipesh Dewan says that the name quizards is a blend of two English words ‘quiz’ and ‘wizards’.

In the website, anyone can play quiz on different and interesting topics like history, geography, literature, culture and lifestyle, film and drama, sports etc. Almost all the topics can satiate the hunger of any knowledge-thirsty person.

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With their innovative and creative info-graphics they have so far engaged thousands of people in their website and other offline quiz events. In the last few months, they have arranged two different quiz competitions on former president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Sheba Prokashoni’s popular publications like Tin Goyenda, Masud Rana and Kishore Classic series, where a total of 5,600 participants participated and the website was viewed more than 1,20,000 times, says quizards project manager Mahfuz Salekin Borshon.

Besides, they have also arranged some offline quiz tournaments for students of different institutions including Dhaka University, Islamic University of Technology, Bangladesh University of Professionals and others.

Quizards, which has a plan to develop an app and multimedia contents in near future, comprises of seven team members with whom hundreds of contributors have been working on developing contents like blogs, features in Bengali language and more, shares Borshon. ‘We want to make quizards into a big Bengali digital content providers like buzzfeed, mashable etc, which will only run in Bengali language,’ he says. ‘In the digital world, Bengali language based digital content is very rare and we want to fill this void soon,’ he adds.

So far quizards has been awarded with many local and international prizes including the BRAC Manthan Digital Innovation Award and Joy Bangla Youth Award. In 2016, it won BRAC Manthan Digital Innovation Award under the entertainment category, while under the culture and development category they were awarded Joy Bangla Youth Award in 2017. It had also applied for the ICT fund provided by the ICT Ministry in Bangladesh for digital innovation and development, shares Borshon.

For the future, the edutainment-based organisation has planned to organise a nation-wide quiz competition for the school-level students, which may help them learn about the knowledge outside of their books, he shares. ‘Quiz is one of the best possible ways that can enlighten students with knowledge. Our aim is to make that possible for rural students who do not have facilities through which they can learn from entertainment,’ he says.