The Bangladesh Open University (বাংলাদেশ উন্মূক্ত বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়) or BOU is a national university with its headquarters in Board Bazar, Gazipur District, Dhaka Division, Bangladesh. The university was established on October 21, 1992 when the Parliament of Bangladesh passed and gazetted the Bangladesh Open University Act, 1992 (BOU Act 1992) .
As the only public university in Bangladesh to use distance education as a method of delivery, BOU is mandated to "promote through multimedia; instruction of every standard and knowledge - both general and scientific - by means of any form of communications technology, to raise the standard of education and to give the people educational opportunities by democratizing education and creating a class of competent people by raising the standard of education of the people generally" .
Distance education was first introduced into Bangladesh when the Education Directorate was assigned with the responsibility for distribution of 200 radio receivers to educational institutions. This led to the creation of an Audio-Visual Cell and later the Audio-Visual Education Centre (AVEC) in 1962.
Upon achieving independence in 1971, mass education was viewed as a priority in the new nation. The School Broadcasting Programme (SBP) was launched in 1978 during the administration of President Ziaur Rahman. The project was later expanded to become the National Institute of Educational Media and Technology (NIEMT) in 1983. In 1985, the NIEMT was renamed the Bangladesh Institute of Distance Education (BIDE) which offered, apart from audio-visual materials, a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) programme via distance learning validated by the University of Rajshahi. The success of BIDE encouraged policy makers to take up a major plan for establishing an open university. .
BOU offers 2 types of programmes; formal and non-formal; in seven Schools and a network of 12 Regional Resource Centre, 80 Coordinating Offices and 1,000 Tutorial Centres nationwide.
BOU study programmes are divided into two separate type; formal and non-formal.
A total of 21 formal academic programmes are offered by BOU. Formal programmes are academic programmes that result in the awarding of an academic qualification up to a Master's degree upon completion and examination.
As the lack of public literacy remains an issue in Bangladesh, non-formal programmes are conducted by the BOU to create awareness and impart knowledge about health, environment, disaster management, basic science, agriculture, food, nutrition and other branches of knowledge for human development. To date, 19 non-formal programmes have been initiated in the areas of Environmental Protection, Basic Science, Elementary Mathematics, Agriculture, Bank Services, Marketing Management, Health, Nutrition, Population and Gender Issues.
BOU's 11 divisions are organised into seven Schools:
A full list of the various regional resource centres and tutorial centres affiliated with BOU can be found from BOU's website .
BOU is granted the authority to confer degrees under Clause 6(c) of the BOU Act 1992. BOU is also recognised as a national university by the University Grants Commission of Bangladesh, a statutory body attached to the Ministry of Education.
The BOU is also a founding and participating institution of the SAARC Consortium on Open and Distance Learning (SACODiL) .