Coronavirus is hampered by learning because Pakistan’s education system is thrown into chaos
Coronavirus has forced Pakistan into a difficult situation and while all state institutions are struggling to overcome a pandemic, the education sector is no exception, online teaching has made teachers and students in the country tested.
Following the direction of the Higher Education Commission (HEC), educational institutions throughout the country are trying to deal with the crisis at hand; however, many students seem to be dissatisfied with the way they are given online education by their institutes.
Last week, ‘#WeRejectOnlineEducation’ emerged as one of the top trends in Pakistan on Twitter, according to a report published by News on March 27th.
News talk to students and educators to get both sides of the story.
‘We are burdened’
A Karachi University student told News, their online class was suspended after many students – a majority of them from middle and middle class – were unable to attend class because they faced connectivity problems or did not have a smartphone.
Another student at a private university in Karachi said that his teacher “could not reach students like they did, physically, in the classroom.”
“Students are familiar with the classroom environment and it is not easy for them to suddenly switch to online classes,” he added.
“We are burdened with assignments and cannot take practical classes because of a pandemic. The teachers gave us many assignments that were practically impossible to do within the given deadline – because of them [teachers] is trying to fill the gap caused by coronavirus, “a student at another private university in Karachi.
“I can’t understand what my teacher is teaching online, they can’t explain themselves clearly,” said an O-level student at a private school.
‘A quick transition is not easy’
In a country like Pakistan, switching to online education is not easy.
“Pakistan is not a country that understands technology which is one of the main reasons we have experienced problems in the education sector after the pandemic caused closure throughout the country,” said Noman Ansari, a senior lecturer at Riphah International University, Islamabad.
“Sooner or later, despite all the difficulties, we must move several segments of our education towards virtual learning and coronavirus has given us that opportunity,” he said.
“The biggest problem faced is that teachers do not have ideas about how to convey and students are not able to understand them, because we have to change our way of teaching in a hurry,” he said, adding, “A fast transition is not easy, especially in Pakistan because the country is not progressing technologically. “
“Students are not accustomed to using their cognitive abilities to overcome problems,” he said. “They also try to deviate from these classes and make excuses to stop them as for those who pay 90k-to-60k semester fees, buy average equipment or at least a smartphone isn’t too much of a hassle.”
Muneeb-ul-Hasan, a lecturer at a private institution – teaching undergraduate students – said, “I give students recordings, PDF books, and give them assignments. So far, the response has been good because students can listen to my lectures like the songs on their playlists. “
Yaseem Alam, an O-level teacher at a private school in Karachi told us that he had received positive feedback from students and that these classes helped him keep the topic short, precise, and to the point, which was beneficial for both parties.
Meanwhile, Shahida, a public school teacher, said they had completed the school year and were preparing to take an exam but were unable to do so because of a school closure order.
The federal government, at the end of March, announced that educational institutions throughout Pakistan would remain closed until May 31 after coronavirus cases began to surge in the country.
‘Introducing schemes for students’
Alishbah Sijal, a student at Karachi University, told me News that online classes must be done because we need to turn to virtual learning sooner or later. “A better way for teachers and educational institutions is to record lectures rather than give them in real time. In this way we can overcome obstacles and students can easily access lectures even on slow internet connections, “he said.
He added, “The laptop schemes at the university and college level must be reintroduced so that in the future, such a gap does not occur between classes and each student will have the equipment needed to access the class.”
“Subsidized internet packages must be introduced for students so they can easily get high-speed internet to help them in their online studies,” Sijal added.
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