Online education in Pakistan – The good, The Bad and Ugly
Online education in Pakistan – The good, The Bad, and Ugly. In this article, Educator, Adnan Ahmed, brings the voices of teachers, students, and parents from across the country to the fore, as they highlight the good, the bad, and the terrible faces of online education in Pakistan, and the need for comprehensive education policies.
Online education in Pakistan – The good, The Bad, and Ugly With educational institutes closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has been hopeful for online education to achieve academic continuity. Most high-end private and public organizations have made the switch smoothly using online platforms such as Zoom, Google classrooms, Microsoft teams, etc., while many still discoveries it a herculean task. The contests of online education are complex. It is time that we Pakistanis, as a society, understand the realms of online education.
The Good (Online education in Pakistan – The good, The Bad and Ugly)
Online education lets for knowledge something outside the norm. A beginner has access to limitless topics and global experts in niche topics – something then not affordable or imaginable for many. Online plans let people of a wide age group study at their own pace, without assets, and without compromising on their other tasks.
With the emergence and spread of COVID-19 in Pakistan, online education has dripped down to the most basic level — schools and colleges! When asked about their experience with online teaching, a student from a college said, “The online option is a need in this epidemic situation. It has brought education to us without us going anywhere, and it is more supple”. Probably, students are finding it a welcome change from strict schedules and long-distance commutes to attend classes. For some others, who find knowledge in large classes intimidating, this may be a less demanding option. Many teachers are creating the best of this condition by exploring new approaches to teaching and assessment.
This is hopeful. But the moment online education moves from an elective to the only form of knowledge, and that too long period, the wicked and the ugly slowly become evident. Pakistan is beginning to get a taste of this now.
The Bad (Online education in Pakistan – The good, The Bad and Ugly)
Using the internet for entertaining is common, but online educations is a big test. Teachers may not be well-versed with making digital content, and transmission it effectively online. A rapid hope from them to upgrade, and from students to adapt, is partial.
Body language and eye contact, which are significant cues for the teacher, are difficult to perceive in an online class. “I do not obtain a continual response in the form of students’ responses during online sessions, which decreases the efficiency of teaching”, says college teachers.
How many students have paid attention in a class? Of those, how many understood the communication? Is the teaching pace acceptable? Are some students getting left behindhand? These questions arise even in old-style classrooms, but they are harder to address in online classes. A parent of a 9‑year-old presence at a private school says, “There shouldn’t be online classes for such young kids. Their attentiveness span is small and they do not pay attention after a while.” The 9‑year-old added, “I hate them (online classes)!”
Even college students appear to value the in-class physical learning knowledge much more than a virtual one. Many recognize that phones can be very distracting. In addition, science and technology programs often include hands-on laboratory sessions, dissertation projects, and field journeys to complement academic studies. This aspect of learning is severely limited in online education.
Finally, education is not just about topic knowledge but also about developing social skills and sportsmanship among the students, which is built over years. Relying solely on online education may delay the all-inclusive growth of children, and many may fail later in their specialized and individual lives.
The Ugly(Online education in Pakistan – The good, The Bad and Ugly)
While Pakistan enjoys extensive geographic and cultural diversity, it also suffers from a huge socio-economic divide. Only a small part of the Pakistan population has admission to online education right now.
Interrupted power supply, weak or non-existent internet connectivity, and unaffordability to buy essential devices are major anxieties. “In a Class of 40 students, after two months of online classes, about 20 students frequently attend class with whatsoever device and joining they have. Around 5 – 8 students are totally absent till date and rest are changing”, says a school teacher. A teacher in a government-aided school from a small town says, “It is a frustrating knowledge to engage students of inferior classes in online mode. There are net issues on both teachers’ and students’ ends”.
To contract with internet connectivity and device availability issues, ‘classes’ in many places are trendy via sharing of videos by teachers over WhatsApp or YouTube so that students can timepiece them at their suitability. This too, however, comes with problems in sympathetic the lessons and indorses rote learning. The same is true of pre-recorded sessions aired on television and radio they do cater to a wider student populace that cannot benefit from live online classes.
That is not all. With limits of livelihood in a family, the first ones to receive a blow are often girls. In a recent survey of many students studying in government schools, only 28% of the girls had smartphones in their homes, in contrast to 36% of the boys.
These smartphones almost always fit male adults, often being lesser nearby to girls than boys, and half of these relations could not have enough money for internet data packages. Therefore, lessons aired on television were the main choice for a majority of the students contributing to this survey.
However, girls were found to spend an excessively lengthier time on household chores than boys, which often met with the time of telecast of these lessons. Such gaps in education could deteriorate the already wide gender gap in employment in Pakistan.
Students with disabilities are among the most reliant on in-person education and hence least likely to benefit from distance learning., indicated that 73% of the students with incapacities had concerns regarding the availability of study material in appropriate formats. Also, 79% of their teachers were anxious about teaching efficiently without the use of touch to students with learning disorders, autism, and low vision. The lack of real education may further worsen the high dropout rates of these children from schools in developing countries.