Online Education in pandemic: Is distance learning working for us or not?

In the beginning of March 2020, a pandemic hit the world and suddenly the whole world stopped as if it was a movie and someone pressed the pause button. When the pandemic struck Pakistan, I was a primary teacher in a private school.

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It almost took a month and a half for our Pakistani education systems to think about a plan for online education. As we all know, our education system is already divided into Madaris, O/A-levels etc. Different private schools started to come up with the ideas of different online education delivery methods. Many used applications like Zoom, Teletaleem, Google Class, MS Teams and then there were some schools that used Whatsapp. Now every school is using any of these channels to educate their students but, the thing that matters is the quality and standard of education they provide.

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The idea of online education would be absurd in 2018-19, except for higher education but this pandemic, has made this happen only in few months. As the schools started to use online classes, parents were forced to arrange mobile phones, laptops, computers, and/or tablets for their children. The basic requirements were changed. As it was so sudden, many teachers took a while to understand the technology and get familiar with these new software/apps. A very important question that we must ask is whether the quality of education, understanding of the concepts, and getting the essence, was there or not? Teachers and schools did their best to provide quality education to their students. But were the students ready to get educated? Were the parents ready or not?

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Our education system responded in a very positive way yet the problem is different for our country. Average family size of Pakistan is around 6-7 persons. Now, this raises the question of whether there are enough electronic devices for every child? Can they all take classes at the same time? As a teacher, I witness that one or two children were taking online classes. Many families only focus on the studies of their elder child, considering it more important than those, who were in early stages of their school life. Schools give equal importance to every child but due to these online classes, many students suffer from the quality education. A proper check and balance is missing. All the exams, were first delayed and later, cancelled by the government. Getting promoted to the next class without giving exams is very pleasing but the consequences will be much bigger than we can imagine. The future of the students or in other words, country’s future is at stake.

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Now a bigger channel is waiting for all educators, once schools reopen, it will take months to bring students back to the level they were at when the lockdown began. Government and educators have to work together to come up with a plan to make our younger one compatible for the modern world and overcome these challenges. A national policy is required here to meet these new challenges.  

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Editor’s Note: This blog/article was written as a course requirement for Development studies, S3H, NUST Islamabad.

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