Online Education in Pakistan, universities in a fix

Universities adopting online education must be commended for striving hard to revive the process of education

In a time when the whole world is facing closure of businesses, trade and almost every sector, education sector is one of the most to get effected. Western countries and top universities of the world have shifted towards online system while the universities and other academic institutions of the third world are in a fix as they were not ready to cope up with this situation.

Let’s talk about Pakistan, on 23 March, Pakistan announced a two-week lockdown in the country, with all in-country transport suspended, international air travel halted and the army called in. On 26 March, Federal Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mehmood announced that universities and other educational institutions would be closed until 31 May.

Owing this closure, Higher Education Commission (HEC) has directed the universities to move towards online teaching while the varsities who don’t have the said resources to go online will remain closed till 31 May and these holidays will be treated as summer vacations.

Pakistan has faced university closures many times in the past decade due to terror attacks and violent campus politics, but universities then did not adopt online teaching. A sudden shift to digital learning amid the coronavirus crisis has posed serious challenges to the system as most students do not have their own computers or internet facilities especially from public sector.

There are very few universities, majority of them from the private sector, are struggling hard for a swift transition towards the online system. The efforts of these varsities are indeed commendable as they have not completely surrendered like some of country’s largest public sector varsities.

Despite the fact that students are facing and will continue to face some serious issues in this online teaching platform which may also affect their academic performance, every stakeholder needs to understand that the crisis, we are facing, is unprecedented. What measures we will take today, it may have loopholes but it will make us stronger in the longer run and cooperation should come from every stakeholder including students and parents.

Universities adopting online education should also be considerate about the genuine grievances of the students and should leave no stone unturned to address them and facilitate the students while not hindering the process of education.

We must commend the efforts of these universities who are striving hard to revive the process of learning. Once these universities are self-sufficiently able to conduct online classes, they also must share their expertise with the government sector varsities lacking the requisite expertise or resources. Together, we will fight with this menace as the process of learning never ceases.