Amidst fear and anxiety, COVID-19 could possibly be a ray of hope for a depilated education system.
Seventy odd years into its inception, and Pakistan has to date been successful in resisting change in its education system. A system riddled by education policies influenced by politics, military and religion, a system crushed into submission by the need of private schooling developed due to a misguided nationalization policy which ruined well run public schools. With the private school system and its’ multi optioned boards available, Pakistan has faced a huge setback in multiple terms, most of these schools charge exorbitant amounts of money under the context of services, many lack professionally trained staff including under qualified teachers, all this has been beautifully masked in prettily set up classrooms, fancy advertising, promotions under the guise of co-curricular activities. However, what these schools lacked and still lack is an entry into the real twenty first century; in current times where hope is fast dwindling, our education system might just be opening its’ doors to welcome the ray of technology. Schools that initially resisted the use of technology integration, teachers who laughed at the thought of change and technology usage are now being forced by the pandemic force to educate themselves as quickly as possible before they go on to educate their students.
While it is mostly true for Pakistan that it lacked innovation in the education sector, the same is true for nearly all the countries in the world. Education innovators had been experimenting the digital classrooms worldwide over the past many years, yet its slow pace was frustrating. Most teachers and students across the world were hesitating to adopt or adapt to the changing world and to accept technology as a crucial part of the teaching and learning experience. Experts now believe that COVID-19 outbreak has accelerated a process that might have taken another twenty years or more. Pakistan is seeing its’ biggest and largest technology hustle bustle in these current times of pandemic, amidst lockdowns, startups that were initially thought to be useless are rapidly gaining demand as the need for online and blended learning is being realized, from early to tertiary years, education is being reshaped or rediscovered. Schools that had equipped themselves for the future seem secure for the moment but huge amounts of academic losses are taking place for students who are enrolled in schools that are as yet unprepared to integrate learning through technology.
The realization to keep innovating and to move from traditional education under the covers of innovation towards a system that is skill based, technology integrated and accepting of change needs to come before we are hit by another pandemic or catastrophe. Once the COVID – 19 resides, technology should not reside with it, rather it should rise with it. What matters is how this pandemic will reshape our perceptions so that we can reshape our education system to be able to tolerate any upcoming crisis.