By: Abdullah Farhad
Education has been tested positive COVID-19. It has been quarantined for several months. Educational practitioners, students and parents are looking anxiously for its quick recovery. It is a sector, according to educationalists, which has suffered a lot after Health in the cradle of global pandemic. Coronavirus has affected masses personally and professionally.
Coronavirus has generated fear, anxiousness and vulnerability among people. Educational2 managers and experts vowed fear that education couldn’t be attained frequently after pandemic due to low mood and lack of motivation. It will take several months to return to normalcy.
This pandemic has very devastating impacts on global education. According to Unicef, it has affected 1.725 billion students around the world, which is 98% of the total students. World has lost effective learning and human capital during pandemic. Where it has disturbed normal learning routine there it ruined student debt, digital learning health care and internet.
Education in US and Europe.
Coronavirus has toppled education in America and Europe. Closure of school, colleges and universities were need of the time. Educational institutes were thrown into uncertainty. In this critical time of pandemic, school, college and universities are facing financial constraints. They are trying to recover from financial loss but the gap of income and expenditure is so high. Some small educational institutes are going towards permanent closure or looking to merge. Larger institutes reducing staff and teaching faculty due to financial disparity.
Scholarships are declining
Scholarships and grants are larger source of universities to conduct academic and research activities. It is worthy to mention that grants and scholarships are declining in worldwide. These scholarships and grants are offered by commercial companies around the world. Now, these companies are cutting their budget due to pandemic.
Coronavirus has also affected learning activities. Educational institutes have been forced to convert educational activities to online classes. Conversion of all educational programs including counselling, student life and career development to online, has raised several questions. This enormous shift towards online learning has changed the mood of learning. Teachers and students around the world are not familiar to these gadgets which are used for online classes. Some educational experts think that online learning couldn’t be the alternate of campus learning. Students are facing hardships due to being from different time zone. Most of the international students are from developing countries where communication infrastructure is hard to find. How students from such areas would be able to join online classes.
Pakistan’s Education in COVID-19
As COVID-19 affected global education there it has created several hurdles in the way of all academic activities in Pakistan. Schools were closed in early March where new educational year was about to begin. Schools, Colleges and Universities sent their students home and went towards closure. Some of the educational institutes parted their contribution by shifting to online learning. In Pakistan pandemic has diverted, says Unesco, 46,803, 407 students from learning. In which 8,636, 383 are from primary, 13,357,618 from secondary part and 1,878,101 are from tertiary.
Online Education in Pakistan
Learning has been switched to online during pandemic in Pakistan. Public sector universities has been observing several faults in Learning Management System LMS. Staff and teaching faculty us showing reluctancy in teaching online. It is a fact that cannot be denied, that teachers and academic staff were never trained for online learning mood. Students from most of the districts of Balochistan, ex-FATA and Gilgit-Baltistan are numerous problems in attending online learning. A country where there three provinces with a large population of students are lacking in basic infrastructure. Thinking of online perfect study in these vulnerable regions of Pakistan is a nightmare. Students organisations are protesting in this regard but yet there isn’t any progress.
Schools were shut down in March 2020 and it might take August and September in opening back. According to educational experts and civil society, If shopping centres and Malls could be opened with SOP’s, then why schools couldn’t?. While government officials say that opening Schools. Colleges and Universities seem impossible because safety guidelines, hygiene and social distancing rules are hard to implement. Recently, PM Imran Khan has urged his advisors to frame SOP’s for school opening.
HEC in hot water
Higher Education Commission is an institute in Pakistan which is responsible for higher and quality education. HEC is in hot water nowadays. HEC is facing strict criticism due to its unbearable policies.
HEC has failed to devise a policy during pandemic. A scholar, a student and educational administrator would find a policy or instruction on the website of HEC. Recently, federal budget is presented in National Assembly where HEC saw a cut in its budget. HEC is already lagging behind and its several projects are suspended due to lack of budget. Ph.D. scholars in foreign countries are under cloud due to late payments from HEC. Students from several universities are seen camping and protesting in front of HEC office Islamabad for exempting them from semester fee and impregnable online classes. But HEC has turned a blind eye to them. Hundreds of parents cannot pay fee because they have lost their job in pandemic. HEC has’nt any policy to address student’s grievances.
Private Sector Educational Institutes
We all believe that investing in Education is a best investment. It generates revenue. It is a matter of concern that a country with strangling economy has nothing to do with education. Government is also found inviting private sector to invest and to curb illiteracy within the country. But in the hard days of pandemic, government did not announce any relief for the private schools and their staff. Parents are unable to pay dues due to financial disturbance. Schools are completely became bankrupt. Lack of funds are barring them from sustaining.
Subsequently, Pandemic has triggered the uncertainty in the world. Economy, Health and Education has been devastated. No doubt, it has these areas need long efforts to see normalcy. But it is undeniable that coronavirus has taught us many lessons of life. We alk need to re-discover and re-imagine ourselves. The world need to re-educate and re-invent itself. Education needs new measures and new dimensions amid COVID-19. Education sector is seeking new plans and new dynamic strategies to coupe economic and societal consequences. COVID-19 has eventually forced us to re-imagine of delivering holistic learning.
The writer is doing M.Phil. Education from University of Education Attock Campus. He can be reached at email@example.com
Published in The Balochistan Point on June 22, 2020