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COVID-19 and digital education failure

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The COVID-19 pandemic has gripped life globally. Education system is getting worst in many countries because digital education. As coronavirus control measures spread throughout South Asia, universities such as India, Pakistan and Afghanistan find themselves poorly prepared for online learning or distance learning because their campuses are closed and their students return home, some remote areas are without internet facilities and offline facilities to continue the classes system.
Pakistan’s Higher Education Commission (HEC) asked universities to engage faculty and quickly develop online courses and broadcast those to the students in view of the coronavirus situation in the country. Coronavirus pandemic has endangered us all and online education is the solution for the safety of the faculty and the students. But there are some issues regarding online system in Pakistan, most of the students don’t have smart phones and internet facility which leads to failure. Before COVID-19 the education system was not up to the mark, after this pandemic era it badly affects the students and their future. Many students return from abroad because of this pandemic era, after the flights suspension most of the students stuck in their home country and facing problems such as study, financial and time research.
Pakistan has already faced university closure in Pakistan in the past due to the terrorist attack and the political threats but that time universities did not adopt the online education system for students. A suddenly change to online learning is create many challenges to the system as majority of student do not have their smart phones and personal computer for online classes. On the other side there are many other Government schools in Pakistan like “Government High School Barranga Bakkhar” which I have visited personally and asked some question with Asim Shahzad (School Teacher). He told that government is not providing books to their student, and students do not have smart phone access even from their parents due to poor condition.
Boarding students have left for their homes located mostly in less developed areas, and the international students from different counties move to their home town. Another student Muhammad Abbas from Pakistan who is Studying PhD in Zhengzhou China went back to his city Lahore, near Shezan factory, when the closure of academic institutions was announced. He said, he is on Chinese government scholarship about 4500 yuan per month. After pandemic cause China has stopped funding to all scholarships students except one or two universities from March onwards until 1 September 2020. It is very hectic situation for all PhD scholars, it creates financial, study, also lead to fail in research without labs availability, he said.
In some countries like China where community transmission of the virus has reduced significantly, schools are reopening in phases by employing rotation models which use time and the school space flexibly. This seems like a plausible way forward. Although, it is interesting and ironic to note how the serious measures that are being put in place to protect children from a deadly disease are not very far from their everyday routine in schools i.e. sitting in assigned seats, usually remaining in the same room all day long, walking along a marked track, listening passively to instructions, and enjoying limited time outdoors.
Perhaps this lockdown has given us an idea of how we can improve our educational institutions to ensure that students get the maximum possible benefits. We can use this as an opportunity to redesign learning spaces/communities, in collaboration with parents, to further facilitate student learning. More than anything, this abrupt wake-up call should prompt all relevant stakeholders to reflect on the true purpose of schools and the future of learning in this country.
Students try to convince experts through all possible forums to review the decision about classes and exams online, but unfortunately their voices are simply ignored. Instead of suggesting academics with a logical path forward in this crisis situation, the administrators appointed at HEC and HEI are introducing policies to increase confusion among students. In the meanwhile Pakistan digital learning system failed due to COVID-19. Most of the student have out their focused towards studies/education.
The provision of quality education is the sole responsibility of the government and educational institutions. HEC is mandated to guarantee the quality of education without compromising established standards. This unfortunate situation requires an intelligent contribution from all concerned. Advanced countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Prime Minister of Pakistan himself advise people to learn to live with the coronavirus for a certain period until such time as no lasting treatment is invented to fight the virus. Given this prevailing scenario, the government, HEC and universities are required to take a futuristic, achievable and positive approach to safeguard the valuable time of millions of students across the country and the sole purpose of education.