Muhammad Umar Waqqas
KARACHI: Chief Executive Officer, Project Union Wali Shah has said that adults in our educational institutions need a well-developed school infrastructure for effective learning, however, many players in the education industry only consider infrastructure as the facilities in schools (like the actual building). But infrastructure in a modern educational institution should now go beyond bricks and mortar, thinking instead in terms of design, environment and technology.
He said, buildings, classrooms, laboratories, and equipment – education infrastructure – are crucial elements of learning environments in schools and universities. There is strong evidence that high-quality infrastructure facilitates better instruction, improves student outcomes, and reduces dropout rates, among other benefits, he added.
Shah said, “For example, a recent study from the U.K. found that environmental and design elements of school infrastructure together explained 16 percent of variation in primary students’ academic progress. This research shows that the design of education infrastructure affects learning through three interrelated factors: naturalness (e.g. light, air quality), stimulation (e.g. complexity, color), and individualization (e.g. flexibility of the learning space).
“Although education policymakers are increasingly focusing on the quality of education and school learning environments, many countries use a fragmented or piecemeal approach to investing in their education infrastructure. In Romania, for example, decisions about education infrastructure investments have historically been made under an uncoordinated and decentralized model, driven by ad hoc needs and limited funding availability, rather than a strategic approach.
Shah says, “Schools in marginalized areas in Pakistan face the biggest investment needs in the country, meaning that students attending these schools are doubly disadvantaged. These students come mainly from low income and rural families to attend poorly equipped schools. For instance, 72 percent of rural secondary schools are missing a science laboratory, and nearly 40 percent do not have indoor toilets. However, even though urban schools are a bit better equipped than rural units, many are overcrowded.
“One in four students in urban areas attends an overcrowded school, many of which operate in shifts. Overcrowded classrooms, such the one below, are sub optimal for teaching and learning. Hence, I request the government to take serious and drastic steps for modernization of our educational institutions,” he concluded.