By: Rabbia Aslam
The children are considered to be the assets of any nation. Although this pandemic has impacted everyone around the globe equally, it has significantly altered the world order for those who were least used to technological systems and digital learning. Pakistan has also gone through this transitional period from employing manual techniques to the digital system. The schools are going to adopt this new policy shift for the sake of continuing education for the future of the children. This new transition is termed as schooling uninterrupted. While the claim of these schools/educational institutions is to provide uninterrupted education to the children, in reality, this is just another excuse to accumulate profits (money) and the systems in place are not fully functional rather creates disrupted interaction during the process of learning. Since the economic situation is getting worst day by day, it is extremely difficult to afford tuition fee or continuation of their education as their schools are functional. In addition to this being a nation, we need to think that if the children could have healthy habits and they are aware -of handwashing and oral hygiene that is more important rather than typical curriculum and syllabus. On the contrary, with the outbreak of COVID-19 each private school is now trying to maximize the profit via online schooling method Irrespective of the fact if it is serving the purpose or not. Due to the above-mentioned situation, the parents are facing extreme difficulties to meet both ends. They are facing a financial burden due to the lockdown situation. In this pandemic crisis, only food is the inevitable need and vital element of life above anything be it education.
There is no doubt, private schools have their own limitations and constraints including teacher’s salary and online expanses but we do not think that what they are learning at the end of this process? Does it matter what is the outcome of this? I think the future of the nation is our children’s we need to protect them. In order to think on these lines we need to engage them in physical activities at home, they must avoid interaction with laptop screens and cartoons for long hours. On the other hand, homeschooling is one of the recognized fields in the developed world but in Pakistan, even private schools owners think that it is something strange but it is not considered that it is about changing our approach to education. As per the World Economic Forum data in the United States, an estimated 1.7 million children were homeschooled. In Pakistan private schooling is already considered a facility which is only accessible to a few classes but in the current economic crisis that chunk is suffering from other related factors.
The government and private schools owners need to think seriously that now survival of the children are more important as compared to education provided online. Pakistan now has more young people than it ever had. Pakistan is also the signatory of international commitments related to children like convention on the Rights of the Children (CRC). So, we need to be careful that protection and safety measures are more important for our children. If they are given home schooling then they can stay better emotionally and psychologically. We need to answer their queries related to corona virus, why they are not allowed to go outside for recreational activities? The loss which is irreparable is the emotional and psychological well being of the children during the outbreak of COVID-19. It is dire need as compared to the online teaching which is not fulfilling the actual purpose of conceptual clarity, healthy habits, physical and mental growth of the children. The children can be smart learner if given home schooling. Home schooling is legal in many countries across the globe. There are many free apps and websites that can be resource pack for early years of education and other free resources are also available in excess after COVID-19 outbreak to facilitate the e-learning, home schooling or even online teaching by the parents. It does not involve expensive resources at all; it can be done with already available materials at home. The key is to acknowledge the child’s individual needs and catering to those.
Homeschooling can be a good viable option for parents who want to invest in the future of their children. During these uncertain times staying home is the best option that can protect us all from this outbreak and during our stay at home we can teach our children as well. Therefore the option of homeschooling is worth exploring.
The author is a lecturer at the Centre of Excellence in Gender Studies, Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad. She can be reached at [email protected]