The reality of E-Learning in Pakistan

The writer is an author and columnist
By: Areeba Tayyab 

With the advancement in information technology all around the globe, E-learning has set its standards in Pakistan as well. In many sectors of our country, we see people using the internet and getting their work done with the resources available online. However, the recent outbreak of COVID19 has stunned everyone and we are on the verge of crisis. The question here arises, Pakistan that so proudly advocates its education advancing in technology, why at this time of crisis, majority educational institutes still taking time for coming up with alternatives via digital platforms?

Apparently, the universities have an online system where all the students of the institute have access to all the data. These systems in Pakistan are primarily used for social interactions and uploading event activities. In some cases, systems are used to upload homework or give a task at home. These learning systems also have the capacity of sharing links and videos. In the emergency of Corona around the world, our government certainly was the last one to give it a call, and sadly in this crisis, our educational institutes were certainly not ready. What is unfortunate about all this situation is the fact that all these universities have been bragging about having an online supersystem. What is the reality of this situation? Adding one, we talk about using Skype and other online resources but how many students can actually have access to it. One cannot deny that many students who are getting an education from topnotch cities namely Lahore, Islamabad, Karachi are not resident of these cities. After evacuating hostels, these students will go back to their cities and many of them will not have to basic internet over there. More importantly, with several youngsters now stuck at their places, online downloads, Netflix and social networking will increase leaps and bounds, which will ultimately damage the internet signals. In a country, where internet is still 3G, do we really think that online teaching is a good solution?

What is even more horrific is that some institutes are thinking of evaluating online. Now, this may seem possible if we talk about China, the United States or any other developed countries. In our country, where students still don’t have gadgets and don’t have the internet enough to open new tabs, will the online paper be a feasible idea? What we are failing to understand is the unjust treatment with the student who might not understand or might not get online education, but we will still mark them in their final term.

E-Learning, on one hand, might be tough for the students but it is critical for the teachers as well. Teachers copy paste for the internet and usually don’t have the capacity or have never tried using E-classroom. There will be a slight number of teachers who are well equipped with E-Learning, rest will have to suffer the horrors. What is even more problematic is leaving the teachers unequipped with the technology, because the majority of the teachers might not be IT experts or prone to technology. This gets us to the question once again that “Are we really the advocates of E-Learning or this is just a massive hoo-ha to show the world that IT is an important aspect in Pakistan”?

In the manifesto of PTI, digital Pakistan was a point of great emphasis, but unfortunately, no workshops or trainings are conducted to make Pakistan actually digital. It is only in these critical circumstances are we able to realize that Pakistan cannot pursue its education via the internet.

It is high time that the government should take intelligent measures for promoting E-Learning in Pakistan. Definitely, for now the focus is providing medical facility, but one cannot ignore the majority of youth sitting home idle. An innovative and user-friendly portal should be made for the students and for the purpose HEC and other education institutes must also intervene for better results. We must fight these times of crisis together. With a global lockdown, digital learning is the future.

The writer is an author and columnist. She can be reached at [email protected]