According to Article 25 of the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973 all citizens of the country are equal and deserve equal treatment. Thus, under Article 25-A, all citizens have the right to an equal education but after passing more than 70 years any government has not played a role in giving the basic right to equal education because education plays an important role in the progress and development of a state.
Unfortunately, our country is a backward one regarding its literacy rate. Even many poor countries have higher literacy rates as compared to Pakistan. The literacy rate of the population above ten years of age in the country is 58.5%. Male literacy is 70.2% while the female literacy rate is 46.3%. According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, there are 260,803 registered institutes in Pakistan facilitating over 41,025,645 students where public sector institutes are around 70% and 30% are run by private organizations.
A major change in Pakistan’s education system, including around the world, occurred during the Covid-19 epidemic & Pakistan was among the first countries in the world to institute widespread school closures as a result of COVID-19. In this situation, the questions arose: what are the expected levels of learning that teachers will have to deal with in the class? Will children have lost learning while schools were closed? What should teachers, parents, and children expect from the first few weeks of schooling? How can parents, teachers, and the school system as a whole help children catch up?
While school closures have been effective in supporting efforts at social distancing, they may well have serious consequences for schooling and learning. This note presents results from a series of simulations that aim to capture the impacts that school closures in Pakistan may have on the learning levels, enrollment, and future earnings of children and students. The Declaration of COVID 19 as a pandemic by WHO created outrage around the globe, particularly creating an emergency which led to lockdown in many countries imposed by their respective governments.
This countrywide lockdown to minimize the spread of the corona outbreak had immense problems not only in terms of health but as a financial crisis. In addition to that societal discomfort, unemployment, disturbance in the normal life cycle imposed a synergistic effect. The research was carried out on Pakistani students from different fields of education to estimate the constant constraint of mental and physical burden on students during this lockdown. It was modeled that in the overall population of the survey, females had a greater impact compared to males. According to the research, mental health, financial crisis, and behavioral effects were the considerable concerns of the majority of the population.
During the Covid-19 wave in Pakistan, the government introduced an online education system, which put parents in a new predicament: a large number of middle-class parents give android cell phones to their school-going children for a short period as long as they are at home, while online education android cell phone required not only for longer but also for the additional cost of internet. However, these parents somehow bear this burden.
But most of the problems were for most of the children in Pakistan who were studying in government schools or government-funded private institutions as most of these children belonged to families who lived below the poverty line. So, they can’t afford an android phone & internet facility even in the major cities’ children facing mental agony in front of their relatives, neighbors & classmates because they have not done their online classwork due to not having an android phone. Their parents are also facing more miseries of life only to not have one of the basic facilities for their children’s online education. Even though the second academic year has passed almost halfway, no steps have been taken to provide online education to the children of government schools.
Internet speed & signals is also a big problem in Pakistan’s online education system. Because of this, when the government announced the decision to implement online education students belonging from Baluchistan & KPK protested against that decision. They have only one point agenda that in the absence of proper internet access how they get online education but students including females facing police torture & arrest in cases of protest.
According to the “Speed test global index” from January 2020 to January 2021 in the “Fixed Broadband” system Pakistan is based on 118 positions out of 140 countries with a speed of 10.84 Mbps. In “Mobile Internet” Pakistan stands at 158 no. out of 175 countries with a speed of 17.95 Mbps. According to “Data Reportal” there were 76.38 million internet users in Pakistan in January 2020 & internet penetration stood @ 35% in this period. According to the “Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)” report on “Inclusive Internet Index” which benchmarks countries on the Internet’s availability, affordability, relevance, and the readiness of people to use it. The index shows on a scale of one (best) to 100 (worst) countries, Pakistan stood @ 76th out of the total countries surveyed. In the category of infrastructure for access & levels of internet usage, Pakistan ranked 86th out of 100. The report tells us that among the four dimensions considered for the ranking (availability, affordability, relevance & readiness) Pakistan showed poor performance in all areas, the worst being in the availability category. In these circumstances, all the announcements by the government to provide a uniform education system and alleviate the problems of the people seem futile.