Teleschooling in Pakistan
Will it yield significant the desired results?
Dawood Abbas Khan
The Government of Pakistan has shown gumption by launching the Teleschool project in collaboration with Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV). There are two cardinal reasons behind this initiative: First, continue educational activities in the country at a time when all educational institutions are closed due to thwart the spread of Covid-19, and second, to make efforts to uplift the country’s literacy rate.
Under the current situation due to Covid-19, first reason will be instrumental in filling the gap and help students learn during the period when their institutions face closure. The second reason is, indeed, a long-term ambition of government as it intends to expand this project for the betterment of education system and literacy rate. However, achieving these goals may prove to be a herculean task due to a host of issues. Here are some advantages and the flipside of the idea of teleschooling.
The first and foremost advantage of teleschooling is that it will create awareness about importance of education and learning from home. Secondly, children would start taking interest in learning and they will get into the habit of doing productive things. Thirdly, the channel would assist those students who cannot afford hefty private tuition fees as by this method they can learn free of charge. No doubt, connecting technology with education would have a great impact on our education system. But there should be favourable circumstances such as a sound and functional education system and good governance to achieve the desired results. Otherwise, it would not be possible to revolutionalize the whole education system, especially improving education standards and uplifting literacy rates.
In Pakistan’s case, this initiative is icing on the cake because this initiative towards improving education standard although seems good, the conditions in Pakistan in terms of flawed education system and poor governance will hardly allow this ambition to become a reality. An estimated half the children of Pakistan will not be able to get full benefit of this initiative. It is because of the following reasons:
- Pakistan’s education system is already in shambles as a huge body of research has concluded that millions of children of school-going age are out of schools. It is sad but a reality that we find more children at workshops than schools due to the abject poverty of their families who send them to work so as to have some income.
How can we expect that these children will have time to watch these teaching-learning channels? Or if we believe for a moment that they have time to watch, the second question arises, do they even have a television set at their homes?
- Another reason is the shortage of electricity due to which power outages are common in almost all parts of Pakistan. There is an average 8-10-hour power breakdown in most urban areas, and the situation is even worse in remote areas where people are experiencing more hours of power outages. How can we expect that students would get maximum advantage of teleschooling if cities remained reeling under long load-shedding? No doubt, it would be difficult for students to watch their scheduled classes on time.
- It is important to say that this initiative will work better only under a sound, functional and well-organized education system. Getting benefits from these channels is almost impossible for students from Balochistan and Sindh provinces where most of the government schools are deserted and contain zero facilities.
School is the foundation and an important prerequisite for the promotion of telechooling; otherwise, we cannot get the desired result when the doors of schools are closed and teachers are nowhere to be seen.
Reforming education system has hardly been a top priority of successive governments. At present, initiating teleschools to reform the standard of education is a long jump. Teleschool will not give any significant results unless the government puts in all efforts to reform the country’s rotten education system.
In a nutshell, teleschool is a good step and can bring meaningful result but only under a sound and functional education system. This is the area that needs urgent attention.