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Inaccessible internet facility once again becomes a major impediment in digital learning

ISLAMABAD: A renowned education expert, Murtaza Noor said that once again inaccessible internet facility has become a major impediment in the way of educating thousands of the students after closure of educational institutions during the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic.

The educational institutions in the capital city soon after closure have shifted to the online mode of teaching to enable the students to keep in touch with their studies and save them from the academic loss.

However, not all the students were finding it easier to attend online classes owing to the factors like internet charges, distortions, disrupted or poor signals etc.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed many inadequacies and imbalances of our education system with a challenge for a large number of students to participate in the digital learning process without reliable internet access and electronic gadgets”, Murtaza Noor said.

“Students from rich families will find their way during school closure to take maximum benefit of alternative learning opportunities however the students in public schools and colleges belonging to the disadvantaged backgrounds will be deprived of this facility due to lack of access to the digital equipment and internet facility”, he said.
Consequently, the students from marginalized segments of society would remain unable to study during the period of closure of their schools, he said.

An educationist serving at one of the government run colleges in capital, Professor Tahir Mahmood said, “The closure of educational institutions due to coronavirus concerns has again turned a spotlight on the problems and challenges encountered by the students and teachers while interacting on the digital platform”.

“Neither the teachers nor the students have received any training regarding online teaching and learning processes in government schools and colleges. Only Whatsapp is the source of their interaction which is not sufficient to fulfill academic requirements,”he observed.

A lecturer, Ayesha Kiran said, “Access to the internet and computers is needed for online education along with the supportive environments but not every student has access to internet and computer so challenges may rise in coming days and teaching-learning will suffer.”

Learning from the past digital learning practices during the first wave of COVID-19, the authorities should have been sorted out the viable solutions to address the educational needs of students, she observed.

Shehla Naz, a mother of three children, said, “I have to manage the fee charges of my three children who are enrolled in a private school. Along with that,it is difficult to manage internet charges as well as buying three gadgets at a time to continue online class of all the children at a time”.

She urged the concerned authorities in the education department to introduce cost effective gadgets and internet packages especially for the students so that they could adapt to the digital learning system for their better future.

It is pertinent to mention here that the Federal Government announced to close the educational institutions across the country from November 26 up to January 10 next year in the wake of surge in pandemic COVID-19 cases and directed to adopt digital mode of teaching and learning during the period.

The decision was made in light of the unanimous recommendations given by the Provincial Health Ministers and Inter-Provincial Education Ministers Conference (IPEMC) during a meeting held few days ago.

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Afshan Zaki

A Karachi University Graduate Afshan Zaki is associated with the field of Media as newscaster, presenter and anchor since 2017.