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Pandemic-related closure affected 1B students the world over

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  • Post last modified:08/09/2020
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Slider photo courtesy Tabassum Tanveer

KARACHI: Over one billion students were affected due to closure of schools during Coronavirus Pandemic.

United Nations that observes 8th of September as International Literacy Day, is focusing  today on “Literacy teaching and learning in the COVID-19 crisis and beyond,” particularly on the role of educators & changing pedagogies.

Today UN is pondering over:

1) What is the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on youth, adult literacy educators, teaching and learning?

2) What are the lessons learnt?

3) How can we effectively position youth and adult literacy learning in global and national responses and in strategies for the recovery and resilience-building phase?


UN reckons that by finding answers to these queries today (8th of September, 2020) nations can figure out how during a situation like Pandemic etc effective teaching methodologies could be used.

It is pertinent to mention here that during Pandemic closure in Pakistan, while students were not equipped enough for online classes (due to poverty, outages and lack of internet facility), teachers were overburdened to the extent that many even thought of committing suicide.

While educational institutions – particularly universities – while busy fleecing parents on one end – were forcing teachers to develop course from scratch; to do video recordings of lectures; to prepare online material from scratch. Since summer courses were not offered to visiting faculty permanent teachers were overburdened.

Online classes and exams were also going on due to online meetings, Zoom and Whatsapp groups, teachers had no time for personal life. Due to the pressure of work – never done before in Pakistan – teachers were mentally as well as physically exhausted.

HEC had given a guideline to the educational institutions, but: i) It seems that those who figured this modus operandi out were not aware of ground realities of this country; ii) Educational institutions were not following the HEC instructions; iii) Many (incompetent) teachers who had been using century old notes to write lectures on boards got exposed.

Sadly a 14-year-old pupil of class IX committed suicide in India as her poor father was not able to provide her the gadgets required for taking online classes. According to details on 2nd day of June, 2020 a depressed Class IX student Devika Balakrishnan, 14-year-old daughter of a daily-wage earner, committed suicide by setting herself ablaze in India as being poor she did not happen to harbor gadgets as being poor she did not happen to harbor  gadgets (Smart Phone/TV) needed to attend online classes.

Pupils studying in advanced countries cozily adapted: For the first time in 800 years, Cambridge held lectures virtually that were streamed online. Cambridge was the first university in Britain to do so. Earlier, as the UK went into lockdown, Cambridge had sent students home and moved all its teaching online in the month of March. The exams were held from distance and graduation ceremonies (and spring balls) had been scrapped across UK. In USA too classrooms remained closed and online lectures were delivered even in universities like Harvard.

Back in 1966 UNESCO had designated 8th of September as International Literacy Day in order to remind the world about the significance of literacy for individuals, communities and societies, and the need for intensified efforts towards more literate societies. The issue of literacy is a key component of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Following are the ten targets: | YouTube Channel



M M Alam

M. M. Alam is a Pakistan-based working journalist since 1981. Karachi University faculty gold medalist Alam began his career four decades ago by writing for Dawn, Pakistan’s highest circulating English daily. He has worked for region’s leading publications, global aviation periodicals including Rotors (of USA) and vetted New York Times as permanent employee of daily Express Tribune. Alam regularly covers international aviation and defense-related events including Salon Du Bourget (France), Farnborough (United Kingdom), Dubai (UAE). Alam has reported thousands of events and interviewed hundreds of people in Pakistan, UAE, EU, UK and USA. Being Francophone Alam also coordinates with a number of French publications.