With the outbreak of coronavirus, the closure of educational institutes was the only solution. However since the covid-19 is not contained and after every few months we have to welcome another wave of the virus, the closure of educational institutes and remote learning in Pakistan is posing a huge loss. According to UNICEF, Hundreds of millions of children in South Asian countries including Pakistan and India are suffering as their schools have been closed because of the coronavirus as they lack online devices and connections for remote learning.
According to the report presented by UNICEF which conducted research in Pakistan, India, the Maldives, and Sri Lanka, since last year, the closure has affected 434 million children in South Asia and a huge percentage of children were learning significantly less as compared to pre-pandemic times.
In India 42 % of children between ages 6 to 13 do not have access to remote learning. The situation is better in Pakistan but still, 23% of children did not have access to devices to carry on online education.
George Laryea-Adjei, Unicef’s regional director for South Asia, said:
School closures in South Asia have forced hundreds of millions of children and their teachers to transition to remote learning in a region with low connectivity and device affordability. Even when a family has access to technology, children are not always able to access it. As a result, children have suffered enormous setbacks in their learning journey”
This report is quite alarming and being a mother I also have witnessed the same situation in my home when my children have access to good internet and a device. But the issue still lies with the overall methodology of online classes and how children are not able to absorb lectures during online classes. The situation gets worse when in such scenarios, the mother is working and cannot stay at home to help students with online lectures.
In order scenarios, there are schools that do not offer online classes due to a lack of resources and untrained teachers. Even when they are successful to provide remote learning to children, they either do not have laptops/mobiles or good internet connections.
The situation is not the perfect one these days so the authorities should plan on the safe opening of institutions instead of relying on complete closure. Even before the pandemic, 60 percent of the children were not able to completely read and understand by the age of 10. So opening of education institutions while taking proper measures should be the utmost priority of the authorities.