Zong Striving to Narrow Pakistan’s Digital Education Divide

The state of education in Pakistan isn’t ideal. From lack of infrastructure to improvements needed in the policymaking, academia, and curriculum, challenges exist at all levels. The gender parity gap in education is also broad with more girls being out of schools than boys (32% vs 21%). Pakistan’s literacy rate of 57% lags well behind its regional peers.

Pakistan – with its population of over 200 million – has about 22.5 million out-of-school children, a majority of them being girls. The government’s spending on public education needs more attention.

It won’t take an expert to see how girls’ lack of education adversely affects their future earnings. Women, who make up about 39% of the Pakistani labor force, earn only half of what their male counterparts do when they only possess primary education. The figure jumps to 70% with secondary education.

The digital divide is even wider

Unfortunately, access to digital education in Pakistan is still limited to the privileged few. While the public education infrastructure is lagging to accommodate digital means of learning, a majority of affordable private schools are also without the right e-education infrastructure.

This worrying divide was brought to light by the relentless Covid-19 pandemic. While the virus disrupted life as we knew it, it saw the entire education system scrambling for digitalization. In the race, the underprivileged students and education providers were left behind, showing how unprepared our system is for such a crisis.

If anything, the pandemic showed the education system the way forward as the country moves to the digital era. But knowing where to go without the right tools and resources does the education providers no good as they still need support at all levels to promote digital education in the country.

Zong’s mission to reduce the digital divide

Much of Pakistan’s ongoing digitalization is ICT-driven, meaning digital devices such as mobile phones and tablets that are connected to mobile broadband are helping create the digital world Pakistan has envisioned for a long. And being the country’s digitization frontrunner, Zong is taking the lead on digitalizing education.

Having initiated revolutionary steps for the infusion of technology into different aspects of life, Zong is leveraging connectivity and technology to reduce the digital divide in the education sector of Pakistan too. By introducing e-Learning and digital education initiatives, especially for girls, the company is empowering and enabling Pakistani for a better future.

On the big picture, Zong has partnered with schools and social organizations to promote digital education. The company has also joined forces with vocational centres for girls and women to provide skill development training and introduce them to digital means of learning.

In its latest measure on this front, Zong 4G has joined hands with Punjab Skills Development Fund (PSDF) to launch an online course called ‘How to E-lance’. The course will equip 10,000 youth with the knowledge to become professional freelancers, equipping these young learners to launch online careers on the world’s top two freelancing platforms: Fiverr and Upwork.

Zong is also collaborating with PSDF to provide 300 smart tablets to PSDF top students, encouraging them to use this platform to the fullest and make their futures. This will expand the digital learning outreach and support even more young people, especially women, who face mobility and safety challenges to get digitally connected and establish online careers.

Prior to this, Zong also has established multiple digital labs in schools especially girls orphanages, to promote digital education among spheres that can’t afford to access it by other means. Realizing the severe need to narrow the digital divide in Pakistan, especially in the wake of Covid-19, Zong stays committed to promoting digital education and having a positive impact on the country’s education indicators.

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