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lowns arrive to entertain Palestinian children during a home-confinement order amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus disease in Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. According to a recent report by the UNESCO the COVID-19 pandemic has forced school closures in 191 countries, affecting at least 1.5 billion students and 63 million primary and secondary teachers.But more concerning are the disparities in distance education that are now beginning to appear. The report has found that half of students currently out of the classroom – or nearly 830 million learners globally – do not have access to a computer. Additionally, more than 40 percent have no Internet access at home. These disparities are particularly evident in low-income countries and areas, such as the Israeli-occupied West bank and the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. 

Nearly 90 per cent of students in sub-Saharan Africa do not have household computers while 82 percent are unable to get online. And although having a mobile phone can support young learners, in accessing information or connecting with their teachers, for example, around 56 million live in areas that are not served by mobile networks; almost half in sub-Saharan Africa.Teachers also are struggling with the rapid transition to online learning, even those in countries with reliable infrastructure and household connectivity. They also need to be trained to deliver distance and online education. Again, countries in sub-Saharan Africa face the greatest challenges.

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Greta Thunberg,

Climate Activist

“Like the climate crisis, the coronavirus pandemic is a child-rights crisis. It will affect all children, now and in the long-term, but vulnerable groups will be impacted the most. I’m asking everyone to step up and join me in support of UNICEF’s vital work to save children’s lives, to protect health and continue education.”

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Audrey Azoulay,

Director General, UNESCO

“While efforts to provide connectivity to all must be multiplied, we now know that continued teaching and learning cannot be limited to online means. To lessen already existing inequalities, we must also support other alternatives including the use of community radio and television broadcasts, and creativity in all ways of learning.”

Inger Andersen

Executive Director, UNEP

“Billions of children are currently out of school because of COVID-19. But learning cannot stop. COVID-19 has revealed how deeply interconnected all life on this planet is. I am delighted that UNEP, along with TED-Ed and other collaborators, are launching Earth School. Learning about the natural world will be critical to building a better and sustainable future for all. These unprecedented times highlight just how important it is for young people to connect with the natural world and understand science”

Online education facilities put in place by HEC and universities to minimize the effects of Coronavirus lockdowns have certainly drawn flak from students. But a contributor questions if it is alright to only blame HEC for the mismanagement that has come to the fore?

n these unprecedented times, it is not only our economy that is faltering, but the entire education process is also in shambles. All local and international examinations have been put on hold and uncertainty and confusion surrounds online classes arranged by higher education institutions (HEIs). Higher education has been, perhaps, the least discussed issue by successive governments and thus a comprehensive policy for it appears lacking. For many weeks in April, various hashtags trended on Twitter, like #WeRejectOnllineClasses #WeWantSemesterBreak and #HEC_StopOnlineClasses, which highlighted how effective the online education had been so far. Although it was a planned twitter campaign, issues students have been facing regarding online education are not absolutely wrong. Though it does beg a question: is only HEC solely responsible for enduring this reaction from university students? This pertinent issue needs to be examined from various angles for a better understanding. 

The COVID-19 crisis has tested all aspects of our lives like never before and like most things, the education sector in Pakistan has been hit and exposed badly. But if we have known one thing about education in Pakistan from the crisis, it’s that the state of affairs really, really calls for concern and concrete action. We discuss what we ought to be doing to make post-pandemic education a worthwhile effort once the disease is behind us.


ducation these days – like most aspects of human life on the planet – is undergoing a period of critical transition. The traditional classroom has been replaced with a virtual one, school uniform has been out fashioned for comfy PJs, and writing assignments no more require pen and paper. This unexpected change in everyday life has come within four months of the virus first being reported in China and never did we think living would come to this.For the first time in recent history that we are experiencing a lockdown of global proportions and perhaps it is the first time that the flow of education has been disrupted to this extent. The UNICEF estimates that close to 1.5 billion schoolchildren around the world face loss of learning as schools in over 191 countries have been ordered shut to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The long term impact of the virus-driven lockdown is yet to be fully understood, however, one thing is clear, that it is high time we rethink what education truly entails.