Pakistan rated as the ‘least ready nation’ for Digital Education


According to an assessment conducted using the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Digital Education Readiness Framework and examining the delivery of education through digital means across 10 countries in the region, Pakistan ranks as the least prepared nation in terms of providing digital education. The report highlights the crucial role played by federal and provincial governments in enabling teachers and students to harness the benefits of digital education through the establishment of supportive infrastructure and policies. However, it also emphasizes that achieving digital readiness may not be attainable solely through government efforts due to the potential requirements for subject matter expertise, technical knowledge, and additional resources. These essential components can be facilitated through collaboration with the private sector and multilateral partnerships.

Based on the findings of the survey, it was evident that there was a lack of training for teachers in the realm of information and communication technology (ICT) skills, especially in the context of online education delivery. Although the majority of teachers acknowledged their involvement in producing educational materials, the content they generated primarily consisted of fundamental materials like documents and presentations, as outlined in the report.

The assessment of internet quality in educational settings revealed that teachers in Pakistani schools can effectively use the internet for various tasks, such as browsing videos, streaming audio and video content, and downloading documents. However, the internet infrastructure is less suitable for handling heavier content, such as audio clips and videos.

In Pakistan, less than 30 percent of teachers across primary, secondary, and higher education levels utilize private EdTech platforms for conducting classes. Furthermore, the adoption of these platforms for communication and interaction with students is notably low, with no primary or secondary school teachers reported to be using them.

Among the ten member countries of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Pakistan stands out with one of the lowest proportions of ICT graduates in the pool of tertiary education graduates, accounting for just 1.1 percent.

Pakistan is a partner state of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). According to a GPE report from October 2020 on the utilization of grants in Sindh and Balochistan, technology tools were employed in Sindh to ensure the strategic deployment of teachers to areas with the greatest need. In Balochistan, apps were utilized to monitor teacher attendance, functioning offline in remote areas and syncing data when network connectivity was available. The report also highlighted that grant funds were supporting an ambitious distance learning initiative being implemented throughout Pakistan.

Pakistan faces several challenges in terms of improving its educational technology infrastructure. These challenges include limited internet connectivity, with only 34.1 percent of households being connected. The country also grapples with slow fixed broadband speeds, high fixed line broadband costs, and low access to rural electricity. Notably, Pakistan boasts a household TV coverage rate of 62.8 percent, and it surpasses other nations in terms of cable TV subscriptions, with over 482 subscriptions per 1,000 individuals.

Related: Digital economy vital for sustainable development: Ahsan Iqbal

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