The unprecedented pandemic the world is facing today has affected even the remotest of areas on this plant and the inhabitants therein. But besides the economic losses, the loss of learning for children is something that has become a major worry for all nations. Asad Ullah Khan tells us how the Punjab government has acted to curtail the effects of COVID-19 on education.
cientists, researchers and doctors around the world have teamed up and are working tirelessly to find a cure and minimize the devastating impact of COVID-19 outbreak. It is needless to say that the impact the pandemic will have globally cannot be overestimated; safe to say that the world order will be shaken, leaving it up to debate whether the globalization as we know it today will continue. It is a surprising thought, considering that the idea of a de-globalized world was an alien notion only a few months ago.
For the year 2020, IMF had predicted a positive economic situation of the world with a projected per capita GDP increase in 160 countries. In January, however, at the start of the outbreak, the organization announced that the “Global Lockdown” recession would shrink the global GDP by 3%, with 170 countries contributing to the contraction. In her latest interview, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva made an even more frightening prediction, stating that their earlier estimates “might have been too optimistic”. She went on to emphasize to the nations the importance of getting ahead of the economic damages.
But getting ahead of economic damages is no small feat and means battling on all fronts with the threats posed by the pandemic. However, prioritizing and knowing which battles to fight first is the need of the hour, especially for struggling economies like Pakistan. Moving in this direction, let us try to answer the following questions: Which sector has taken the worst global impact in the lockdown days so far? Which sector would be the most fruitful to invest in? By my guess, it is the same sector that the current ruling party publicly declared its first priority, even before it got hold of power: Education
The student population affected by COVID-19 lockdowns in Pakistan is estimated to be around 46.8 million.
UNESCO estimates that 1,575 million learners worldwide have been affected by the lockdown, a figure that accounts for 91.3% of total enrolled learners worldwide. In Pakistan, the organization estimates the affected student population to be around 46.8 million. These learners, our future, amount to 22% of our entire population. So in my opinion, here lies the most important problem our country faces in challenging its post pandemic situation and its invested future.In every way you look at it, education is one of the most fundamental factors of economic development. Education raises people’s productivity and creativity and promotes entrepreneurship and technological advances. It plays a crucial role in securing economic and social progress and improving income distribution.
The Punjab government’s PMIU, and PITB have teamed up to launch “Taleem Ghar” – an initiative to enable remote learning of students between grade 1-8.
The Centre for Global Development (CGD) recently recorded data for the official education system responses to COVID-19 around the world. When seen in light of World Bank’s classification method for countries income levels, the data helps analyze the effects of the pandemic on student learning and the gaps that may arise in student performance levels. Countries with low income levels stand to lose a lot, as governments are ill-equipped to provide remote learning opportunities. It is also important to note that it would lead to a gap between the education skill level of high income countries and low income countries, in effect widening the gap between poor and rich countries in the near future.
House Of Knowledge
In Pakistan’s case, the government was swift to respond to these horrifying facts pertaining to the expected handicap of its young learners. Within two weeks of entering the lockdown and enforcing social distancing, the Punjab Government’s Programme Monitoring and Implementation Unit (PMIU) under the leadership of School Education Department (SED) teamed with Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) to launch “Taleem Ghar” – an initiative to enable remote learning of students between grade 1-8.
Taleem Ghar utilizes communication channels to deliver educational content to parents and students in the safety of their homes. The content is mapped according to curriculum and provides children an opportunity to understand different concepts that are part of their school work. The primary focus at the dissemination level is via cable TV channels, which according to ASER report of 2019, puts availability of TV at 91% in urban and 77% in rural areas. However, content is further available on android based applications with 32,000 downloads so far, a dedicated Youtube channel as well as on the Taleem Ghar website, which has registered north of seven hundred thousand visits since its launch. The TV channel is currently running on 859 PEMRA registered cable TV networks across the province.
Taleem Ghar utilizes communication channels to deliver educational content to parents and students in the safety of their homes
The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a worldwide study by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) intended to evaluate educational outcomes by measuring 15-year-old school pupils’ scholastic performance on mathematics, science, and reading. The test has for years been considered a gauge that enables countries to improve their education policies and outcomes by measuring problem solving and cognition skills in young people. Keeping the international best practices in mind, Taleem Ghar concentrates on providing Science and Mathematics content to its users that focuses on interactive and engaging content finalized by SED.
The government’s meteoric response to the developing crisis has been successful in eluding the disaster that threatened the education sector and millions of its stakeholders. Its plans of partnering with private sector and combining forces with higher education providers is masterful yet essential. It puts the future of the country’s youth on a safe and stable footing and ensures that even in this time of confusion and uncertainty, education continues to be delivered to Pakistan’s children.
Asadullah Khan Niazi is a student of law and works with the government on research and development projects. His
Twitter handle is @aukniazi