According to the Chairman Higher Education Commission (HEC), Dr. Tariq Banuri, HEC is devising different strategies to resume academic activities online for students countrywide affected by the closure of institutions in Pakistan due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Banuri said that HEC has already inked an agreement with telecom companies to offer special data bundles for students, especially those living in distant areas, at affordable prices.
The HEC is also mulling over providing smartphones to students who cannot afford to buy one after reports emerged revealing that numerous students remained absent from online classes because they did not have a smartphone. Universities have been directed to provide HEC with the data of such students.
Regarding poor or no connectivity in remote areas, Dr. Banuri said that government and telecom companies are addressing these issues step by step.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, countries across the globe are conducting online classes, stated the HEC Chairman.
Face-to-face teaching is halted at all educational institutions across the globe after the Coronavirus pandemic. Countries with resources and capacity have opted for the online education system. Pakistan should move towards online classes until circumstances become normal in line with the approach the developed countries have opted for during the current situation. Coronavirus has badly affected the education system not only in Pakistan but across the globe.
Resuming Online Classes
Dr. Banuri said that the HEC is cognizant of the problems linked with online classes. Some of the issues are lack of online system, faculty training, electricity, connectivity and internet coverage.
The HEC has formulated an 8 step plan to address different issues regarding quality and connectivity issues.
Moreover, Dr. Banuri said that universities with well-built learning management systems (LMS) have been directed to resume online classes. All these universities have no connectivity issue and their quality of online teaching is exceptional.
Universities facing technological, technical, or spatial limitations have been given time to plan, acquire, train, and deploy LMS. These universities will start online classes through LMS from June 1 in case the lockdown is extended because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, the HEC has instituted a Technical Support Committee (TSC) to help universities’ staff adapt to the online mode of education, said Dr. Banuri.