In the wake of the uncertain situation due to the coronavirus lockdown, Higher Education Commission (HEC) has asked all universities either to switch to online teaching or abandon the ongoing semester.
HEC Chairman Dr. Tariq Banuri said in a media briefing:
If lockdown restrictions are lifted by early June, universities can return to business as usual. But if there are further delays, there will be no options other than starting online education or suspending the current semester.
Dr. Tariq Banuri further added that HEC has adopted a two-pronged strategy to support the government’s efforts in containing the spread of COVID-19 and resume academic activities at the same time.
Only online education during the pandemic can ensure that the government’s efforts don’t go in vain. HEC has asked all universities to train their staff accordingly and restart academic activities online, stated Chairman HEC.
For the capacity building of teachers, HEC has instituted a technical support committee (TSC) to help universities’ staff adapt to the online mode of education. TSC will also assist in deploying the Learning Management System (LMS) in universities to resume online education.
HEC has also set up a National Knowledge Bank (NKB) to ensure teachers can access a wide range of academic resources for quality education. National Academy for Higher Education (NAHE) has prepared online tutorials for teachers to improve their skills as well.
Regarding issues faced by students in remote areas such as poor connectivity and costly data packages, HEC has signed an agreement with telecom companies to broaden their network coverage and prepare cheap data bundles for students.
Where students with no smartphones, tablets, and laptops are concerned, HEC has ordered all universities to submit information of such students. HEC will provide Smartphones to all students that don’t have one.
Previously, HEC had announced that academic activities will remain suspended until May 31 as a result of the lockdown and directed universities to mark the period as summer vacations. Last week, HEC ordered all universities to ensure they acquire LMS from TSC and start online classes from June 1.