By: Dr Shoaib Baloch
The Covid-19 pandemic has pushed the world on the verge of a digital revolution. Perhaps no event thus far has provided such tremendous impetus to digital revolution than this crisis. Almost all sectors — which can possibly be run through digital technology — are under transition to online services. However education sector has long been closely interlinked with digital and online service for different research works as well as online classes, but the Covid-19 has chiefly augmented the need to go for altogether online services.
In Pakistan, the online education service has also become a debate. Policy-makers are chalking out strategies that how could they possibly minimise the effects of Covid-19 on education sector, thereby utilising the students’ times in productive ways. Recently, the HEC chairman Tariq Banuri has written an exclusive piece for the Daily Dawn Newspaper entitled ‘Why online education?’ where he debated the needs as well as constrains of online education in the country. He also emphasised that possibly higher education sector would be switched to online classes.
Although online education that has been proposed by the HEC chairman is a good step, but it could certainly widen the chasm of education as the students in under-privileged and remote areas of different parts of the country, particularly Balochistan, would not be able to avail themselves of this opportunity. Not only students lack internet service there even other communications access, too.
Even many districts of the province, such as Awaran, Kech and Punjgoor, have long been bereft of internet services owing to security reasons. Other districts like Chaghi, Kharan, and Washuk also have no internet services perhaps if the security issue is not the chief reason. Students in these districts would not be able to get access to online classes. It certainly creates inconvenience. In these areas, neither student be able to move other parts of the province to get access to their online classes, nor can they receive any other source within their respective districts. As a result, education gap shrinks.
It is imperative that internet service must be restored before undertaking such initiatives in the province. Online education must be inclusive and accessible to all without any discrimination. Education opportunities must not be limited to upper class who have possible resources in urban areas. And the negligence of students in remote areas would certainly dye education with the colour of elitism. No one should be deprived of education opportunities in the country.