The fatal outbreak of the contagious virus in Pakistan has adversely affected the daily routine, social life and economy of the country. Not only that, but it also had a devastating effect on the education system around the globe. To avoid the further spread of the virus, the federal and provincial governments have also decided to close down the educational institutions in Pakistan and adopted an online lecture system for the first time in history. But whether it is serving the purpose is worth discussing.
Arguably, many of the students and teachers are unfamiliar with the online lectures just like the novel virus which have put them in the state of lamenting. Notably, students from flung areas including Gilgit Baltistan, Balochistan, South Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Despite, the continuous morbid of the students few private universities impetuously set a calendar for the beginning of the online classes by granting a gap of fifteen days to train teachers for this new beginning. In addition to that, few of the renowned private Universities also played a significant role to increase the semester fee, perhaps, to show a sense of solidarity with the burdens of their apprentices. The quality of online education has become the requirement of high wages.
However, classes began, and students with facilities turned their faces towards Zoom and started attending courses beside knowing that half of the class cannot have the access of these lavish facilities the sense of collectiveness had been triggered because the caveats of getting low grades and semester gap increased the tension of those brilliant to bequeath with online classes. The suffering of students belonging to far and tribal areas had been ignored from the private universities because the internet facilities were considered not to be the problem of the institute instead it becomes the problem of the student because they belong from areas like Ghizer, Turbat, Waziristan, and DG Khan etc. It is important to mention that Universities promised to send recorded videos, CD’s and USB’s with all course content in the manner of taking every student together, since it all goes in vain because it’s not about internet only, many of such areas are not even introduced with electricity yet. So, private Universities happily played their role of completing a semester with the help of YouTube videos, PowerPoint lectures and with the flow of uploading assignments by giving an extended deadline of ten to fifteen days. Well, it was the panacea of Private institutes amid coronavirus to brush off the semester.
Ostensibly, government universities didn’t remain any step behind from their private counterparts. They also announced to begin the online class from the very start of June 2020. However, it would be a complete loss of education for students in less privileged areas of the country, where the need for education is relatively more important. Quaid e Azam University, Government College, and other government institutes tighten their belts to introduce a date to initiate webinar lectures in June. Nonetheless, this announcement released a whiff of tension among the students in these areas. Students promulgate campaigns to denounce the statement. And those who could hardly access internet joined the virtual protests to decry online classes and demanded the restoration of the internet in the secluded areas. For other parts of the country, lockdown and quarantine suffocation are becoming an issue, but for these students, the basic human necessities like internet, electricity, and education has become an outcry. Whereas, the differences of the problem could be sensed in these myriad parts of the country. Starting of the online classes without considering the accentuate issue of these students will drag them in the sense of inferiority and deprivation. Needless to say, we have already played an adequate role to create a space for prejudice and hatred in these areas, we cannot keep the tendency of more.
The state should play a paternalistic role to provide the basic needs of its ignored parts. These students are already under the stress of many issues; getting quality of education shouldn’t be one. Apparently, under these hard circumstances, we shouldn’t entirely blame the institutes for beginning their semesters in the webinar. Still, we can question the state by not rendering these needs. We don’t know how long this pandemic will take, and we also have no idea how we will deal with the upcoming wave of this novel virus. Amidst all this chaos, HEC needs to follow a rule of considering everyone in an equal position and without discriminating directly or indirectly in terms of providing education. Otherwise, we will lose a generation who are already under a starve of education; we shouldn’t stride these students to kick-off for the online classes.
It is worth discussing that a petition regarding the online classes has been filed by having CP No 498/2020, in which the Hon’able Chief Justice has directed the Vice-Chancellors of the Universities of Balochistan to form a committee along with the Government in order to resolve the online classes issue and to submit the report in the Court on the next date of hearing and it is hoped that positive steps would be taken to resolve the issue related to online classes.