In the wake of COVID 19, the world was compelled to swiftly adopt a digital lifestyle. This meant a shift to online instruction for educational systems. This transition was not, however, seamless in Pakistan due to a glaring issue: the digital divide. This divide between those who have access to technology and the internet and those who do not, has had a profound effect on education in the country.
Losses in Learning for the Less Advantaged
Students from low-income families were affected the most when institutions closed. Less than ten percent of students in public institutions were able to access the newly launched Tele Taleem television transmissions, according to a study. Elite private institutions, in contrast, quickly organized online classes using platforms such as Zoom and Teams. The students at these institutions were already equipped with laptops and internet access, and their instructors were trained in Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). The result was interactive and individualized instruction, while disadvantaged students continued to fall behind.
The Obvious Effects of the Digital Divide
During the pandemic, the effects of the digital divide became extremely apparent. During lockdowns, many regions in Pakistan, particularly in KP and Balochistan, lacked 3G and 4G coverage, isolating them from educational opportunities. Those without internet access were significantly disadvantaged, which exacerbated disparities in access to education.
E-Learning Is the New Standard
E-learning has become the norm post-COVID, rendering conventional learning methods obsolete. Children and even women in remote areas with Internet access utilize online learning platforms such as Khan Academy and Udemy to acquire contemporary skills. However, this privilege is restricted to regions with uninterrupted internet access, preventing those in remote areas from utilizing the internet’s transformative potential. With greater access to technology, urban areas have an advantage over rural areas. Students in rural areas struggle to partake in online education programs.
Teacher Education and Professional Growth
Regarding their professional development, rural educators encounter obstacles as well. Access to technology and the internet is essential for their training and remaining informed of contemporary teaching methods. The digital divide hinders their ability to improve their skills, which ultimately impacts the caliber of the education they provide.
Monitoring Student Progression
Tracking student progress and evaluating educational outcomes are impossible without technology. It enables instructors and administrators to monitor development of students and performance using online resources. However, the digital divide limits access to these tools in rural areas, impeding their ability to effectively track progress.
A multifaceted strategy is required to reduce the negative effects of the digital divide on education in Pakistan. Internet access, computers, and other technological resources can be provided to institutions in rural locations through government initiatives and partnerships with the private sector. Additionally, teacher and student training programs can reconcile the digital divide.
The digital divide has had a significant impact on the quality and accessibility of education in Pakistan. It is crucial to invest in technology infrastructure, teacher training, and programs that promote equal access to technology for all students to address this issue. By doing so, Pakistan can begin to close the disparity and provide its youth with a brighter future.
Disclaimer: Any opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the opinions of CREDP. This content is meant for informational purposes only.