With the NCOC’s decision to reimpose restrictions due to the added stress on hospitals as a result of the delta variant, one of the natural fallouts is the break in education for students. The last academic year was fraught with challenges and it looks like this one will be more of the same. The government announced on Friday that all educational institutions in Islamabad and parts of Punjab will be closed for the next two weeks. This means more disruptions, and precious time lost.
With over 5600 patients in critical care throughout Pakistan, it is clear that sending students to school would be irresponsible on part of the state. But this does not take away from the collective duty to ensure that the youth is provided quality education, even if alternative means of inculcating knowledge are to be employed.
However, it does not have to be a complete waste. When Covid first started, online classes and a focus on making curriculum accessible to all were focused upon. Methods such as the Teleschool were experimented with, but the stated intention at the time was to make these methods make up for lost time. It is clear that this has not happened.
These initiatives have lost steam and must now be revived. This new academic year must not be disturbed like the last one. Internet access and technological education remain stumbling blocks, but this does not mean that both public and private educational institutes should stop investing in the ‘new normal’ in its entirety.
Each fortnightly disturbance makes students lose out on time that would normally have been spent studying important parts of the curriculum. The government is completely justified in trying to protect students from exposure but it must go a step further and also look to implement home-based schooling where possible. Gaps will naturally still exist, but with time and investment the state can look to fill those as well. Educationists must interact with the state and work out a way forward.