The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 as a public health emergency on 30th January 2020. Due to the COVID-19 situation, the Pakistani government closed all the educational institutes across the country on 13 March 2020 (Ali, 2020). The federal government ordered as per the guidelines of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to begin online learning modes, and assist students accordingly till the situation gets back to normal.1
It was seen with a passage of a few days that moving from a conventional classroom education system to virtual learning created various hindrances and challenges for educational institutions, students, and instructors and impacted them in several ways. Virtual learning can be effectively established in advanced countries (Basilaia&Kvavadze, 2020), but in Pakistan, it is not effective as most of the academic activities and administrative activities are managed manually. The problems such as lack of attention and interaction among students and teachers because of the non-availability of speedy internet connection arise frequently. Besides, extracurricular activities and social interactions are taking place in educational institutions which is definitely necessary and due to this pandemic, all of the things are just impossible now. Hence, if such activities are suspended, the majority of school children and young people will be affected in terms of learning and growth as well as development. It is noticed that further long-term closure of institutions will put us in psychological distress and sadness.1
The foremost priority is to highlight the current problem i.e. to train teachers to enhance learning performances. (KhadijaShahperBakhtiar).When it comes to the COVID-19 situation, we should not be caught in the trap that using technology can solve all the issues, seeing the Pakistan ground realities. The government must consider that the role and quality of teachers are a significant part of the learning process. (kamlani says). Access to education has already been a major issue in Pakistan –around 22.8 million of Pakistan’s over 70 million children are deprived of school –and the COVID outbreak has shown substantial technological discrimination. During the previous months, a large number of students across Pakistan protested against the online classes because of the poor or unavailability of the internet in the majority of places especially in provinces such as Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtun Khawa, and Gilgit-Baltistan. 2
Many teachers are called to the institutions to take the classes from there. In this difficult time, it is a very risky thing. Teachers remain in constant fear that they may get the virus that can also infect the members of their homes. In some organizations some teachers are very old and adapted to the manual teaching methods, they know very little about the technology. So, it is a great stress for them to manage the learning of the technology-based delivery of lectures along with teaching the students at the same time.
The majority of the students cannot focus on the screen for long periods. It is a great disadvantage that in many situations they are distracted by social media or games. Internet connectivity is a huge issue as there is not an appropriate speed of internet in small towns and cities, so a constant lack of continuity arises in learning for students.3
It is obvious that learning is not as effective online as compared to the physical environment between students and teachers which creates a learning gap and it could lead to a sense of isolation. However, in very rare cases the teachers have a basic understanding of technological resources to conduct online classes effectively. Most parents are worried about their children’s health as focusing on the screen could be bad and it may lead to bad postures and ophthalmic problems.3
The most disturbing situation for the students is that for a while the educational institutions open and after some time, they close again. These frequent shifts in the format make it very tough for the pupils to adjust well. Moreover, online exams become a major difficulty for many pupils because they do not have stable and permanent internet connections. Few of them cannot afford the high charges of such connections. Keeping in view such issues, it is very difficult to adapt to this kind of examination system during and though they cannot perform very well.
In a nutshell, the online education system is not very well suited but the bitter truth is that it is the only solution in the current circumstances. Hence, effective planning should be followed by providing training to teachers and students about educational technology so that none of the students are left behind. In such circumstances, blended learning should be a priority, in this way; inconvenience in education will be avoided.
1.M. Adnan & K. Anwar / Journal of Pedagogical Sociology and Psychology, 2(1), 45-51 https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED606496 2.Malik, Zahra Mehreen (14th July 2020) the coronavirus effect on Pakistan’s digital divide. https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20200713-the-coronavirus-effect-on-pakistans-digital-divide 3.Priyanka Gautam, October 10, 2020 https://elearningindustry.com/advantages-and-disadvantages-online-learning