Out of school: Pakistani students struggle with lack of internet | Global development

IEarlier, Khan served as ambassador to Lahore. Her children are in her native village in a rural area north of Peshawar. This is the same problem for many of our young people in these two different areas of Pakistan: no means of access to education.

Learning online was not an option for Khan’s children as epidemics closed schools in urban and rural areas. Even when he worked to pay school fees, his two sons, aged 16 and 13, were unable to get any lessons because the schools were digital.

“My kids haven’t done anything since last year. They’ve been lazy at home. They seem to have forgotten a little bit about what they knew, and it’s like the government has forgotten about us.

Five-year-old Muhammad Ibrahim teaches online classes from home during Pakistan's nationwide lockdown.
Five-year-old Muhammad Ibrahim teaches online classes from home during Pakistan’s nationwide lockdown. Photo: Amir Qureshi / AFP / Getty

In Pakistan, more than half of the population now owns a smartphone, but it is mainly concentrated in the urban provinces of Punjab and Sindh, so online education benefits a minority of students in a country where 22.7 million Children do not already participate in education. During Khan’s final year at school, for Khan’s 16-year-old son, this is a crucial time for his future.

The pressure to continue paying fees is fading. For Pakistan’s low-income groups, paying for education is a struggle and a difficult choice. Marvi Soomro, founder of Education Charity IEI Pakistan“Because of the loss of income during epidemics, fewer families can afford to keep their children in school, as they need to bring in extra money,” he said.

“Regions like Gilgit-Baltistan are completely isolated due to lack of technology. Families can no longer make a living from tourism and have to sell livestock to meet them, “she says.” It is often difficult to convince the rural population of the need for education because they are immediately relieved. I don’t see it. “

The rising dropout rate in the wake of the epidemic has occurred despite high hopes for education. “I’ve met young girls who often travel four or five miles to school, who have to bear the heavy burden of transportation on a monthly basis.” Care Foundation, Pakistan’s largest educational charity. Aziz worries that attendance will drop even further as it is impossible to learn distance education outside the big cities due to lack of internet. “We tried to start learning online on smartphones in some of our schools, but many of our students at home do not have access to mobile signals or the Internet.”

Soomro says government tele-education projects have also declined. He believes that the solution is to change the mindset. He said there was no awareness campaign before that television would be used for education. These are agrarian communities, they don’t understand the idea of ​​sitting around the television most days, “she says.

“People don’t understand the importance of education,” he said, referring to the high school enrollment, but instead of exposing themselves to the lockdown. The connection with the wet world is over. Aliza Ahsan, a student from Misgar, a mountain village in Hunza, had to return home when hostels were closed near her college. She has to travel to relatives’ homes to access the internet and download assignments or attend classes. Left to restrain himself with a little passage given by the college, it has isolated his senses.

Anya Niaz, an education researcher, says there is little understanding of the diversity of educational experiences across Pakistan. He said, “In the provinces, digital penetration on urban-rural divisions and social classes as well as the impact of gender is very different, none of which can be taken into account in terms of blanket measures implemented at the national level Is.” Says.

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