GILGIT: (PR) As we come closer to recovering from the pandemic, it is time for educational institutions to reflect and consider ways for preparing education system to be more resilient to unprecedented disruptions, more responsive to the needs of students and conductive for lifelong learning experience in the coming future.
Integrating technology in education has been an effective solution across the world. To learn about the experiences of different schools in the remote regions of Pakistan and to discuss access to modern technological tool for teaching, learning and assessment, Aga Khan University Examination Board (AKU-EB) organized a series of roundtable discussions titled “EdTech – Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow – Experiences from the Mountains of Pakistan” held in Gilgit and Gahkuh from March 7-9, 2022. The roundtable discussion was chaired by Dr Naveed Yousuf, Associate Director, Assessment and Research, Aga Khan University Examination Board Mr. Imran Bashi, the CEO of the Jenabai Welfare Organization, Dr Shehzad Jeeva, Director AKU-EB, and Mr Hanif Shariff Associate Director also attended. Many leaders from different educational institutions, NGOs and other civil society personnel attended the event.
The AKU-EB recognizes that for the remote Gilgit Baltistan, an immediate integration of technology into online teaching, learning and assessment was challenge with lack of access to proper internet connectivity. To ensure the equitable learning opportunities and no student is left behind, the Aga Khan University Examination Board and its partnership with the Knowledge Platform ensured the installation and access to technological tools available for online teaching, learning and assessment.
Mr Shah Rahim, Principal of the DJ Model High School Singal Ghizer noted that “Despite many challenges related to accessibility, we continued teaching and learning in the schools using social media groups and platforms. Our teachers learnt how to use modern gadgets for recording lectures and disseminating those to students through smart technology”, said. The lectures broadcasted through local cables with the digital library provided by the AKU-EB playing a key role during the pandemic.
Ms Robeena, Principal, Elysian Higher Secondary School Gilgit shared teachers’ experience noting that they were able to cover up the deficiencies through the lectures and reading content in the digital forms. This was an opportunity not only for students but teachers to learn many ways of integrating technology into their teaching plans.
Mr Haider Yosaf, Principal, Leadership Academy Gahkcuh noted that GB has extreme limitation in terms of access to internet facility; therefore, it was not easy for schools to shift teaching and learning to the digital forms. Schools did their best to digitize education with limited resources. Social media platforms played a huge role as these platforms worked even during poor internet connectivity. Mr Yosaf further noted that up-gradation of internet facilities in the area will bring more opportunities and lead to a paradigm shift to a new era.
Many participants highlighted the shortage of electricity in winter and high cost of gadgets as major hurdles for using new technology in Gilgit-Baltistan.
“Transition from classroom to online learning has improved collaboration among the students as well as the teachers”, said Ms Nadia Feroz Ali, Principal, Aga Khan Higher Secondary School Gahkuch.
Dr Shehzad Jeeva, Director AKU-EB suggested schools to pool up their resources and use these as common assets for the benefit of students across schools in the region. He further pointed about the issue related to cybercrime and cyber-bullying in Pakistan and emphasized about children and parents’ awareness about the matter.
In conclusion, Mr Imran Bashi, expressed that the use of technology and learning 21st century skills are the way forward for the future. “We need to keep ourselves updated of emerging technologies to be ready for more challenges in the coming future.”