Virtual science laboratory on cards to empower students

June 08, 2023

PESHAWAR: In yet another milestone achievement, the Elementary and Secondary Education Foundation Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is set to launch a unique and innovative virtual science laboratory - the first...

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PESHAWAR: In yet another milestone achievement, the Elementary and Secondary Education Foundation (ESEF) Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is set to launch a unique and innovative virtual science laboratory - the first in the entire country - to empower students of the secondary and higher secondary classes with immersive and interactive learning experience.The project would be formally launched in the graduation ceremony of the students of the community schools on June 10. The initiative would prove to be a game-changer for students pursuing their studies through Participatory Online and Home Learning Alternative (POHA) programme of the ESEF, Zariful Maani, managing director of ESEF, told The News.

The virtual science lab, also called e-lab, is a state-of-the-art software, which would provide students an all-in-one solution for making science experiments at their homes, he said. “The e-lab is easily accessible, easy to operate and the most effective in learning. It is a blessing for home learners, community schools, partner schools of the ESEF as well as the formal educational institutions, the ESEF head remarked.

It merits a mention here that only 2,700 among the 6,000 high and higher secondary government schools in the province are having science laboratories and most of them are non-functional for a host of reasons mainly non-availability of required equipment. Very few among the thousands of private schools are having proper science lab. Everyone knows how practical exams of the science students are conducted and how they get marks in it. In such a state of affairs, the e-lab facility would enable the students to make better understanding of their subjects.Zarif announced that the facility would be provided to the partner schools of ESEF free of cost, while the private schools would be charged nominally for it. The revenue coming out of it would be utilized on more innovative ideas in non-formal education, he said. The recently launched POHA programme of the foundation is also a unique initiative for home learners under which some 8,000 students have been registered so far in the 26 districts of the province excluding the newly merged districts.

For effective functioning of POHA and the e-lab, some 250 clusters of the schools have been made in the province. The head teachers of those clusters are being trained for the use of the e-lab in an effective manner. Training for the teachers in the winter zone has already been conducted, while those in the summer zone would be trained soon, said Habibur Rahman Orakzai, director programmes of ESEF. The teachers are provided the data of e-lab in USB, which they would use in the respective domains. Students from grade 9 to 12 would benefit from the e-lab. The Inter-Board Coordination Committee has already agreed to allow the private students of grade 9, 10, 11 and 12 to take exams in science subjects in private capacity provided that they have conducted their required experiments online in the e-labs, he informed.

Elaborating on the key features of the virtual lab, Zarif said that the students would be able to access a vast library of educational videos that cover a wide range of science topics, ensuring students to easily comprehend complex theories and concepts. Extensive theory notes would be available about each topic, allowing students to enhance their understanding and reinforce their knowledge, he added. The students would conduct experiments through interactive simulations to apply theoretical knowledge in a practical context, he further said. Sharing his views about the e-lab, deputy director ESEF, Prof Gulzar Hussain said that the virtual science lab would offer a range of practical experiments that students could conduct virtually to use their laboratory skills and reinforce their learning. He said that the lab was easy to access any time during 24 hours in line with their study schedule around other commitments.

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