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The future of education

Concerted efforts must be made to reshape the future of education in Pakistan

September 24, 2023


n today’s competitive landscape, digital learning environment in schools assumes a crucial role, intricately connected with cutting-edge technology. However, many schools in Sindh are in dire need of a more refined system, one that empowers students with a carefully curated set of strategies designed to enhance their learning experience.

The educational practices in these schools have grown obsolete, failing to keep up with the demands of modern-day competition. We need to approach and mitigate this challenge with a pragmatic mindset.

The deficiency in quality science and mathematics education remains a persistent issue, particularly in marginalised schools in Sindh and across Pakistan.

We need to incorporate valuable digital tools and resources into our educational system.

There has been a growing emphasis on digital practices in our neighbouring countries, particularly in fields like robotics and other practical digital technologies. Competitions like Robocon, Technoxian and IIT Techfest Robotronix provide platforms for students to design, build and programme robots, promoting innovation and practical skills. Some institutions and communities have established maker spaces and Fab Labs where individuals can access tools, equipment and resources for hands-on digital prototyping and fabrication.

According to an international organisation, Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, Pakistani science and mathematics education is below average.

Recognising the gravity of this gap, a youth from rural Sindh, Khet Kumar Suthar, has initiated a transformative mission, culminating in the establishment of advanced books, like Takhtee, a social enterprise in 2015. The venture aimed at bridging the educational divide and equip students with the tools they need to excel in a rapidly evolving world.

At Takhtee, the approach was simple – to make science and mathematics learning hands-on by applying the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) approach. Khet Kumar’s efforts have reached numerous schools across the Punjab and Sindh, igniting a passion for science and mathematics among students of primary and middle schools.

But they didn’t stop there. In parallel, he has co-founded another social enterprise, RedPi, dedicated to K-12 education, with a focus on integrating technology, robotics, AI, and STEM education.

Khet Kumar Suthar has become the pioneer of robotics education in K-12 schools across Pakistan. He has introduced robotics as a regular part of school curricula, a groundbreaking move that marked the beginning of STEM integration in education.

His journey has evolved, leading to a shift from STEM to STEAM, emphasising the inclusion of arts in education. STEAM, represents science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. Art in STEAM does not just represent fine arts, but the integration of physical, linguistic, social and performing arts, providing students with a trans-disciplinary education.

This shift has sparked a transformation in how students approached science and mathematics, enriching their learning experiences and enhancing educational outcomes. Their mission extends beyond just users of technology. “We aimed to create the next generation of technology creators.”

In pursuit of this vision and to reach the masses, Khet Kumar Suthar collaborated with Nidra S Butt to create the Digital Horizon book series. This series, comprising textbooks for primary to middle school levels (Digital Horizon 1 to 8), equips students with the latest trends in technology. Aligned with 21st Century learning standards, these textbooks empower young learners to embrace technology and innovation.

Suthar has authored eight books in the Digital Horizon series, from Grade 1 to Grade 8. The books were published earlier this year. The use of these materials in low-fee private and public schools and NGO-funded foundation schools has led to notable improvements in students’ learning outcomes.

Students who previously lacked exposure to such technology were effectively engaged through this interconnected learning approach. Additionally, adults achieved significant career milestones, including in areas like AI, website development, design, machine learning, website management and word processing, all by leveraging these technological resources through freelance opportunities and other means.

In today’s highly competitive digital world, the work ahead stands resolute and continues to catalyse a transformative wave throughout the Pakistani education system, developing the growth of critical thinkers, innovators and adept problem solvers. We must redouble our focus on these visionary initiatives to usher in a new era of educational excellence.

The Education Department should recognise and incorporate these forward-thinking practices. Our future hinges on decisive action, enabling the introduction of digital transformation that will ignite a paradigm shift.

By bridging the existing chasms within STEM education and embracing the interdisciplinary approach embodied by STEAM, we can revolutionise education across Pakistan, particularly in the underprivileged regions of Sindh. This transformation will empower students, equipping them to navigate a future characterised by boundless creativity, advanced technology and limitless possibilities.

The writer is based in Umerkot. He has more than 13 years of experience in the development sector. He can be reached at shewaramlive.com