Thursday March 30, 2023

WB, UN bodies helping Pakistan minimise educational disruption amid COVID-19 crisis

March 31, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic that resulted in the closure of most of the educational institutions across the globe has also affected the education of 46.8 million schoolchildren in Pakistan.

The data of the United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organisation (Unesco) shows that 8.6 million of them are enrolled at pre-primary learning centres, 22.9 million at primary schools, 13.36 million at secondary schools and 1.88 million at tertiary-level institutions.

Unesco states that 181 countries have closed their schools, affecting over 87.4 per cent of the learners’ population around the world. The organisation’s interactive map shows that many countries have partially closed their schools, while others are operating such institutions according to their respective situations in different areas.

Unesco says that the pandemic has badly disrupted education worldwide, predicting that considering the current circumstances, millions of learners will be affected by the situation in the near future.

Almost all the international bodies are closely working with member states to help them cope with the situation. They are updating their websites round the clock to provide the latest information and offer support to the member countries.

In this regard, the World Bank has taken some steps to minimise the educational disruption and facilitate the continuity of learning in Pakistan. On March 24, the financial institution had said in a statement that its local team was involved in the government’s coronavirus response since the previous week.

The key objectives to be undertaken include developing and implementing distance education delivery systems with existing curricula and content available in coordination with provinces and stakeholders, read the statement.

“Different mechanisms of delivery, including EdTech, are planned, with an eye to supporting all children, including those who were out of school before COVID-19 school closures.”

The WB will build system capacity to provide alternative modalities of learning, including developing missing curriculum content, with the help of online content developers and public sector personnel. The team will raise awareness about the academic content available online and hygiene behaviours to counteract the spread of the virus.

Some of the interventions will be supported under the recently negotiated Pandemic Response Effectiveness in Pakistan project. In addition, resources from existing projects will be reallocated to some of the similar interventions in the provinces focusing on awareness and alternate tools. “Additionally, several of the Education GP resources have been made available to the public.”

Similarly, Unesco under the theme of ‘COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response’ is not only compiling statistics about the closure of educational institutions being collected from across the globe but also providing solutions and support to its constituent countries to reduce educational disorder.

“Unesco is providing immediate support to countries as they work to minimise the educational disruption and facilitate the continuity of learning, especially for the most vulnerable,” reads the organisation’s statement.

Likewise, Unicef-Pakistan is also closely working on education in the country, particularly in the province of Balochistan. Since the emergence of COVID-19 in Pakistan, the organisation has been issuing guidelines and latest updates to keep children safe and guide more and more people.

After the closure of schools, the organisation’s website carries an updated list of websites providing free access to distance learning. There’s also a list of free educational applications, platforms and resources aimed at assisting educators, students and parents for the duration educational institutions remain closed.