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Sunday November 28, 2021

Public sector varsities’ readiness for online classes less than private varsities

June 25, 2020

LAHORE: At a time when university students in different parts of the country are opposing and rejecting the idea of online classes because of unavailability of internet, or poor internet connectivity, even some of the topnotch public universities are scoring less than private universities vis-à-vis readiness for online classes.

According to Higher Education Data Repository (HERD) of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) as of June 24, Government College University (GCU) Lahore’s online classes readiness is 74 percent, Punjab University 83 percent, Bahauddin Zakariya University (BZU) Multan 75 percent, University of Education 68 percent, University of Peshawar, Peshawar 69 percent and Fatima Jinnah Medical University (FJMU), Lahore 64 percent while many private universities have, so far, scored better than public higher education institutions (HEIs).

As per the dashboard the online readiness of a private university, University of Central Punjab (UCP), Lahore is almost 100 percent. Another private university Beaconhouse National University (BNU) Lahore has 97 percent score.

Seen in this context, readiness for online classes by public HEIs also seem justifying concerns of students especially those of public sector HEIs vis-à-vis online classes. However, an HEC official, seeking anonymity, said that this was an ongoing process and not all the universities were so far on the Higher Education Data Repository dashboard. He said the HEC had not ranked or positioned any university on the basis of this online classes’ readiness as universities were still sharing data with the Commission through the dashboard. He said the initiative was aimed to encourage universities to prepare themselves better for online classes. He said some universities had even issued press releases for scoring better in terms of online readiness. He reiterated that the HEC did not announce any ranking on this basis.

It is pertinent to mention here that because of the closure of education institutions after the Covid-19 outbreak, HEIs have been shifting towards online education but there have been strong concerns from the students who cite absence of internet facility or poor and expensive internet connectivity as the main hurdle in this regard. They have been demanding the authorities to either ensure uninterrupted and inexpensive internet connectivity or abandon the idea of online education.

As per reports over a dozen students were arrested in Quetta on Wednesday after they attempted reaching the Chief Minister’s residence, demanding access to the internet. These students had been protesting against the unavailability of internet for online classes.