ISLAMABAD: Minister for Federal Education Shafqat Mehmood on Wednesday directed the concerned authorities to complete consultations with the provinces and other stakeholders on online learning issues and their resolution.
At a meeting on the matter of online classes, Mr Mehmood told the authorities to prepare a report to be presented before the cabinet.
Educational institutions will stay closed until Sept 14, and students — particularly university students who live in remote parts of the country — have been facing unreliable internet connectivity.
Students have protested in various cities including in Islamabad against internet connectivity problems, and Mr Mehmood during a press conference admitted that students in some areas have been facing internet issues.
Meeting held on connectivity problems for university students in areas with limited, no internet access
Prime Minister Imran Khan also recently took notice of the matter.
According to a press release from the ministry, Mr Mehmood chaired a meeting on internet connectivity problems facing students on Mr Khan’s directives to improve the situation.
The meeting was attended by officials of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), Ministry of Information Technology, Higher Education Commission (HEC) and others.
The issue of students in Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Kashmir, Balochistan and federal areas with poor or no internet availability was discussed in detail.
During the meeting, Mr Mehmood said that the internet and education are interconnected, and the importance of the internet has become clearer because of the coronavirus. He said education is a priority of the government and no stone will be left unturned to promote education and online learning.
In response to student protests, the HEC had previously said that it has assured students it will resolve problems they are facing regarding internet connectivity, the quality of teaching in online classes and their subsequent examinations.
The HEC had said the purpose of starting online classes was to save students’ semesters, avoid disruptions to the academic calendar and let the learning process continue.
The HEC had said that efforts were ongoing to address connectivity issues in collaboration with the PTA and telecommunications companies.
The government has also allowed universities to accommodate students who are from remote areas and face limited or no internet access in their hostels with an occupancy rate not exceeding 30pc so they can continue studying online.
Published in Dawn, July 16th, 2020